“If I’m wrong, please correct.”

July 11, 2011

Daria logo

"...you're standing on my neck."

As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been choking on this post for almost three weeks, and I’ve been sitting on the material for almost three months. It all started when I got a new job and on my third day attended a book reading by literary critic Bill Deresiewicz. I was thrilled to attend, as he’s an author that I’d praised in the past.

Deresiewicz has gone on record and in print stating that everything he needed to know about life, and especially friendship, he learned from Jane Austen. While attending a short lecture by Deresiewicz at Lewis and Clark College, it suddenly hit me that Bill D. and I shared a mutual experience. I too had come to several life revelations due to a re-discovery of the stories of a certain sharp tongued, precocious teen that I couldn’t seem to take seriously enough when I was a teen myself. Even though she lived in an era almost unrecognizable from mine, and her story still has significance today.

I’ve realized that everything I need to know about friendship (and Jane Austen), I learned from Daria.

Like a certain Lizzie Bennett, Daria Morgendorfer is a smart, snarky girl who rolls her eyes in the face of an utterly moronic society fueled by excess and superficiality. She knows who her friends are, and—unfortunately—who her family is as well. Also, in all her precociousness, Daria was still blindsided by her first love who crashed into her life like a modern-day Mr. Darcy. Daria and Lizzie are literary soulmates separated by a century, that still have plenty to teach to us 21st century folk…particularly when re-visited in your mid- to late-20s.

Daria helped shape what kind of girlfriend I wanted to have (I eventually married a Jane Lane), and what kinds of friendships I wanted to have: honest, unsentimental, and largely based on food and bribery. Daria taught me to accept that my family is crazy and I’m just as crazy, and that television serves us by convincing us that the rest of the world is crazier. I learned (in retrospect) that high school was far from the best years of my life, and that your first taste of wisdom comes when you accept that fact. More than anything, I learned that deciding against pursuing a career in music made me smart, but not cool.

“Daria, huh? Never heard of it.” Bill Dereczewicz said, the gleam in his eyes betraying his attempt to hide the synergy of the moment. I respect his desire to downplay the intellectual spawn that had been born between us, since it would only alienate the rest of those present.

Sorry people, we can’t all be visionaries.


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