So, I do articles for a little magazine put together by students of English at my university. Because I’m a lit geek, I get to do the Bookshelf feature. Basically, we interview the faculty staff about their reading habits.
One of the questions basically comes down to this: which literary character do you most identify with?
That’s quite a hard question to answer. Not only are there so many characters to choose from if you’re well-read, but your answer can give much more away about your personality than you’d really want.
Nevertheless, I really wanted to be able to identify with a character, even if it’s just for affirmation–no, Leah, you’re not so boring that someone like you has never been included in a book.
Well, I struggled. Eventually, I read Sense and Sensibility, and I thought, hey, that Elinor chick is a lot like me. She’s rational, she secretly cares a lot more about people than she’s usually willing to admit, she’s got the knack of falling for emotionally retarded idiots, and she’s always running around after her stupid sister.
But then I thought, well, the Elinor and Marianne are basically designed so that, as a woman, you can identify with at least one of them. If you’re more rational and shy, like me, you identify with Elinor. If you’re twattishly ruled by your emotions, you relate to Marianne. (No offense to Marianne-type people out there, I just really disliked her character.)
So, I can pretty much write the Elinor thing off, as all it means is that I’m female.
Well, who else was there? Matilda was too social, Tiffany Aching is too capable, Death is too chirpy, Coraline is too adventurous, James is too henpecked, Miss Questing is too clueless… Whenever I run through the gamut of characters I know, I can’t identify with any of them.
Friday gone I went to the hairdressers. Quick trim and dye, nothing spectacularly different to what I had before. At first I though, good God, I look like a geeky Dudley Moore with a big rack. Then I brushed my hair, and it dawned on me!
I’m Velma. No one takes much notice of me in a group, I tend to stick out like a sore thumb, and I’m annoyingly brainy.
Also, I have that exact haircut, those exact glasses, and, I shit you not, that exact outfit in grey.
So there you have it: I’m Velma. I’m not sure whether I should be at all happy about this, but at least I’ve got a pop-culture reference point now.