When I’m bored, or lacking motivation for writing, I often look through TV tropes to inspire and entertain me. For those who don’t know what tropes are, they’re devices used on television and by writers as plot devices, some clever, some overused, and others are truly and utterly hilarious. Anyway, being an avid reader, I’ve always known many of these tropes, but have never even thought that someone else would have already put each one into words and compile them together onto a single website. Pure genius, I say – the first time I came across this website, I couldn’t tear my eyes away for at least 5 hours.
I was making chili con carne, and this particular trope came to mind, called “Cool and Unusual Punishment“. What this means that instead of punishing the hero with your typical torture equipment, like whipping him or breaking his fingers, you nix the violence, but the ‘punishment’ is so horrifying in the hero’s mind that it might be worse than physical abuse. Like tickle torture, or making him listen to a looped soundtrack of babies crying for hours on end.
So I was making chili, and thought of some forms of alternative punishment. Cutting raw onions was the first one I thought of, although it might not work on some people (my friend says her contacts prevent onions from having an affect on her). I’m pretty sensitive, and I hate the way onions make my eyes burn. The second one I thought of was rubbing jalapeño seeds all over the body. This could actually be a legit form of punishment – it makes the skin feel as if it’s burning slowly, like every nerve is on fire. For extra points, make the victim take a hot shower. It hurts, trust me. I made the mistake of not wearing gloves, and although I made sure not to touch any other part of my body after cutting up the jalapeños, it was still bad enough that my fingers had to suffer for 4 straight hours. And they still stung the next morning, when I put pressure on them. But again, I know some people aren’t affected. Perhaps I should start trying to build up an immunity?
Regardless, I’m still not completely sure whether I could ever call any type of punishment ‘cool’. Unusual, yes, but cool? Is it cool to suffer, no matter how bizarre the form of torture is? I’ll leave it up to you to decide. In the meantime, you can try thinking of your own ‘cool and unusual punishments’. Just don’t actually hurt anyone, because that makes the punishment not ‘unusual’ anymore. And the name for this kind of punishment is “Cruel and Typical Punishment”.