You’re just trying to escape from your yawning emotional hole into drunk
To roll belatedly with the theme of library confession, I recently ordered a selection of books that I wanted desperately but was too ashamed to openly buy in a store. One was about sex, one was by Douglas Adams, and one was Bridget Jones’s Diary, the book that infamously started the whole chick lit thing, which makes it shameful by association. Also I got the version with Renee Zellweger on the cover; I may have to white her out.
One of the things that endears Bridget to me is her flair for what are either Britishisms or else Helen Fielding’s own amazingly apt turns of phrase. For example, “complete panic stations,” which so accurately describes my reaction to any number of things. Not so much with “singleton,” “smug marrieds,” or “emotional fuckwittage,” but I’ve always wanted to whip out the versatile, “please shut up. I am very busy and important.”
And these phrases really stay with you. I haven’t read this book since the 90s, but the other day I woke up thinking, “I can’t get up yet, I feel like a frizzled lardon.” Once actually awake I googled this phrase to see what my brain was talking about, and realized it was a dish from one of Bridget’s ill-conceived dinner parties.
Then there are the parts, of course, that scared your faithful Librarian Barnabus senseless, so he tells me, back in the day. The parts where she obsesses over self-help books, about becoming an aloof, unavailable ice queen (which is the same as using The Rules, or understanding that He’s Just Not That Into You), and bemoaning an all-time high weight of 131 pounds (which does not even begin to make sense to me). Back when this book was hot potatoes and I was an infant, I was doing an internship and gushing about Bridget, and the bosslady, a grown-up, told me she found Bridget too harebrained.
I guess I can understand that you could look at this book and think “surely women aren’t really like this??” And then the market flooded with hundreds of books with pink covers and pictures of high heels and lipstick on them, or else stock photographs of whimsical girls in ball gowns hiding their faces behind cotton candy or some such, and it confused things even more. There’s any number of girl-with-bad-job-and-bad-boyfriend gets good job and good boyfriend novels out there, but I like to maintain that Bridget is different because it is funny, and honester.
It’s rare to find a book that deals in stereotypical girl-stuff, like drinking out with your friends, shopping when you feel depressed, and binge-eating cheese (maybe that last one is universal) that’s also funny. Bridget is funny because she tries to enact everything Cosmo tells you to do, and predictably, it’s silly and impossible. I’m a big fan of lady magazines that explain how to buy stuff to help you lady it up, but they’re all dead serious about the premise that buying that lady stuff will actually help. Because they can’t acknowledge the craziness of trying to follow 11 pieces of conflicting advice about your appearance, puns and penis-related bon mots are about the closest readers usually get to the funny.
Bridget is funny because it doesn’t hold back from telling the embarrassing truth, like the ways that life can be more difficult when you haven’t got another person to be on your team (which is never more obvious then when you’re making a recipe and realize you’ve forgotten a critical ingredient). Also honest about lust and mishaps, which go hand in hand. And dread of networking, that rings true. And hysterical procrastination. And hangovers.
It’s all slightly more complex than shoe-obsession. Unlike movie-Bridget, book-Bridget is not about clowning or pratfalls, but more about the drama in her own head. (Well, except for showing up in costume at a non-costume party, and mistaking post-modern art for a port-o-potty, etc, which maybe disproves my whole point, such as it is).
Torturing the whole thing into a Pride and Predjudice-esque plot is just icing on the cake for me, mostly for the discussion of Mark Darcy acting like Mr. Darcy as played by Colin Firth:
we had a long discussion about the comparative merits of Mr. Darcy and Mark Darcy, both agreeing that Mr. Darcy was more attractive because he was ruder but that being imaginary was a disadvantage that could not be overlooked.
Basically, you don’t need zombies to liven up the P and P plot, just handsome top human rights lawyers and thousands of alcohol units.