I’ve never been lucky in love. I don’t possess the skill set for the very important first steps of romantic social interaction; flirting and dating. Most people would look inward for why they seem unable to cultivate the simplest of skills most have developed by middle or high school. Being the baby of a the family, I refuse to admit that anything is ever my fault, my shortcomings are always the result of failings of the formative people in my life. There are two people who are quite clearly to blame for my failures in love: JC Chasez and Jane Austen.
Let me explain this properly: like most American children (especially children from Anaheim) I was completely obsessed with the Disney Channel. My favorite program: The New Mickey Mouse Club, or The MMC as the new cool kids called it. My favorite mouseketeer: JC Chasez. He had the best hair, the cutest face, the funniest skits, the coolest dance moves and the greatest voice. I would rush home from elementary school, fly into the house and turn on the TV just so I could get my daily dose of JC. These were the first signs of my impending psychosis that would follow me through my adult life.
As I grew up, my love for JC along with my reading collection would only grow as well. I first read Sense and Sensibility in elementary school. The language was a bit difficult to grasp but I understood quite clearly that JC was MY own personal Edward Ferrars. We came from different worlds but if only we could find each other, there would be some hilarious misunderstanding and then…BOOM, love. I’ve since read Sense and Sensibility too many times to count, as well as all of Jane Austen’s other books. In all of my reading of Jane Austen I came to one conclusion: there are perfect men in the world and the boys at my elementary, junior and high schools were not perfect. JC Chasez was perfect.
Another issue I often come up against is actual interaction with real life boys. In Jane Austen’s novels so much is left unsaid, there are lingering looks and casual asides that everyone else sees as benign but the two lovers know the exact meaning of. This doesn’t happen in the real world, I’d give my crush glances, lingering gazes, fleeting smiles laced with deeper meaning that I knew he understood. When there is no response, I took this to mean that logically, my crush understood my subtle flirtation and that my interest was not shared. Obviously, they just weren’t interested, otherwise I would be receiving long letters bursting with unsaid feelings and desires.
So I spent my formative years watching friends date, kiss and fall in love without ever participating in these rituals myself. I had great loves over the years, crushes that lasted through the whole of middle school, high school and even college but none of them acted upon, all unreciprocated. All of them silent and unspoken. When I did start to “date” it was always thrust upon me, a surprise situation that only started after ingesting copious amounts of liquid courage.
But inevitably all would be lost. The one or two guys that I would hold out a glimmer of hope for always failed to meet the towering expectations I had set up for them.
Even now, as I recognize my faults and work to correct them, guys don’t stand a chance. No one is passionate enough, nerdy enough, smart enough to love what I love and witty enough to make fun of the things I like but he doesn’t get. I mean where is the Marvel-loving, football-watching, Harry Potter/Jane Austen/Game of Thrones library geek of my dreams? The guy who is simultaneously sexy and confident while being vulnerable and intuitive. The guy who sees my shy glance as an invitation for more. The one who knows that when I insult him and make blanket judgements that I’m also obsessively checking my email inbox for his declaration of love?
Come on modern men, don’t you know that though he foolishly entered into an engagement, Edwards love for Elinor only grew when he realized that she respected his commitment and would not stand in the way. Why does no one understand true love except Jane Austen, myself and JC?
I’ve come to realize the major flaw (greatest advantage) in my perception of JC was that I did not know him. He was perfect because my mind had made him so. All of the things that bothered me about the boys I knew didn’t apply to him because I had smoothed away all of his perceived imperfections, he wasn’t real. True love comes from seeing the entirety of a person, recognizing a person’s faults and loving them anyway.
In Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Marianne Dashwood comes to understand and admire her older sister Elinor’s carries her emotions and feelings throughout the world. Unlike Marianne she does not allow her life to be held hostage to her feelings. Elinor is pragmatic and realizes the limitations and flaws of tying her happiness and contentment to a relationship that is not entirely under her control. So I can wait for the man of my dreams to knock on my door and I can grieve the loss of a love who never existed, or I can channel my inner Elinor and not be held hostage by Austen’s representations and expectations of love.
My perfect man may await me, I only hope that I have the clear vision to recognize him when he appears.