As many of you may know, I spent six years interviewing over five hundred men for an in depth look at what contemporary guys really think about women, dating, love, marriage and other relationship issues. During the exhausting interviewing process, I noticed an almost universal male trait —leg jiggling. It was so prevalent, occurring in approximately 90% of the men, that I came to christen it: The-Right-Leg-Rapid-Rhumba or RLRR.
Within minutes of being seated, the right leg of the man being interviewed would mysteriously take on a life of its own. His thigh would start bouncing, his foot tapping, and his entire limb would jiggle; but he remained totally unaware. No matter whether he was right or left handed, it was always the right leg that jiggled.
Once my investigation was over, I analyzed all the demographical data I had gathered including the leg-jiggling statistics (RLRR.) Was this affliction a sign of our stressful times or have men been jiggling since they first stepped from the caves? And have we ladies been too polite to call attention to it?
Now happily ensconced in writing Austen variations I could not help but wonder if Jane observed the phenomena in Regency gentlemen but chose not to expose this male affliction. If Mr. Darcy had been stricken with RLRR would readers still have found him the most desirable of men?
With that premise in mind let me present:
Mr. Darcy’s First Proposal ~ with RLRR
“Mr. Darcy to see Miss Elizabeth Bennet,” the maid said with a curtsy.
The cause of Elizabeth’s frustration stood in the doorway, his hat in his hand, looking bewildered as if he had been carried there by a gust of wind. She locked eyes with Fitzwilliam Darcy and struggled to hide her astonishment. Was there yet another pot of mischief he could stir?
“Good afternoon, Miss Bennet,” he faltered. “May I come in?”
Swallowing her anger, Elizabeth motioned Mr. Darcy into the parlor. She was again forced to acknowledge that were he not one of the wealthiest men in England, he was surely the most handsome. She thought it a pity that despite his physical and financial assets, Fitzwilliam Darcy suffered from two incurable diseases: severe pomposity and a jittery right leg.
Mr. Darcy had proven himself to be the troublemaker who had callously ruined Jane’s life and no doubt the life of his dear friend, Bingley. Elizabeth had only just begun to contain her anger of the morning when he foolishly presented himself at the parsonage.
He took the chair Elizabeth offered him and she sat at the writing desk. Mr. Darcy fidgeted for a few long moments, crossing his right leg over his left and letting the limb bounce rapidly so that it resembled the anxious hind leg of an unlucky rabbit.
Darcy’s striking presence filled the small parlor, and his words—although he thought them lofty—hung in the air like dust motes. “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” He uncrossed his muscular legs and stretched his thighs, tugging at the knees of his breeches in an effort to find comfort. His right leg took to jiggling as if he were churning butter with his foot.
Never had Elizabeth been so perplexed by the actions of a man for he seemed completely unaware of the dance in which his leg engaged.
She had not knowingly led Mr. Darcy to believe she held anything but mild irritation toward him. Was he being sarcastic, or was her sarcasm missing its target? And what was occurring with his right leg? For it now jiggled so that the very chair he sat upon vibrated on the floor.
Elizabeth’s resentment mounted as Darcy persisted in stating his case, oblivious to her eyeballs bouncing in concert with his right thigh.
“The relative situation of our families is such that any alliance between us must be regarded as a highly reprehensible connection,” he fumbled, studying her eyes for a reaction.
When she failed to respond, he did not waver in expressing his opinion with regards to the Bennet family and the obstacles they presented, but which he was willing to overlook.
Elizabeth was bemused as Darcy dug a deep verbal trench, and not in the direction he had intended for his right leg betrayed his anxiety. His words rushed forward in a torrent of ill-conceived insults in support of his offer, not fully what he intended, the thoughts lay just beneath the surface of his proposal and he foolishly could not contain them, no more than he could contain his bouncing limb.
“Indeed, as a rational man, I cannot make sense of my feelings. Almost from the first moments of our acquaintance, I have felt for you a fervent regard that, despite all my efforts, have been for naught. I beg you most passionately to relieve my suffering and become my wife.”
Elizabeth could not be insensible to his feelings despite her intense dislike for the man and his leg. Bewilderment fueled the resentment in her heart. She swallowed back a knot of anger.
His rich brown eyes were so deep that Elizabeth felt she might tumble into them—if she could only draw her focus from his rabbiting thigh. She did not wish to cause him pain by her response and yet a reply was required. The opportunity to let him know she had learned of his cruel and duplicitous character loosened her tongue.
Carefully choosing her words so that Darcy would have no doubt as to how his offer had been received, Elizabeth said, “I have never desired your good opinion and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly.” She moved her gaze back to his leg. It had paused to receive the news.
His countenance became such that she could not have envisioned even the pompous Mr. Darcy would assume. He immediately ceased to leg-jiggle as though she had struck him a blow across the face. He struggled for composure. “Can you tell me why you are refusing my offer, with so little endeavor at civility?” His leg grew deadly calm for it did not comprehend the insult.
Elizabeth pinned him with her eyes. “You have just told me that you liked me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character. Is that not uncivil?”
“And this is all the reply which I am to have the honor of expecting! I would like to request the courtesy of knowing why I am being rejected—because I am being rejected—is that not so?”
Pacing her words so that her delivery hit its mark, she replied, “As I said, with so evident a design to offend and insult me, you tell me that you like me against your will, against your reason, and even against your character. Did you sincerely believe I would accept the foot, I mean the hand, of a man who thinks me so far beneath him? I, sir, should be on a pedestal and not beneath your shaking boot!”
Further insight for those who are still with me on this:
Delving deeper into this very important issue, I discovered that our brains are cross-wired: The right half of our brain controls the left side of our body while the left side tells the right side what to do. The left side of our body conveys information to our more emotional right side. (If you have something loving to say… whisper it into a man’s left ear.) The effect is reversed in left-handed people. I think. Best to try both ears and see which works better.
Subjects in research studies who tapped their fingers on their right hands for one minute became less willing to engage in risky behavior like drinking, driving, or proposing marriage. Movement on the right side activates the risk-adverse left hemisphere. So… perhaps… men who are tapping and jiggling their right leg are subconsciously fighting off the urge to do something risky?
There is neat little tidbit to my study. See if it works in your situation. Humans have a “left-side cradling bias.” We hold infants so that their heads nestle in our left elbows. This allows our emotional right brain to respond to the babies’ facial expression, thus creating better communication and bonding. Now, transfer that scenario to the bedroom. Does your man prefer you on his left or right side? Is he bonding with you or hiding his jiggling right leg?
To celebrate the release of my second Regency tale and the sequel to the
Coming January 19, 2016
I will be giving away an ebook copy of both The Gallant Vicar and The Return of the Gallant Vicar to one winner. Open to US and International readers. Please post your comments here until Midnight on Friday January 15, 2016. Winner will be chosen and announced on Sunday, January 17, 2016.
Who knew he would return? I surely did not guess!
With love and laughter!