"This will be your Valentines gift," he said, as we wrapped up to stay warm in front of the big screen television. "Fine," I said, "this is just what I wanted—for you to watch the first two hour installment of Masterpiece Theater’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’—with me." I know this is hard to believe, but it is true. Even more unbelievable is that this is not the first Jane Austen adaptation Mike has seen. Last week he endured "Miss Austen Regrets" and the week before he watched "Mansfield Park." (After reading this to him Mike reminded me that he has sat through "many" big screen Jane Austen productions.) How did I get him there? I know you are wondering. I will get to that shortly.
So, how did Mike do watching Jane Austen? It was somewhat frustrating. British dialogue is not always easy to follow. Then, the Austen stories are often confusing if you haven’t read the book. Mansfield Park ended for him with many unanswered questions. Some of his frustrations with the story didn’t bother me. I can’t remember what they were but I did get on line to the PBS blog discussion looking for explanations to his dilemmas. There was a woman on line blogging about her husband watching with her. She said he was confused through the entire production. Mike was comforted to know that he wasn’t the only man in America watching and with questions.
The British dialect problem reminded me of the time Leif was in London for a few months. He got a job working for a travel agency answering the phone. I talked to him after 3 days on the job. He said, "Mom, I don’t think I am going to be able to keep this job. When people call I can’t understand what they are saying even though it is in English." He lasted about a week.
After we watched "Miss Austen Regrets" Mike was fuming about the fact that Jane’s niece married the widower with 6 kids at the end. "I can’t believe she did that." "Why, why, why?" he wanted to know. "I don’t know," I tried to answer him. "Maybe she was in love with him." I just accepted it. He didn’t.
OK, why did Mike take on Jane Austen? I think part of the reason was that I had seen the first two stories in the series on a small television. He agreed to tape the last three on his big TV with the DVR recording capability. I say, "his TV" because I rarely watch television. But the complete Jane Austen was definitely something I wanted to see. I think Mike was feeling bad that I didn’t get to have my turn in front of the new big screen. He was being generous and decided to spectate with me. He didn’t have to. He could have gone to one of the bedrooms and enjoyed the golf channel on a small television, but he did the loving thing and we watched it together.
The other reason—he likes movies. He likes women. He would rather talk with a group of women than men. I am not sure Jane Austen was very satisfying but he endured.
Last week, in the spirit of this event, I rented "Jane Austen’s Book Club." I saw it by myself on one of the little televisions. I am not saying I necessarily recommend it. It is about dysfunctional, immoral people but Jane Austen did get discussed some. I told Mike when we went to bed that he might have enjoyed it more than Masterpiece Theater since it was a bit of a modern day comedy and easier to follow. Well, the next night, before I returned the movie, he watched it by himself. I think he might be hooked on Jane Austen. I also know that he won’t miss the next two installments of "Pride and Prejudice" because he is hoping to figure it all out. I even think his British ear is improving since I didn’t hear "what did they say?" quite as often last night. He did say, "the stories are beginning to run together." I think Jane Austen is just what the male brain needs.
What more could a woman want for Valentines Day than to be curled up with the love of her life in front of a Jane Austen movie. Life is good