The first time I fell in love, his name was Charles. He was older, tall and dark-haired, with a nice laugh and lot of patience. Charles was a gentleman. He even wore a uniform.
I showed my devotion to Charles by chasing him around my back yard every Tuesday afternoon, trying to get him to kiss me.
I should probably mention that I was five and Charles was nine, and he was in my back yard on Tuesday afternoons for Cub Scout meetings. (Hence the uniform). My older brother was also a Cub Scout, and my mother was the Den Mother.
I mention Charles' patience because while the other boys made bird houses out of Popsicle sticks or sanded their cars for the Pinewood Derby, poor Charles was trying to avoid getting bussed by his friend’s besotted little sister. He ran away but he was never mean. He never laughed at me.
My adoration for Charles reached its peak during the scout Pageant, which featured a play about western pioneers getting attacked by Indians. (Sorry, these were back in the politically incorrect days of yore.) I was cast as a pioneer girl. I wore a calico dress and a sunbonnet, and Charles gallantly pulled me around the junior high gym in a garden cart / covered wagon. When the Indians (sorry, again) attacked, the wagons formed a circle, and Charles got down on one knee and protected me by shooting away with a fake wooden rifle.
My youthful infatuation with Charles molded me. It’s tough to forget a brave young man who held back a bunch of marauders. Since the age of five, I’ve been a sucker for the good guys.
The other day, someone in my Facebook group brought up the topic of literary boyfriends. We talked about the fictional men who made our toes curl, and why, and what that said about us. I admitted that the first love of my literary life was Marius from Les Miserables. I swooned while he mooned over Cosette. I also fell hard for John Ridd of Lorna Doone, Captain Wentworth in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and OMG, Will Ladislaw of Middlemarch, I would still follow you anywhere.
All good guys. All versions of Charles.
Some of the responses in the group were interesting. I, personally, can't understand why anyone would be attracted to Heathcliff. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels, but Edward Rochester? Not telling her he was married? Letting her find out on her wedding day that the crazy lady in the attic was really his wife? Yeah. Like I’d be big enough to get past that in real life.
And yet, I had something of a sick crush on Silas Marner.
Which proves, the heart wants what the heart wants.
If you had to choose a fictional guy to pull your covered wagon, who would it be? Good guy? Bad boy? Brave war hero? Tortured sociopath? Miser?
What man from the land of books would you chase around the back yard?