We’ve all had crushes on fictional characters. Back in 1978, I knew darn well that someday Han Solo would be my boyfriend. Other girls preferred the freshly blow-dried and needy Luke Skywalker, but not me. No, I wanted a guy with blaster pistols and an upgraded Corellian Engineering Corporation YT-1300 stock light freighter. Han Solo was a space pirate.
Later, I moved on from Han to various teen-movie crushes, although (again) not the ones my friends liked. While my girlfriends were dreamily tacking up posters of Tom Cruise’s Maverick from “Top Gun,” I had a magazine photo of Val Kilmer’s snarky and arrogant Iceman in my locker. Patrick Swayze’s slick moves in “Dirty Dancing” did nothing for me, but Judd Nelson with his combat boots and trench coat in “The Breakfast Club”? Yowza. He even had an earring, which back then meant you were either a rebel or European.
Clearly, I developed an early track record of liking men whose personality was, shall we say, leaning towards the abrasive. Men who didn’t care what anyone thought of them. Men who did what they liked because they wanted to, not because it was expected of them. Men who, if you dated them in real life, would probably say something to you cry on prom night, but you’d still love them anyway because they brought you a corsage without anyone reminding them.
And so, I met Fitzwilliam Darcy.
In a college English Lit class, I was assigned the reading of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” I had never read Austen before, and perhaps it was a good thing – I don’t think I was ready for Darcy until then.
Fitzwilliam Darcy meets Elizabeth Bennet near the opening chapters of P&P, and promptly acts like a total jerk. Lizzie, being too much of a lady to say, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that you, sir, are an ass,” laughs it off, allowing him to get a glimpse of her “fine eyes.” Then she ignores him, rebuffs him, recognizes him for the stubborn, proud man he is, and finally – despite her best judgment – falls in love with him. So do the rest of us, and many of us did so before we suspected Darcy might resemble Colin Firth or Matthew McFadyen. And how can we not love Darcy? He’s arrogant and proud and taciturn but he’s got a good heart. He will quietly do what needs to be done for the benefit of those he loves, and ask nothing in return. On the surface, he’s overly proud – and yet the fault is partly Lizzie’s, because she in turn is prejudiced against him for what she believes him to be. It is only when she learns his true nature that she realizes what we already know – that Darcy, for all his flaws, is a hell of a guy.
So I’ll continue to have crushes on the Darcys of the world. They’re flawed, they’re damaged, and sometimes they’re outright fools. Most likely, they’re nothing but trouble, and will probably make us say bad words and throw vases at their heads before we’re done with them.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t want them any other way.