Would You Marry Mr. Collins?
First, before we discuss the happy prospect of matrimony with Mr. Collins—Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!
And second, it’s contemporary month, and I must confess upfront that I also have a contemporary Austen-related novel in the works. I’d almost forgotten about it since other projects got in the way over the past several very busy months, but I am so glad we’re doing this month, because now it gives me a chance to share with you a little bit about this very funny and yes, romantic book.
It is tentatively titled Armenian, Looking For Mr. Darcy, and is a cross between My Big Fat Greek Wedding (except substitute Armenian as the ethnicity), with echoes of the Jane Austen Book Club.
The premise: an Armenian-Russian single young woman working a drudge office job prank-calls people randomly out of the phone book… with the last name of Darcy.
How did this craziness start? And where does it take the heroine?
Here’s an excerpt from Armenian, Looking For Mr. Darcy:
I was at my desk, and my cubicle neighbor Rosalie was doing something noisy with breakfast tupperware—sometimes I swear Rosalie makes fajitas at her desk. She’s got a larder in one desk drawer and a pantry in the other, next to the stationery supplies. Anyway, Rosalie took an incoming personal call and I heard her start complaining about the pay and the economy, of all things. I felt like saying, “Shut up, already, before Angela our supervisor hears you.” Not that taking personal calls is a big deal in this office, but Rosalie has such a goddamn loud voice she could out-scream Celine Dion, and you really do not want to rag on your current job if you can help it, not when it can all go away at the drop of a hat—Obama, save us, and the Angel of Layoffs pass over this floor and take Accounting instead.
Well, to create a distraction—I could see Angela’s silhouette moving around like a shadow puppet through the translucent lowered blinds of her glass office—I decided to take a pretend customer call and make it loud.
I picked up the desk handset with the sleazy finesse of a long time support technician, and started talking into the dial tone.
“Yes, this is Armineh Nersessian. Yes, documentation. Aha. Okay, Aha. Yes, let me check that for you, okay? Just a moment please.”
Then I pretended I needed a fact check, and leaned over the cubicle divider and said loudly, “Rosalie? Sorry, can you check something for me, for a sec? I have a client needing urgent data check on the Whaley Horton book.”
Rosalie looked at me, and I began making urgent eye-roll and facial tick motions to indicate Angela’s office. She got it, and her voice went down at least twenty decibels and she whispered into the phone “Call you back later, okay…”
And then we continued enacting the drama, since Angela’s office door opened.
“Who is it?” said Rosalie, making her own version of facial ticks that involved crossing her eyes and jaw-popping weirdness around the mouth area.
“It’s a… uhm… a Mr. Darcy,” I said. The name just popped into my head.
Rosalie almost snarfed. At that point we heard Don three cubes over perk up and say, “Mr. Darcy? What? No way, a Mr. Darcy? As in, Jane Austen?” And his dark head popped up over the cubicle wall.
I tried to ignore Don, who is either metrosexual or gay but no one knows for sure, but this makes Don very conversant in pop culture topics and also very blabby in general. Give him any excuse to stop working and start talking and he eats it up.
“The client,” I continued, facing Rosalie, “wants to know if the production date is nineteen fifty or nineteen sixty three. Can you please look it up right now?”
“Ok, sure, give me a second.”
Angela was out of her office, sleek and catlike in dark senior editorial powersuit—no, kidding actually: she’s neurotic and slouchy, in a slightly ill-fitting-around-the-chest beige blouse and khaki casual pants—heels clicking on the floor, then going dull on the carpet portion of the cube farm. Oh sh*t. She is going to want to know who, what, etc.
And then it hit me. I grabbed the phonebook from the reference stack on the left of my desk shelves, and flipped directly to “D.”
Darby… Darchen… Darcy! Yes, about two pages of Darcys. I picked one at random, a Joseph W. Darcy, and quickly scrawled his phone number on my notepad to make it look real. Then I shut the phonebook and put it away.
Now, if only the Universe takes mercy on me and there’s voicemail. Please, God, voicemail, voicemail.
Curious what happens next? MUAHAHA! You’ll just have to read the novel. I hope to be done with it in a few months.
And now, to make a segue from Mr. Darcy, the most attractive mate possible, to Mr. Collins, his pretty much complete opposite, I want to ask everyone this very blunt series of questions:
1) If you were Elizabeth Bennett—knowing what you do only as far as that point in the book, and also being aware of the difficult social circumstances and your limited chances for future security and happiness—would you refuse Mr. Collins or accept his proposal?
2) If you were Charlotte Lucas, would you accept Mr. Collins’s proposal?
3) If you were yourself, and were bodily transported by magic into the book Pride and Prejudice, like the heroine of Lost in Austen, and were faced with nothing better than a marriage proposal from Mr. Collins, would you accept or refuse him?
As for me—I am not so sure I would refuse him, and very likely might accept his proposal! I suppose practicality and need for security would trump all concerns about the dork-awful personality and general yuckiness of this man. Seriously, he may be unattractive, but at least he is not a scoundrel like Mr. Wickham! So yeah, Charlotte and I could do worse!
Let’s hear your thoughts!