January 2004

Confessions of a frivolous woman

By Suzanne Strazza

I live for movies where the not-quite-perfect gal gets the oh-so-perfect-guy who’s not so perfect to start with and who ultimately realizes that she is truly perfect in every way. I am a director’s dream; I laugh when I should, swoon when I’m supposed to, and sob right along with the heartbroken heroine, feeling better only when she does.

Given this character trait, the six-hour version of “Pride and Prejudice” is, in my opinion, the all-time greatest movie ever made and Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy) is the all-time greatest man to have ever walked the face of this earth. Simple as that.

Now, I need to let you in on a little secret; when, not if, Colin Firth and I finally do meet, he’s going to gaze longingly at me from that immense height of his, beg of me not to trifle with his feelings, assure me that he loves me just as I am and then propose to me in faltering Portuguese. This is a man who would never let minor details such as his real life or my lack of connections stand in the way of what his heart truly desires. Me, obviously.

Shallow. You think that I am shallow. Well, I am. I don’t deny it. I have a mad crush on a man whom I have never met and I know almost nothing about. I base these feelings entirely on his portrayal of Mr. Darcy. He has successfully won me over with his ability to stare arrogantly yet longingly across the room at a woman whom he loves; be it Elizabeth Bennet, Bridget Jones, or Me.

My husband doesn’t see the attraction. He thinks that Mr. Firth is just a “Pasty White Brit” and that sex with him would be like “sleeping with Prince Charles.” He would also like to believe that his own wife is slightly more mature than a 13-year-old. But I’m not. Fortunately, neither is my best friend (whose anonymity I will protect). We first bonded over our love for Jane Austen; then we watched “Bridget Jones’ Diary” together, again and again, sealing our friendship forever. We share a passion for romantic comedies, People Magazine and Colin Firth. What else are best friends for?

I feel that I understand this man. I have read at least two articles about him, have seen all of his movies and I listened to part of an interview he did with Terry Gross. What more do I need to know? Clearly he is the man that he portrays, condescending at first, yet deeply caring and easily hurt. And he’s quite funny when he wants to be.

I like to pretend that my obsession with the man is based on something deeper than just his astonishing good looks, but the reality is, as much as I love Jane Austen, if the man were less attractive, I probably would not have watched all six hours of “Pride and Prejudice” more than three or four times (as opposed to 15 or 16).

The sad thing is that I claim to be an intellectual — thoughtful and deep. I read all the right books: Toni Morrison, Wendel Berry, Alice Walker. I fight for the environment, am politically active and socially conscious. I rail against global injustice, I volunteer my time and I properly detest people that care more about their own money than health care for the poor. But it is all a farce. My holier-than-thou life is just a pretense. After writing my congressman about the protection of some parcel of wild land or another, I run to my room to read InTouch.

Actually, the truth is that life is intense and I feel the pain of our world and society very deeply. I could become crippled and incapacitated with the weight of it all, so I need an escape. I need to believe that there is a better place out there, where things conspire to ensure a happy ending. I need to lose myself in movies, magazines and fantasies of being swept off my feet by a tall, dark and handsome man, even if he is a Pasty White Brit. I have to think that there are heroes in this world, people who will do the right thing no matter what.

Okay, that’s a crock. I am absolutely smitten with the man and I am a disgrace.

Maybe, though, there is some truth to the hero thing for people these days. Perhaps, in a blind moment, that is why so many Californians voted for Arnold – they wanted the big, manly world-saver to come to their rescue.

Now, on this at least I am clear, I would not vote for Colin Firth if he ran for office. I’m not that blinded.

But if Viggo Mortenson were to run…

So now the truth is out. I am shallow, foolish and adolescent. I have crushes on movie stars and the occasional rock star. I am a journalist who loves fluff. I will no longer deny that this is who I am. Think less of me if you will, but at least I no longer pretend to be someone that I am not.

I must take my leave, there’s a tabloid to be read.

Suzanne Strazza, a happily married mother of two, writes from Mancos.