It seems beauty and poison often go hand in hand.
We’ve all met them. Those folk so physically attractive they almost look like a different species – complexions as flawless as a polished peach, hair so glossy it could have been French polished. Their teeth are white and even and they move with the kind of fluid grace you can only be born with, because it relies on your limbs being hung in precisely the right way and only nature or a very expensive plastic surgeon is capable of that.
But look closer.
Do they flick a glance at every plate glass window they sashay past? Cos apparently, when you’re that gorgeous, you have to make sure you stay gorgeous. And is that a crinkle of disdain disfiguring that perfect nose when they see someone or something less wonderful than they are? Are they, in short, just a little bit up themselves?
The most extreme example of a narcissistic personality, of course was today’s Wednesday Word Tangle word …
NARCISSUS, that most vain and unlovely of lovely Greek youths.
Having an utterly over-inflated idea of his own attractions, Narcissus didn’t think any of the wood and water nymphs who threw themselves at him were good enough.* And he treated the lovely Echo (she who had been cursed by Juno to be incapable of speech unless another spoke first) with such disdain, the humiliation drove her to hide in a cave where she gradually pined away until nothing remained but her
This being a Greek Myth, of course, things didn’t end well for Narcissus, as he caught sight of his reflection in a pond and stared at his own gorgeousness until he too pined away, leaving only a narcissus flower behind.
Now, the daffodil – the most common of the narcissus family – is beautiful in its simplicity, a welcome harbinger of Spring. It certainly cheered Wordsworth up when he was feeling blue. But it also has more in common with the callow Greek youth than merely the name.
Because for all its beauty, it’s highly toxic when eaten, causing vomitting, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, trembling and – in extreme cases – death.
And if it shares their water, it can poison other flowers, shortening their lives considerably (Sound familiar?)
So, what’s the moral of this tale?
Don’t fall in love with someone who’s more in love with themselves than they could ever be with you.
And don’t go gathering wild leeks in the early Spring – unless you’re fond of stomach pumps.
*To be fair, this story does portray nymphs as slightly on the needy side.
Thanks to dear Kat, the originator of W4W.