When you’re first trying to impress a lady, one of the most difficult things can be finding common ground for small talk. A reality TV pick-up artist can teach you how to get her attention, sure, but you’re an intelligent and thoughtful guy, right? And you want an intelligent and thoughtful girl you can really have a discussion with, right? How do you keep her attention after you’ve got it without dipping into the conversational minefield of politics? The answer is easy, my friends: classic British Romantic-era literature.
For centuries, women have feigned more knowledge than they actually possess of sports, action movies, and how to make fart noises in order to impress men. Naturally, we acquire a more thorough appreciation and understanding of these things as relationships progress.[ref]This was me three years ago: “San Francisco has a ball team?” This is me now: “Can’t wait for “’Pacific Rim.’”[/ref] Isn’t it only fair that men have a few kernels of British classics knowledge in stored away in their brainbox to woo a lady at a bar? Trust me, if we go this bonkers over a 14-foot statue of a wet Colin Firth,[ref]Keep reading.[/ref] think how many panties will drop if you, a living breathing male, talk about how many social conventions of the early nineteenth century were broken in the scene that statue depicts? Hubba hubba.
Look, I know you’re busy because it’s only 70-something days until football season starts and can’t possibly read a book/watch an eight-to-ten hour BBC miniseries. Luckily for you, I’ve got the Get-the-Girl Cliff Notes on classic British literature for you. Hold on to your britches, because after today, you’ll have a passable knowledge of:
“Pride and Prejudice”
By Jane Austen
Quick synopsis: Elizabeth Bennett is the second oldest of five daughters, and because of entails, (see: “Abbey, Downton” and the unfair–seriously, tell your target entails are unfair–allocation of inheritances to women) none of the children can inherit the floundering family estate, so the girls are pretty screwed unless they marry someone rich.
A guy named Bingley decides to rent the estate next door to them for the summer, which is cool for the girls because he’s rich, single, and ready to mingle. He brings his super rich friend Mr. Darcy with him. Mr. Darcy is very proud. Elizabeth doesn’t like him because he makes a comment about how she’s not that cute at a ball, and so she’s super prejudiced against him, like as in “Ugh, that guy is the biggest douche.”
The more Mr. Darcy sees Elizabeth around he’s all, “Maybe she’s not so bad” and he’s really impressed with how smart and funny she is. They keep running into each other all around England, and he finally proposes to her in this jacked up way that insults her family’s wealth and social decorum and she’s like, “No way, douche,” because she’s too proud after that comment and he’s prejudiced against her social standing.
But! Then her youngest sister elopes with a super-douche and Darcy fixes it and is totally cool. He keeps his distance and Elizabeth is finally like, “It’s not cool for a lady to talk about wanting anything, but if that proposal still stands, I’m down.” And he’s like, “Awesome.” And then they have a double wedding with Elizabeth’s oldest sister Jane and Bingley. Got it?
HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION:
Get a B+ on that term paper if you point out: Which one is really the proud one and which is really the prejudiced one? Or are they both guilty of both?
Lady boner points: If you point out that the novel is successful because both characters are truly dynamic, which is makes it considerably superior to “chick lit.”
Super bonus lady boner points: Let it drop that the novel was originally titled “First Impressions.”
Get an A on that term paper if you: Don’t mention the movie version.
Lady boner points: Mention the movie, but point out how superior the BBC miniseries is to the Keira Knightley version.
Super bonus lady boner points: Say something along the lines of, “While the Keira Knightley version was severely lacking in plot integrity, it did a nice job of humanizing the character of Mrs. Bennett, who is more or less a caricature. In the later film, however, we can see her as truly a victim of the limitations on women at the time.” But you know, bro it up.
Get an A+ on that term paper: Point out how Jane is the pretty sister, but Elizabeth’s wit and intelligence make her super hot.
Lady boner points: Say that the lady who played Jane in the BBC miniseries looks like the principal from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” but…
Super lady boner points: … State how that is indicative of the Regency standard of beauty. (Which is like “WHOA. Let’s get a cab IMMEDIATELY.”)
Close the deal with the 14-foot tall statue of Firth bonus:
- The scene it depicts is not in the book.
- After this infamous scene, Firth has been made to jump into ponds by several directors in other films. (“We have Colin Firth . . . how do we get him into a pond?”)
- Although it would be most inappropriate for a man to be seen in a public in such a state of undress, Mr. Darcy was at this point on his own property and surely thought nothing of taking a swim in his own pond to cool off, completely unsuspecting that the love of his life would soon encounter him most nekkid for the time period.
Gentlemen, you’re welcome. Go forth and impress.