My first love had been dead for over 1,915 years by the time I met him.
I read I, Claudius by Robert Graves the summer I finished 8th grade. This reading coincided with the PBS series of the same name.Derek Jacobi starred as Claudius.
And I fell in love.
True, there were obstacles with being in love with Claudius(aside from the fact he was dead.) Claudius was overshadowed by his brilliant brother. He stammered. He twitched. He was mocked.
I would not have betrayed him like so many, even his wives.
I was true to Claudius/Derek.
And you may be thinking,"Why, Kristen, would you fall for an individual with so many challenges?"
And I say, "Because he was smart."
Jane Eyre was interesting because I have a thing for wind-whipped places. And fog. Mr. Rochester made my friends a-flutter, and he was compelling, but, let's face it, the man was a liar.
I do like the line, "Reader, I married him." Because it is declarative and she sounded strong. Better Mr Rochester than that tiresome cousin of hers. What a weenie.
And now we come to Mr. Darcy. In high school I was a big fan of Mr. Darcy. I was a bigger fan of Elizabeth, though. She was funny, and smart, and she was capable of reflection. She also didn't suffer fools gladly.
I admire that in a person.
But getting back to Mr. Darcy for a moment. Smart? Yes. A man of good countenance, parts, and character? By the end of the novel, it would seem so. Not a big score for humor, though.
As a teen, that was good enough for me.
In college I had a mad passion for Geoffrey Chaucer.Another non-fictional but dead guy. I even made up a song as I wrote a research paper on folklore motifs in the Canterbury Tales. I would croon, in my best Middle English, "Chaucer, if I were a folklore motif, would you use me well?" was one of the lines.
Chaucer was smart. And funny.
I could go on. Yes, okay, I admit that I nearly wept over Samuel Johnson, in spite of his scrofula(which is a little off-putting). I loved Jonathan Swift for his rage and his humor.
Yes. Dead and fictional. So many men. So little time.
And after many years of teaching English, I find my taste has evolved.
This man, this paragon, I'd known for years and overlooked. And then,one year, I realized, "I should have married Atticus Finch."
Think about it. Kind, devoted, smart, loyal, honorable. An excellent father and human being. And he does have a sense of humor. It's not like my man Geoffrey's, but it is grossly unfair to ask any human to have all virtues in equal measure.
So, yes, Dear Readers, tomorrow is Valentine's Day. The history of my heart is full of graveyards and people who never existed.
And I think I've had a great love life.
Such is the power of words and worlds and storytellers.