Monday, September 9, 2013

Mr. Darcy


{ Matthew Macfadyen, My favorite Mr. Darcy of all-time }

I had a completely different post planned for today. 
But then a man I met on a train pissed me off so I wrote this instead.

I love the train. It’s leisurely, somehow old-fashioned and slightly romantic. I take it any chance I get hoping one day to follow in the footsteps of Monsieur Poirot. If you don’t get that reference you probably won’t like the rest of this so you should stop reading now. Today I’m headed to Philly to speak at a conference for my day job. Admittedly not one of my favorite cities for many reasons, I try and take the train when I can instead of flying. My company tends to use US Airways and Philly + US Airways = prop planes. I hate prop planes. So…..for me it’s normally the train on this particular route.

And here I sit, minding my own business in the club car finalizing my presentation for tomorrow when an unassuming gentleman, who we’ll call Mr. Smith, asks if he can sit down across from me. Of course, I say. A slightly balding man in his (probably) late fifties, Mr. Smith strikes up a conversation and we chat arbitrarily about the weather, route and our business there. I notice his glance descends to my bare left hand and he smirks. Not married then, a beautiful woman like you? I’m 34 and used to this question. I smile politely and say nope, my rehearsed indifference proudly on display. Divorced? Again I smile and politely say nope. Really? Always laughing to myself when someone says this….would that be better? Oooohhhhh he says…..waiting for the perfect Mr. Darcy then?

Maybe I was tired, maybe I was done or maybe I was so sick of hearing this from people who hadn’t the faintest clue what they were talking about that something inside me snapped. I took a breath and said…it looks as though a seat has opened up behind you and I could really use some privacy while I finish my work. He looked at me with an embarrassed understanding, knowing he’d made a joke I didn’t appreciate, and rose making his farewells.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard something like this. Around the time I turned 30 I noticed people started making comments that basically alluded to the fact that if it hadn’t happened by now it probably wasn’t going to happen. Thanks guys!:) This actually surprised me. I thought we had come further, apparently not. The comment about Mr. Darcy is a pretty frequent add-on as well once people find out I’m an Austen fan or I tell them about my blog. It’s actually quite a common myth the populous has bought into; a woman who has never been married must have ridiculously high expectations of a perfect man who will ride in on a white horse, sweep her off her feet and carry her off into the sunset. That only happens in the fairytales a little girl reads and it certainly never happens in an Austen novel. What??? Did I just blow you’re mind? Here begins my offense and catalyst for my recompense.

First things first….Mr. Darcy is a jerk! Well….when we first meet him. Colin Firth (who is actually my least favorite Darcy) may emerge wet from a lake and Matthew Macfadyen (who is my favorite Darcy) may stride across the moors at dawn (movie references to help the non-readersJ), but these ridiculously sexy images can’t negate the fact that I, like Elizabeth, wouldn’t have gone out with him if you paid me. He’s rude, haughty, condescending and ungenerous. And these aren’t cute misunderstandings like in romantic comedies, this guy kind of sucks. He tells his best friend Bingley that Elizabeth isn’t pretty enough for him (which she overhears), thinks himself the better of everyone around him and even breaks up Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister because he’s decided all on his own that he can do better. The best part is when he proposes to Elizabeth and tells her he’s struggled because her and her family aren’t really good enough for him, but he loves her so much he’s willing to overlook it. Well shucks……sign me up!

Now there are reasons he is the way he is. First of all he’s a person and he’s not perfect. Second, he’s been brought up in a certain social sphere and his pride gets the better of him sometimes. In a very real way I also think he’s shy and has a hard time interacting with people he’s not very close with, something bravado and the creation of a persona often overcompensate for. The good news is that she tells him where to stick it and that he’s pretty much the last man in the world she would ever marry. That’s the wake up call he needs. If he can stop being afraid and let her see who he actually is, they might be able to save this amazing, intangible connection they have.

Where does this myth of perfection come from? This infallible Adonis referred to as Mr. Darcy that all women supposedly long for. I can only surmise it’s from the foreign formality of the time. Women wore gloves, men wore hats and you couldn’t even speak to someone until a third party properly introduced you. This mythical man is not real. And I don’t want to speak for all women, but personally I don’t want someone who’s perfect. I’d rather be miserable than bored. Oddly enough you can still be happy when you’re miserable. Boredom however breeds a loathsome unhappiness that is sad to witness.

What does any of this have to do with me, real life or why I’m mad on a train? Because! I, like Mr. Darcy, don’t appreciate being misunderstood and generalized. I’ve had chances along the way but either fate or my own intuition intervened. If I’d gotten married before now I would have either married the wrong person or screwed it up with the right one. In my twenties especially, I would have cared more about the wedding invitation, color scheme and if my dress was getting stained as I walked through the grass instead of the amazing person standing across from me. I wasn’t ready. I am now.

Back to Elizabeth and Darcy, who by the way do let go of their initial prejudice of one another, realize pride is just fear of rejection in disguise and grow to love each other very deeply. I think Pride and Prejudice is the story of two people who, through that love, grow and create something bigger and better than they ever could have on their own. They aren’t real but they do show us what the couples I admire in real life demonstrate, they’re a perfect team because they compliment each other. That sounds easy but it’s not. The couples I admire in my life are all different but they respect, support and admire one another. Through this they make each other better and act as a team. Don’t get me wrong…they fight, they disagree and they always have to work at it. But through it all they seem to be good at listening to each other. Having an amazing connection that makes them want to rip each other’s clothes off doesn’t seem to hurt eitherJ. That’s what I want. And if you’ve been lucky enough to feel this in real life you know it’s worth fighting for.

So Mr. Smith, will I settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy? That’s not a no, that’s a fuck no!

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