It's no secret or joke that the world has gone bonkers. I don't know whether it's the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the tilt of the earth or the general nuttiness of man, but here we are. If Seal and Heidi Klum can get divorced, then anything can happen. That's why underneath all the experts' half-baked theories for fixing things, we need a Jane Austen to lead and guide us and give us direction.
The idea took form after watching Disc Two of the adaptation of the late English writer's novel "Pride and Prejudice" starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. (Good choice, English producers.)
Disc One was missing from my borrowed set from the library, but I was able to piece the plot together after reading the book during a recent literary kick. (By the by, I'm going to report the absent disc to the librarians. Hopefully, they won't blame me because last week, I upheld my civic responsibilities by replacing a book after my dog chewed the cover, so I believe they now trust me. They'll probably sigh their tired librarians' sigh, stick a post it note on the cover and deposit in a bin.)
The novel, set in 19th Century England during a time when women wore bonnets and dresses with silk sashes, is about the five Bennett sisters, and the marriages of the three of them. But it wasn't all smooth riding because, let's face it, without conflict, there isn't no story and without no story, there is also no publisher or sales. In this one, the main heroine, Elizabeth Bennett, thinks that Mr. Wickham is grandl but that Mr. Darcy is spot on arrogant and conceited. But it turns out that still waters run deep and that the opposite is true. In the end, the youngest Bennett sister, the air-headed Lidia, marries the irresponsible Wickham, Elizabeth marries Darcy and her younger sister, Jane, marries his best friend, Mr. Bingley.
There was not one bedroom scene, one button a'flying or anyone shacking up after knowing each other for only a day. And everyone maintained their boundaries and wound up happy. That is Austen's formula and maybe a good formula for a happy life. Show some modesty and some respect and restraint. And I don't care how un-liberated it sounds, but the man should actively pursue a woman and not the other way around, and people should get to know each other first before they even hold hands or smooch. It helps lower the divorce rate and the occurrence of half-siblings with different baby daddies. And It would put the divorce courts on hiatus and send "Jerry Springer" to the bin.
While patronizing a Subway sandwich shop the other day, my sandwich reverie was interrupted by a grating voice at the counter.
"Give me jalapenos," said a woman who acted as if her sandwich was going to be nominated for the Nobel Prize for sandwiches, "and tomatoes and cilantro. I don't want that tomato slice, but that one. Give me peppers and plenty of olives, too. And pour plenty of dressing on it."
Elizabeth Barrett never would have behaved like that even in the confines of her own home. She would have been more quiet and subdued and added some please and thank yous to that unfortunate sandwich artist behind the counter.
In the end, Elizabeth got what she wanted, and probably what we all want. She got someone who loved and respected her, who accepted her on her own terms and who was willing to wait for her. And it doesn't get much better than that.