Sunday, February 12, 2012

I love you, most ardently

Sometimes I think that if I ever tried to win over Mr. Darcy, he would probably go behind my back and say "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me."

Huge fan that I am of English literature, English history and English men (yes, I admit it), sometimes I wonder how well I'd actually fit into that world of Imperial Britain. That wonderful world of curtsies, coats with tails and long empire-waisted gowns.

Recently, while walking around in the evening with a friend, I started blabbering on about how much I love cravats. "I would only date a guy if he wore a cravat," I said. At that point I was of indeterminate sanity, because clearly the declaration that I would only date a guy who wears a cravat narrows me down to Regency Era aristocracy re-enactors (whom I'll admit I'm not opposed to pursuing) and perhaps Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers (who is already taken). Slim pickings.

Hanging out by the River Itchen, a path frequented by Keats.
I've always comforted myself in knowing that my figurative one true love will always be the 18th and 19th centuries. I fill my room with postcards featuring lines from John Keats' poetry, prints of paintings by Monet and the Pre-Raphaelites and other knick knacks that speak to a more sophisticated and genteel world.

The films I watch, the art I admire, the poetry I read and write all call upon an era when men were chivalrous and wrote verses for the women they loved. Women read letters from their admirers while sitting in a field of violets and daffodils, heads poised atop of bed of flowers with dresses flowing out at the waist along the dewy grass.

But where would I fit in?

I've never been one who is particularly adequate in the way of romance. I've seen friends and acquaintances go from relationship to relationship as I sit on the sidelines waiting for Prince Charming and being let down by the fewer and fewer options that come my way.

And hopeful as I am for the fantasy in my head to play out like a Jane Austen novel with me as the unassuming protagonist and the likes of Edward Ferrars or Edmund Bertram vying for my companionship, sometimes I think that even if I went back in time to live among these men I might still become a 60-year-old cat lady.

I attribute most of my shortcomings in the world of socializing to an inherent disinterest in the party lifestyle. I pride myself in being a loner, preferring to watch a movie on a Saturday night than go to a party even if "everyone" is going.

But would the Regency era - when country dances were the order of the day and the only way to interact with the opposite gender - be my downfall due to a lack of interest in being thrust into an awkward social situation? Would I be Mary Bennet and prefer to sit at the upright piano rather than learn my steps so I can impress men on the dance floor?

I honestly don't know.

I love more classic forms of dance. I've taken beginning courses in ballet and tap. I've even tried Latin dance (I was awful) and swing dance (slightly less awful). So even though my lightness of foot is in question, I don't doubt I would have been willing to learn how to participate in Regency era ball routines.

Feminism aside, I think living in the 1800's would have been a significantly better fit for me. Like in Lost in Austen, when Amanda Price gets thrown into the world of Pride & Prejudice via a mysterious door in her bathroom, once you get past the lack of adequate dental equipment and the faulty cell phone service, the peace and calm of pastoral life might not have been so terrible.

Perhaps it would have given me an increased opportunity to find hobbies outside of the world of mass media consumption. And maybe that would have led me to becoming an exquisite dancer rather than an avid spectator of film and stage.

So it's possible that Mr. Darcy would have found me only fairly tolerable, but alternatively I might have been in Elizabeth's situation later in the book as he professed "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

It's strange and mind-bending to think about life in an alternate reality. How not only surroundings could change, but you could change with them. But in this case, perhaps the curiosity of life is actually what I live now, and the concept of nostalgia is not incredibly far-fetched. If it gives me a chance to correspond with John Keats, I'll believe this any day.

No comments:

Post a Comment