I know how it goes. When one asks a mighty barbarian warrior: “What is best in life?” The typical answer should be: “Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.” The first two are fine, but I must admit that the third one perturbs me. I mean, I don’t actually like hearing women cry. It makes me feel all sad, and I tear up easily, which isn’t good for troop morale. Once, I hiccupped a sob, tried to pretend it was a sneeze, and bit on my own recently sharpened sword to hide my grief. It looked pretty badass so the men were impressed and gave me wide berth, but still, I can only cut half of my face off so many times before I’m too mutilated to be understood. Plus, my tetanus shot is out of date and that’s bound to turn out badly. Please help me to enjoy the lamentations of women, as ever good conqueror should.
First off, you should never let your shots expire. You just never know what you’ll encounter on that battlefield. Some people’s arrows are filthy with cow dung, did you know that? You could get terribly ill that way, which would tear your attention away from conquering.
Now, for your main question: Dear man, you are in a difficult bind. And what are you to do? You shall hear women lament, of course, for that is what women do best. I myself have been known to enjoy a spot of lamenting with my tea. So, as we cannot stop the problem from occurring and as you obviously cannot easily retire (as retirement for conquerors generally occur post mortem), then we shall help to toughen you up, dear friend. Here are just a few tips to start you on the right path.
- Bathe in the Blood of Your Enemies: Now, I know this is old school, but you can’t argue with the classics. Don’t make it easy and get slaves to prepare your tripe-scented bath, either (and I do actually mean bathe, here. It’s something that conquerors should in fact consider taking up, but that’s a whole other post). Prepare the bath yourself – it’ll get you nice and pre-gory before being more gory. I supposed that’s actually post-pre-gore since the pre-gore would have been when you slay your enemy, and then gore when you prepare the bath, and then post-gore when you do .. wait, maybe that first step should be the pre-pre-gore then. Well, either way, do it. It’s great for building up a tolerance to all things, and it has the bonus of being quite lovely on the skin.
- Eat Unseasoned Horse Hooves: First cook them a bit in the fire, smoke flavor is fine. They won’t get very tender and you will lose teeth, but the resulting heartburn will leave you thinking only of your body’s laments, and having no care for anyone else’s.
- Visualize: According to modern theories on psychological distress (I read an article in last week’s Conquered Homes and Gardens), first you must relax your body, and then imagine your trigger. If you can teach your body to relax as you visualize this happenstance, you can therefore enter a field of lamenting women and it shall become your happy place. Or at least it won’t become your heart-wrenched place.
- Sit On Pins and Needles: This little trick is great while riding a horse. Pain will toughen anyone up!
- Pain Sticks: I don’t generally advocate mixing with science-fiction, especially of questionable science fact, but do get a Klingon guard to stab you with pain sticks. It really works wonders at toughening people up. It even prepares Klingon warriors for the great test of getting married.
- Wear Tight Boots: Now, see, every woman knows that an uncomfortable pair of darling looking shoes can be enough to ruin an evening of revelry and dance, though they continue to do so in the hopes of meeting their prince charming, even though when he shows up he takes off with your younger brother instead, but, wait, what was I saying? Oh yes. Wear tight boots. That will toughen you up.
- Over-Stimulation: This is a bit of a last resort plan as it requires some dedication and time. Find a quiet place, perhaps a meadow, or a courtyard, where you can have some alone time. Bring in a woman and her various different loved ones. Behead the loved ones. Listen to the laments. Rinse in blood. Repeat. You’ll be surprised how quickly the cries become tedious instead of touching.
Fret not, this won’t be that hard. Soon, you’ll enjoy the lamentations of women as much as your compatriots. Or, failing that, just bring a herd of angry bleating goats into all of your conquered lands, and they’ll effectively cover any sounds of lamentation, while giving you a strange but memorable conqueror signature.
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Marie Bilodeau is an award-winning author, a world traveling storyteller, a podcaster over at Planet X Podcast, a caffeine enthusiast AND… um, wait, no, that’s it. Find out more at www.mariebilodeau.com.