Dating and Other Life Tips from Nancy Drew

9 Jun

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Every woman could stand to learn some things from Nancy Drew.

I have been reading Nancy Drew mysteries since I was five years old. At 46, I realize just how far ahead of her times the titian haired heroine actually was. We women have much to gain by looking at her character.

Nancy Drew is eighteen years old. She lives with her attorney father, Carson Drew and their beloved housekeeper, Hannah Gruen. Nancy’s own mother died when she was three years old. The one fantasy element in the books is that Nancy doesn’t have to earn an income. Her father makes a more than generous salary and Nancy never wants for anything. There is always cash for fashionable clothing, last minute air tickets to follow up a lead on a mystery, for car repairs, and for luncheons at tea houses and hotels. (Most likely, these would be tax write offs, as Nancy often assists her father, investigating leads on his cases).

Other than that, all of Nancy’s attributes and successes can be attributed to herself. She is intelligent, determined, curious, passionate, kind, and ridiculously talented. She is exceptional at swimming, golf, tennis, dancing, figure skating, skiing, horse back riding, scuba diving, drawing, and acting. (I realize that being upper middle class, Nancy has exposure to opportunities that help refine her innate abilities). Many of her mysteries feature these very talents. She is also perceptive with an extraordinary ability to read people’s true natures. Although polite and classy, she doesn’t mince words, nor is she mousy. She is assertive and at times, ballsy and forthright. She doesn’t cower when people don’t like her for either getting close to solving a mystery and/or because she is so exceptional. Nancy has a spine of steel despite her refined, waspy exterior.

Yet what is also extremely interesting is the way she operates vis-a-vis the men in her life. Nancy is never short on dates. There is always some young man around interested in taking her to dinner or to a dance. Her regular beau, Ned Nickerson, clearly adores her and makes regular arrangements to take Nancy out to concerts, the theatre, picnics, or boating. As the reader, I get the sense that Nancy very much enjoys male company, yet on the other hand could care less about it. Nancy is not driven by romance. It’s a nice secondary gain to her life, but it is not running the show. While on a date, she doesn’t think twice about dropping the original plans to attend a function if a clue comes up. The man can accompany her as she follows up on a lead, but the message is 100% clear. Mysteries come first; dating second. A guy who dates Nancy has to deal with this, or he isn’t the right guy. Paradoxically, this makes Nancy all the more attractive and fascinating. Ned Nickerson clearly adores her, but then Ned Nickerson gets her. Not all men would put up with Nancy. Nancy takes up space. Although kind and considerate of others, she doesn’t rearrange her life for a man. The man has to rearrange his life for her.

Given that most of the books were originally written in the 1930’s, dating for Nancy is old fashioned. The men around her properly court her. They aren’t trying to get into her knickers and Nancy would have no tolerance for that if they tried. Instead they take her out because they genuinely enjoy her company and want to get to know her in a day-to-day context. Nancy doesn’t live in 2015 where most men expect you to sleep with them by the third date and if you don’t, they drop you because it’s easy to find another woman who will. After all, why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free? Nancy values herself too much for such nonsense.

Nancy would be both appalled and intrigued by our current trends, dating and otherwise. Without a doubt she would have a smart phone. She’d need it for researching clues and following leads. She’d use the GPS navigation and would text her friends about appointed meeting times. She’d use FB sparingly, partly because of her extreme humility but mostly because she wouldn’t want to leak information regarding cases or let crooks know her whereabouts. She might have a website advertising her detective services and she’d probably track her expenses in an excel spread sheet. Nancy is so modern and yet so old fashioned.

I sometimes wonder if the books continued, if Nancy would marry and have children. I imagine she would. She is too beloved and too relational to not take this fairly normal step in her evolution. Yet it’s hard to think about her married and with children because these elements would change her radically and infringe on the freedom that so defines her. She’d need to be with a man who truly assisted her in all things domestic so that she could continue to solve mysteries and be her own person. I could see Hannah Gruen dramatically assisting with the child rearing.

On the other hand, I could see Nancy perfectly fine as a single woman. I doubt she’d feel sorry for herself. I think she’d roll up her sleeves and get to work. She’d also have hobbies and friends and volunteer work.

Yes, ladies. I think we could all benefit from the example of Ms. Drew, even if she is just a character in a novel. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

 

 

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One Response to “Dating and Other Life Tips from Nancy Drew”

  1. marykoepkefields June 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    Thanks, Lise.

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