Dating the Women of Literature

Literary chauvinist Jeff Merrion gives dating advice on a few characters from classic American fiction.

While Kevin and Caitlin’s recent articles on the most desirable indie musicians were informative, they emphasized that a perfect mate is not to be found among rock musicians (unless, of course, Karen O decides to take me up on my personal ad: “120 lb. college student with pimped out 1997 Toyota Camry seeks Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs for one night stand and/or lifetime of unimaginable, metaphorical riches”).

But if love cannot be had with my favorite indie rock singers, where can I turn?

Why, the annals of literature, of course! I decided to examine (following Kevin’s example of debased misogyny) some of literature’s most notable women and examine the pros and cons of dating them.

Catherine Barkley

from A Farewell to Arms

From a purely chauvinistic standpoint, Hemingway created the ideal mate in Catherine Barkley. She actually states in the novel (no joke): “I’m having a child and that makes me contented not to do anything.”

• She would be a domestic goddess. No fewer than five times in the novel does she ask Henry if she is a good wife or if he still loves her. This lack of self-sufficiency is ideal for the man seeking a wife who will cater to his every whim.
• She is a nurse, so in addition to her womanly household duties of cleaning, sandwich making, and child rearing, she could take care of most non-emergency medical situations in the house. Health care costs would decrease significantly, allowing for more money to be spent on necessities such as Corona and Maxim magazine.

• The downside of her utter lack of self-worth is that she is über-clingy. God help you if you just want to sit down with the bros, have a few beers, watch American Gladiators, and give each other tippers.

Cathy Ames

from East of Eden

Cathy Ames is appealing because she is one of the most depraved, evil characters in all of literature. She appears beaten on a doorstep and marries one of the main characters, only to shoot him, leave him, and start a whorehouse.

• She is attractive in that, “Wow, you’re so evil,” kind of way. Each day with her would be an adventure, filled with such questions as, “Will she shoot me today, or not?”.
• As the Madame of a whorehouse, one has to assume that she is a demon in the sack. Any ill will incurred during the day could be defused in the bedroom, provided she doesn’t shoot you afterwards.

• See above; she is utterly heartless, and would likely crush anyone who came near her emotionally, and physically, with bullets and brutal swirlies.

Maria Singer

from Fight Club

Maria is the most likable and empathy-inducing character in Fight Club. She is a stabilizing force, drawing the narrator away from Project Mayhem, and sticking with him to the bitter end.

• She is long-suffering, and will patiently wait for any mental instability you have to pass.
Much like Cathy Ames, she’s a demon in the sack.
• She is possibly a nihilist, which means that any disagreements you have with her can be easily argued away.

• She has quite a bit of damage. The amount of time spent watching Dr. Phil might not be worth your trouble.

Having examined these three literary women solely in terms of their datability, I have to sadly admit that not even in the annals of literature can a good mate be found. But at least none of these characters are as insane as Conor Oberst.

While he excels in most other areas, Jeff Merrion’s spatial logic falls within the lower third percentile of United States citizens. He is a Religious Studies major and, as such, has a long life of administrative assistantship awaiting him. To potential employers: Jeff makes a mean cup of coffee.