Do you know any dragons?
You know the type: unpredictable. Fire-breathing. Always demanding delicious princesses and other feasts.
I have one in my family. Every so often I am called upon to deliver some kind of not-so-good news to the dragon, and it sucks. The week before last, I had to tell her that I wouldn’t be attending Thanksgiving, largely because I am not fond of voluntarily visiting dragon caves at the risk of being unexpectedly burnt to a crisp.
But man, did it ever suck. So I’ve been doing some thinking about what it’s like to talk to dragons, and how to possibly make it better.
Talk is for chumps!
Of course, why be the lowly messenger that has to visit the cave? That’s for suckers! It’s much, much easier to write to your dragon. From someplace far, far away.
So email your dragon! Then, toast with champagne! Fireball averted! Only read the dragon’s response when you are good and ready!
Email is awesome because dragons can still breathe fire through emails (how do they do that, I wonder) but you can dodge and ignore the fire much easier. Awesome.
*Urrrrrp! (Or: the cable guy tasted like chicken)
Oops, sorry, today email isn’t an option.
I don’t know why…perhaps your dragon ate the nice cable installer when they came to set up the DSL line. Or perhaps you don’t trust your dragon to understand email anymore. And you can’t send the queen to take care of it, because perhaps the queen isn’t feeling up to the task, and maybe the royal sky-writer is busy.
So it’s up to you, the messenger, to carry out this potentially fatal delivery. You have no other choice.
And it’s a really hard message. And it’s amidst various civil wars in the countryside that have been disrupting your dragon’s access to fine tasty food, making them far more likely to be disgruntled when they hear your particular message.
It sucks being a messenger, what can I say?
It’s hard not knowing how your message will be received. This is partly because you’re talking to a dragon — who knows what a dragon might do? Fireball, snort of burning steam, fly away and lash you with their tail? The options don’t look good.
So you remind yourself that you can’t control anyone’s reaction, dragons and humans alike, and you bring along your handy dragon translation dictionary…but sometimes they will breathe fire anyway.
In these situations, it’s helpful to tell your dragon when they are hurting you. YOU’RE BREATHING FIRE ON ME, DID YOU NOTICE is helpful because dragons do this all the time and can’t be bothered to notice, because they believe that’s one of their dragonly perks. I tell my dragon often and loudly YOU ARE HURTING ME and the message is just beginning to get through. I think we’re beginning to come to a mutual understanding about the benefits of a non-crispy me.
Sometimes the hardest part about bringing a message to your dragon is that deep in your royal-messenger soul you’ve gotten pretty resentful, over time. Why is it always your job to delivery these shitty royal decrees? Why can’t the dragon just simmer down for once? Before you know it, your message has gotten lost because all you want to do is remind the dragon about how they ate the last messenger, or how you still haven’t gotten the charcoal stains out of your best cape from last time.
It’s far better to save these kinds of complaints for your regular Dragon Messengers Anonymous meetings, because your fellow messengers will always understand. Messages to your dragon shouldn’t really be about getting satisfaction for past hurts. It’s a risk to you, plus dragons are notoriously stingy with their apologies. Dragons get testy when they are reminded about being naughty in the past, and it may just inspire them to further heights of meanness. So keep in mind that having a subtext or a secret grudge hidden in your message is not a good idea.
The other peril is that even if you’re the kind of messenger who habitually visits dragons, and you’ve dodged dozens of fireballs and gotten used to that sulfurous smell getting stuck in your socks, it doesn’t make you any less jumpy around dragons, or less likely to weep with exhaustion and relief on your way back home. This can make it rather hard to talk to any dragon without getting all PTSD about past dragon conversations.
When you come to an impasse
Sometimes your best techniques fail you. It’s okay to admit this. You’re not up for forsaking your kingdom’s dragon-relations programme altogether, but you also can’t continue taking messages to the dragon like this. You need to establish some ground rules. And maybe some better armor.
Step one: follow Havi’s advice about shoes. Because a dragon breathing fire at you is simply a really, really, really big shoe. A very personal shoe. A shoe that blew up so large that it caught fire in the atmosphere, maybe?
Step two: Remember that you are the queen and the messenger. Practice bringing your queenliness with you on those messenger quests to the dragon’s cave. Or just think about it, if that sounds too scary.
Step three: If all else fails, sometimes you have to take your dragon to
a therapist a mediator a professional dragon whisperer. This is what I’m about to do, this week. Because sometimes dragons need a professional intervention to realize that they are dragons.
I don’t know how or if things will change. All I know is that I’m at an impasse with this particular dragon. I do believe that dragons are capable of becoming allies and friends, royal assets in the kingdom. They make excellent babysitters (when tamed) and usually have the best holiday cookies. But none of that is possible in the middle of a veritable firestorm.
A lifetime of fireballs will not be undone in a day, but I’m hopeful.
I’m also in need of some fresh boots.