Posts Tagged ‘Pride and Prejudice’

I watched Bridget Jones’s Diary with friends this past weekend.  I love that movie.  It’s a wonderful story, wonderfully well told.  The “bad” guy is Hugh Grant – sigh – and the hero is the still more dreamy Colin Firth as my archetypally perfect Mr. Darcy.  The film is well done and, better still, based on the work of the sublime Jane Austen.

It was a grand evening, but it left me with a hyperawareness of just how profoundly single I am.   It’s fall, the weather is perfect, it all conspires to put me in mind of romance.

I would hardly put myself out there as an expert on the topic.  I’ve been single all my life, so far.  Still, as an interested third party, I think my lack of involvement makes me a more impartial observer in this area.  Miss Austen herself was a Miss till the end and her observations still hold us in thrall.  We tell and retell Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and endless permutations thereof.   We all have our own Darcy in mind.

It seems to me though that, owing to Jane’s influence and those who follow after, we have lost our way a bit.  In romance we are like those who ache for the perfect family Thanksgiving celebration only to find our loved ones the same tatty disappointments sharing the same sad turkey each year.  We have created a Technicolor, Cinemascopic version of romance.  This shared fantasy is, I think, the source of our troubled love lives rather than our romances or lack thereof.

I too am plagued by a number of these fantastic notions.

I long to believe in this imagined truth.  Still, on closer inspection, I can see how the movie model for relationship building, might have a few glitches.

In movie and TV romance, we are told that the way to attract the attention of our incredibly hot and for no apparent reason still available Darcy is to be a complete mess, insecure wretch or total bitch.  Our Darcy will either be instantly repelled and combative – always the first step to a healthy relationship – or touched by our pathetic incompetence, immaturity, bad hair, out of shape or flabby body or other obvious flaws.  What movie romance teaches us is that to attract romance the last thing you should be is available, competent or compatible.  There is often even an example of just such a person present in relationship to his or her Darcyness just to show us how bad a partner the good choice would be.

Okay, so now you’ve met.  Mr. or Miss Darcy feels sorry for or hates you.  Naturally, the romance is on and sexual tension begins at once.  Next, the universe throws you together in some way.  You needn’t bother to work at this, the universe will make it happen.  It is your job, once it does, to act like a complete lunatic.  You should make unreasonable demands, be blisteringly critical or such a shattering coward that the other person is compelled to get even, prove you wrong or fix you.

In short, it’s on.

Now that our movie romance is underway, we should do everything we can to discourage our Darcy who, for reasons defying all logic, is now totally unshakable in his or her determination to be with us.  The worse we behave, the more committed they will become.  This includes, but is not limited to, irrational fights about some imagined slight, class difference or unacceptable behavior, inexplicable insistence that this will never work, we need space or it’s going too fast or slow, or complete overreaction to the revelation of some past mistake or defect that has nothing to do with us.  By using this as a reason to make some ridiculous, self-important pronouncement or simply to go missing for weeks, months or even years at a time, our Darcy will be inexorably drawn to us.

The only possible and acceptable response is for Darcy to follow us to the airport, give up some amazing personal opportunity or make some other over the top gesture that proves that they really do love us and will sacrifice their every dream and joy to insure our happiness.  Then, in the grandest leap of all, we believe them.

And the divorce rate is surpassing 50% for those for whom everything, including the tax code has been crafted to support and encourage.  For those of us who are still regularly beaten for holding hands, it can be even more challenging.

To be fair though, how could we do better? We are bombarded by this scenario as the model for romance, over and over again in everything from cartoons to advertisements to grand opera.

Perhaps it would be helpful to note that there is a reason they call it romantic comedy.   These people are idiots.  The humor comes from their bad behavior, incompatibility and the absurdity that anyone could or would love them let alone that they’d love each other.  And honestly, dramatic or tragic love stories differ only in that they are told from the perspective of the pretty one and have a different soundtrack.

The Twilight girl and everyone Jennifer Anniston and Matthew McConauwho have ever played are an example of what NOT to do in romance unless you want other people to laugh at or weep for you.  Bad boys are just that – BAD.  Stay away from them unless you are a bad boy or girl, too.  A certain amount of yin and yang makes for good partnerships, one taking up where the other leaves off.  But opposites means, necessarily, those in opposition.  Your opposite is only a good choice if you’re looking for trouble.  Also, on a more practical note, your opposite isn’t probably going to be attracted to you in the first place – see also the meaning of opposite.  And, unless you’re trying to get them to leave you, do NOT talk to your boyfriend or wife or whatever the way anyone does on television including and especially on the reality shows.  Even the hosts.

Though a wonderful source of entertainment, movie romances should serve as an example of what not to do.  They should – Sigh — But they don’t.  Maybe the reason I like them so much is that they reaffirm my belief that it’s my special brand of crazy that will make my Darcy fall in love with me.

Damn you Jane Austen!

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