Literary crushes: Theodore ‘Laurie’ Laurence

An occasional series about falling in love with imaginary boys.

Tomorrow it will be December. For the last five years, I’ve worked in jobs that have meant I’ve had to start thinking about Christmas in July – so I’m quite looking forward to reclaiming the full 11 non-Christmas months of the year now that I’ve left the retail industry.

Christmas should only start in December. (Special dispensation for Copenhagen, where I will allow it to be a festive wonderland for as long as it chooses. ❤ you, Denmark). This is important for avoiding festive burnout, and for concentrating the jollity to maximise its impact.

But, that does mean that when December 1st comes around, you need to go HARD. Bake the pies! Play the tunes! Wear the sparkles! Deck the halls! And, most importantly of all, read The Christmas Books.

Christmas is a time for traditions. I want Quality Street (even though I prefer Roses), and vegetables to which I’m otherwise indifferent, and to watch Carols from Kings and The Snowman and The Queen. Traditions are comforting and familiar; they take you back to childhood. My Christmas Books – inevitably – do the same. 

I think all bookish people have Christmas Books, probably. Mine are The Dark Is Rising sequence, which are just so wonderful. If you have a 10 year old in your life who has not yet read them, I have just solved one of your Christmas shopping puzzles. You’re welcome. (If you have a 20 or 30 or 50 or 80 year old in your life who hasn’t read them, they’d work there, too. They’re really wonderful). 

I might come back to write about them more extensively, sometime (and Stephen Stanton is totally crushable, by the way), but they’re not the subject of today’s post. Today, we look to the Little Women.

Louisa May Alcott got inside my head when I was little, to the point that on Christmas morning I genuinely hoped to unwrap a Bible clad in soft leather (or, failing that, a pair of gloves to wear to one of the many formal parties I would be attending). So, it’s no surprise that as well as coveting the Marches’ Christmas gifts, I fell in love with their golden neighbour. Call him Theodore; call him Teddy; call him Laurie. Call him whatever you wish. He’s high on my crush list, nickname or no.

We’re in familiar territory with this one. Laurie’s an American proto-Dave The Laugh. He’s a terrible tease, who’ll push you to the limits of what you can stand. He’s used to the company of boys, and unable or unwilling to significantly modify his behaviour for his female playmates. That’s OK though, because our Jo is more than a match for him.

Can we pause here, for a second?

Imagine your brilliant, headstrong, bookish sister has spent her adolescence flirting – consciously or unconsciously – with the boy next door. Imagine they have been best friends, confidants, sparring partners for a decade. Imagine that he’s asked her to marry him, and then – maddeningly, bafflingly – she’s turned him down.

Imagine, though, that you can understand her unwillingness to give herself over to love. She’s grieving, of course, for her beloved Beth. 

You’re grieving too. 

Beth was the best of you.

Imagine you’re in Europe. Imagine you’ve tried to escape that little home, no longer comforting since your darling sister died. Imagine you’re just barely keeping it together. 

Why then, Amy, would you think it a good idea to marry Laurie? He loves Jo; he always has. You’re sparky and saucy and deserve to be so much more than the consolation March sister. 

I can never think it less than a travesty that Jo marries Bhaer and Laurie marries Amy. They have all got it quite, quite wrong.

For where Bhaer made Jo feel she was incapable of producing more than the pettiness juvenalia, Laurie would have given her space and time and as many felt writing caps as she needed. He believed in her. In what she was, and what she could be. He loved her so, so much, and I weep for him and for Jo and for Amy that it all went so very wrong.

May we all find a Laurie to love us though we’re spiky. May we all find a Laurie to support us in our plans. And when we find him, let us open our arms and welcome him in willingly. Let us follow our dream and our hearts. 

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