Saturday, June 2, 2012

Blog: The Jane Austen Guide to Dating

This is one for the ladies! I wrote this some time ago while on a Pride and Prejudice kick and got to thinking how the various men in the book always seemed to pop up into my romantic life in some way. Of course with the exception of Mr. Darcy. Still waiting for him.  The style is a bit different, as I was going for a more modern, romantic comedy feel.  Hopefully the gentlemen reading this can also get something out of it. I guess the one thing I could tell you to take away from it is...don't be a Collins or a Wickham...

My mother calls my method of flirting the “Sheera” or “Xena” tactic. It refers to the bold, and in her eyes, aggressive manner that I talk to men. She suggests that I use the “Toffee” method, referring to the ingenue role I had in my high school's musical production of “Zombie Prom”. All cuteness, smiles, and tee hee hees. I prefer to call my flirting style the “Elizabeth Bennett”. A coy mix of wit, banter, and clever remarks.

To continue with the Pride and Prejudice theme, I suppose my mother would prefer me to be more like Elizabeth's sister Jane, who is all beauty and sweetness, arguing that I end up attracting rather unpleasant men with my tactic of choice. And it is true that Elizabeth finds herself in the company of some pretty awful characters before she and Mr. Darcy ultimately find their way. In fact, the majority of men I seem to get are either heartbreaking, snake in the grass charmers like Wickham or utter nincompoops like Mr. Collins.

You see quite a lot of Mr. Collins' in life actually. He's that creepy guy leering at you on the subway. Or that slimy dude at the club who just won't leave you alone. As in Pride and Prejudice, the Mr. Collins isn't too picky about which girl he gets, but he tends to set his sights first on the one he deems “the best” by his shallow, pitiful standards...which basically means the one who stands out the most. Be she pretty like Jane or outgoing like Elizabeth. He is a social climber without common sense. Boasting about his achievements, regardless of their size, and inflating them when they seem too small for the situation. No social graces and a knack for saying the absolutely wrong thing at the wrong time. He is also the one to call you a bitch when you reject his feeble attempt at a pick up line.

The Wickham type, while more tolerable than the Collins, is by far more dangerous. He is drawn into the excitement of the banter. It's interesting for him. And the coy wit makes it a challenge for him, which he craves. It's all about the chase. Of course we know these types. They're the ones who never called or the ones who stood us up. The ones we found fascinating, fun, and exciting. But in the end, he's just that asshole you want wiped off the face of the earth. The one whose pictures you burn and make voodoo dolls of with your friends. He does have attractive qualities, be they good looks or a devlish charm, and he knows it. This is the infamous “bad boy” that we have all fallen for at one time or another, and who has then broken our hearts.

I'll get to Mr. Darcy in a moment, but I want to address the Bingley type, especially as he relates to the Jane style of flirting. The Bingley type is sweet and kind. Loving and very attentive. He'll always remember your anniversary and bring you flowers “just because”. This is the type of guy you're supposed to want. I know it's the guy my mother wants me to be with. And to attract this guy, being sweet and lovely is the way to go. Some can simply rely on looks alone. But then you ask yourself: Is that what I really want? Somehow it isn't enough. Afterall, there's a reason Mr. Bingley isn't the main subject of readers' affections when it comes to Pride and Prejudice. Sure, I could swallow my retorts, put on my most shy and modest smile, and attract myself a Mr. Bingley, but then what? Such simplicity and loveliness would become tedious after awhile. We are always told to be ourselves. Relax. Don't put on fronts. While I can be sweet when I want to be, I'm no Jane Bennett and therefore am not really suited for a Mr. Bingley.

Sorry Mom.

So now we come to the ever elusive Mr. Darcy. At first perceived as arrogant and unpleasant, later revealed to be the very best of men, playing knight in shining armor, family man, and beloved by all who truly know him. Oh yeah, and he's hot and kind of loaded too. It's the challenge of a Wickham with something genuine in the middle rather than something rotten. Elizabeth's wit at first repels him, but makes her unforgettable, ingraining her in his mind. The two are perfectly suited for each other, social class aside, and throughout, both learn and become better people from one another.

This is the holy grail of relationships. It's the one we all long least we Elizabeth types. And this is what I, among countless other women in this world, am searching for. That Mr. Darcy.

The trouble is, with all those Collins' and Wickhams out there, how do we find him? If we have one pegged for a Wickham, could he not after getting over our own pride and prejudices become a Darcy? These days, we have to guard our hearts so well. Is there even a chance to open ourselves up to a Darcy, when more often than not, he will end up a Collins or a Wickham? And if he's a Bingley, should we just thank the stars he's not one of the former and settle with that? Or do we hold out, hope against all hope that if we stay steadfastly true to ourselves as the Elizabeth type, one day he'll find us, be charmed by our sharp and clever wit, respect us for it, and in the process find ourselves falling uncontrollably in love with one another?

...When you put it down on does rather sound like something out of a story book doesn't it...?

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully written. Never give up the hope of finding "the one." The hope, the anticipation, the "what if?" is part of the rush and the journey.

    You don't have to change who you are; you just have to be who you are!

    (Sorry, Sarah's mom.)