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"The Dating Game" for Three Fictional Heroes
by Susan Joy Clark

Like a lot of other women who read, I am a fan of Jane Austen's 1813 Pride and Prejudice. I have learned that not all fans of the book are just like me. I see the romantic lead, Mr. Darcy, as the ideal man for Elizabeth Bennett, not as the ideal man for myself, but to some fans, Mr. Darcy is their imaginary boyfriend. They wear pins that declare their affection, “I love Mr. Darcy” and drink Earl Grey tea out of their “Mrs. Darcy” mugs.

But if some Austen fans have lost touch with reality, what about the millions of female readers who are infatuated with a handsome vampire or a roguish slave master? Due to the popularity of two current book series on "The New York Times" Bestseller List, Mr. Darcy has some competition from gentlemen who couldn't be more unlike him, Edward Cullen of the Twilight series and Christian Grey of Fifty Shades of Grey.

What if these three disparate gentlemen were all anonymous contestants on the now defunct TV show, The Dating Game? Let’s examine the competition, shall we? Contestant #1 – Fitzwilliam Darcy, a man who, at first, appears to be aloof and arrogant but turns out to be caring, upright and decent. Contestant #2 – Edward Cullen, a vampire. Contestant #3 – Christian Grey, a man with a twisted idea of sexuality and women.

Jane (our unsuspecting female interviewer) must choose a lucky winner based on one question each.

Jane: Contestant # 1 -- What are you looking for in a woman?

Mr. Darcy: A woman who is truly accomplished must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing and all the modern languages to start. She must have a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions. Furthermore, she must improve her mind through extensive reading.

Jane: Wow! You don’t have high standards at all. Contestant #2 – If we went on a date, how would you show that you care for me?

Edward Cullen: I think you’re very beautiful.

Jane: Why, thank you! How sweet.

Edward Cullen: And if you and I went on a date, I would try very hard not to bite your neck, because I like you that much.

Jane: Um…thank you? Contestant #3 – What is your idea of the ideal date?

Christian Grey: Well, you and I can have a lot of fun with my tie.

Jane: Your tie… Your tie, really? You mean you like fashion…and, and shopping? I have just the thing! First, we will go to the men’s department in Macy’s, and I’ll help you pick out your entire outfit. Then, we’ll head to the women’s department, and you can sit and watch while I try on 27 dresses….

Christian Grey: (under his breath) Errgg. #$%@ (to be heard) That is not exactly what I meant.

Jane: Um…okay. Let’s see. Contestant #2 seems gentlemanly in a sense and yet… dangerous. Contestant #3 seems mysterious and… questionable. Contestant #1 seems tasteful and yet completely unattainable. But, I’ll take him! Contestant #1!