I am Mr. Darcy

I mean, not really–except, kind of.

I’m currently in the middle of teaching Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to my AP Literature students, and one of the things I’m realizing on this–counts on fingers–17th time reading this is how close to Mr. Darcy I really am in temperament.

I mean, of course I’m not really like him. I’m not rich, I’m nowhere near as good-looking as he’s supposed to be, and I’m not a good dancer. But I’m a stick-in-the-mud sometimes, I’d much rather be reading a book than talking to people most of the time, and once my good opinion is lost, it’s very hard to get it back.

I’m also quite standoffish, even with people I like, which means that more than once I’ve had people tell me they were surprised when they realized I liked them, because they genuinely thought I was just tolerating their presence in my life.

I’ve gotten better about this over the years, partly due to the influence of my wife, whose independence and self-image are very reminiscent of Elizabeth Bennett. We recently rewatched the 1995 BBC adaptation with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and it struck me that when I first met my wife, I didn’t like her, and she didn’t like me. Hello, weird coincidence! Of course, Elli and I came around on each other very quickly, and became the best of friends, and then over the course of a couple of years, more. But that first meeting didn’t go well at all.

I’m also, unlike Mr. Darcy, very bad at keeping in communication with people. I last talked to my brother in Las Vegas months ago. Same with my sister in Milwaukee. And one of my best friends and I, who live only 30 minutes’ drive away from each other, will often go months without talking, and then connect and infodump at each other everything that’s happened since we last got together.

The Pandemic isn’t helping anything. I am not comfortable on Zoom despite spending most of my days on it. So I haven’t even made much effort to see my best friends, whom I spent time with more regularly pre-Pandemic, in an online context. A couple of times, I went to a friend’s place and sat outside, yards apart, and had a beer while talking. But now that the weather is cooling, I find myself hoping a viable vaccine is found relatively soon so I can have my life back.

Anyway, Mr. Darcy has a special place in my heart, because he is me, and I am him, and here we are.

Published by Michael R. Johnston

Father of an eighth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Fifty years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA

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