Fictional Dating: A User’s Guide (published 10/16/12)
So you’ve decided to date a fictional character. Congratulations! The benefits of fictional dating are myriad: less expense, no messy break-ups (simply close the book), and the whole literary canon full of available women. Use this advice as a character-by-character guide, or, simply refer to these literary archetypes when making your own fictional choices.
We’ll begin with a classic type: your Catherine Ernshaws of Wuthering Heights fame. Is she difficult? Yes. Unpredictable? Sure. Will she try to murder you in your sleep? . . . maybe. But she’s real, man. Passionate. Feral. If you don’t want that, you might not be ready for fictional women.
Heller never got around to naming Nately’s whore in Catch 22, but that shouldn’t matter with a spit-fire like her. Like Catherine, she might try to kill you, but it’s likely to be highly comical in an absurdist, nihilistic way, so, just go with it. You should be fine.
I, personally, like the Scarlet Letter’s Hester Prynne. I like a woman who keeps her own council. You may, however, be put off by the feeling that she’s silently judging you. And, yeah, she’s going to be silently judging you.
What’s that? Don’t like real women who can’t decide where to have dinner? Then you might steer clear of House of Mirth’s Lily Barth and the rest of her ilk, women who couldn’t make a firm decision of their lives depended on it (spoiler alert).
Nancy Drew is to be avoided at all costs. Yes, she’s pretty and blonde and drives a cute little convertible and her father is Carson Drew, the eminent lawyer from River Heights, but, dude, that girl is cold. I read once where her father, Carson Drew, the eminent lawyer, was kidnapped, KIDNAPPED, and she did the luncheon dishes (her words) before she started looked for clues that would help find him. What if you get kidnapped? Ask yourself if you can wait until after afternoon tea to be rescued. Ask yourself that.
Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan (nee Fay). Work, man. Too. Much. Work.
You’ll be safe with your spunky gals, your Katniss Everdeens, your Scout Finch-types (though actual Scout is only eight), your Thursday Nexts.
Depending on your tastes, you might want to sidestep your Bella Swans. Yes, she’s moody, but unlike Catherine Ernshaw’s mercurial moodiness, I don’t see life with Bella culminating into a lot of passionate-yelling-that-turns-into-rolling-around-making-out. More like heavy-silence-while-listening-to-Iron-and-Wine-and-staring-morosely-out-at-the-rain.
Stay away from women in poems, who tend to be quiet and inscrutable. Ladies from Romance novels seems like an obvious choice, but one false move and they get vindictive. Fast. Like, made-for-tv-movie vindictive.
And, I can’t stress this enough, never, ever, ever begin a relationship with anyone self-published. Ever.
But, overall, just enjoy the experience. Experiment! Meet some of Hemingway’s ladies. Or Falkner’s, if you’re feeling especially complex. Shakespeare’s women prefer at least a Master’s in English Lit, but Ben Johnson’s are less fussy.
This is your fictional time, man. Enjoy it.
*photos via here