I had the strangest crushes when I was younger. Unlike most girls who fell for members of N*Sync, or early ’90s filmstars, I had crushes on historical figures and literary characters.
I make no defense for this — I think it said a lot more about my groundings in reality than I would like to have realized. But there it was, and it started very early. My mother told me that after studying the Civil War some in kindergarten, I came into the kitchen and announced that if I could have married anyone, it would have been Abraham Lincoln. Men of stalwart virtue, with a classical/old world air caught my attention more than any other sorts — and also made my selection sparse, even nonexistent.
So, entering middle school and high school, with dreams of finding some William Wallace or Martin Luther of course left me entirely disillusioned. I could never be very satisfied with the average school-aged guy — I thought they were short-sighted, immature, and unpleasant. That’s not to say that I didn’t have male friends whom I liked a lot — it was just I couldn’t ever see them as potential romantic interests. Reading only made it worse — I fell in love with Professor Bhaer of Little Women, and likewise with Mr. Darcy. They were upstanding, proper, restrained yet passionate, chivalrous, honest, virtuous, purposeful, serious when it called for it, selfless, intelligent, cultured — refreshingly masculine. I wondered if I could ever find some sort of realistic equivalent nowadays — I was hopeful for a few years, and repeatedly disappointed. I became more and more convinced that I was destined to be a spinster. I had missed the boat — I was born a few centuries too late for my tastes. And I became very resigned to my fate.
Then, came college — and with it, a whole new circle of friends. Here, I met people who were very much like myself — people who loved philosophy, literature, history and art, and who loved to discuss it in a fruitful way. We met together often to discuss our own writing and to give/take advice. I met my very best female friend there — she is old-fashioned, yet fun-loving, intelligent, and she can hold her own in any discussion or debate. We are best friends to this day.
I also met a young man who I thought hated me, for some reason. His name was James.
He had been the one to start or amateur Literary Society, and displayed a fervent love for good literature, poetry and old philosophy. He was extremely quiet, and extremely serious, and would barely ever talk to me or even look at me. Rather than putting me off, this made me curious. He was so — untouchable. He was tall, with large blue eyes and dark hair, a handsome/Grecian face, and a cold-set mouth. He only ever talked to say something brilliant, but subdued — an observation about a text, or a breathless appreciation for the beauty of a certain line in poetry. Other than the warmth he had for beauty in art discussed, he never showed strong emotion, other than a seeming annoyance at anything else. He had grown up in the countryside, homeschooled. He liked classical music. He was an excellent student, with professors falling over themselves to have him as an aid, though he was just a freshman. He was brilliant.
People often asked him if he was from Europe, but he wasn’t — he just had a strangely proper way of talking. He wore 1940s era clothing and coats — genuinely old, not the hipster kind.
And of course, I wanted to tease him — I said he was an old man, and would tease him for being serious. Occasionally, he would indulge me and banter a bit, but only a bit, and would never break his serious visage.
And I thought he hated me.
I could tell you our love story. It would take a long time. But let’s say — after many months, I came to discover that far from hating me, he had been observing me from afar all that time. He thought I was beautiful. We spent some time amongst friends, talking here and there, but he still seemed so shy. I came to find out one night — he had finally asked my dad if he could court me. My happiness couldn’t have been greater when my dad said yes, he could –
And let me say, that Mr. Darcy vibe never went away, but only enriched. I love this man, and he is the ultimate gentleman — he always holds doors, always is gentle with me, always considerate, though he is commanding if need be, but never unfairly or cruelly — more to snap me back to reality. He is strong, but so incredibly loving. He is passionate for bigger things — he wants to start a classical-education focused school, where children can come and learn the old philosophers, Latin, Greek, history, math, science. He wants to take courses in Europe. He wants to write a well-done novel, in the old-literature style — and let me tell you, he is actually a wonderful writer, and I am not the only one who says so.
In more ways than one — he is a treasure. He is the Mr. Darcy I never thought I would have ever found. He is everything I could ever have dreamed of. For all his seriousness and old-manness, he has the heart of a warrior for things that matter.
What about you? Do you have a “dream man”? And if so, have you found him?