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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Aging out

Last week, a beautiful young woman ended her longstanding romantic relationship with a good-looking guy old enough to be her father. Or perhaps he ended it. Anyway, they broke up.

Why should we care?

No reason, really, but the internet was very, very interested nonetheless, because the aforementioned older man is named Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio – acclaimed actor, Oscar winner, former youthful heartthrob -- has reportedly never dated any woman over the age of twenty-five, even as he aged toward his current forty-seven years. And sure enough, his newest ex, actor and model Camila Morrone, hit the dreaded quarter-century mark this past June.

The news was greeted with one of those outpourings of snarky creativity that almost makes you want to forgive social media for degrading our discourse, endangering our democracy, and putting us back in touch with people we hated in high school. Enterprising journalists quickly combed through the resulting memes, GIFs, and tweets and brought us hard-hitting roundups of the best of the best (for instance, here, here, and here).

Here at Janeites R Us, this is relevant because one of the tweets that rose to the top of the pile riffs on the well-known moment in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice when Claudie Blakley, as Charlotte Lucas, defends her decision to marry Mr. Collins by declaring,“I'm twenty-seven years old, I've no money and no prospects, I’m already a burden to my parents, and I’m frightened. So don't judge me, Lizzy. Don't you dare judge me!” Except that in the formulation offered by the highly entertaining Twitter account Jane Austen First Drafts, poor Charlotte omits mention of her suffering parents and instead notes, “I’m already too old for Leonardo DiCaprio.”

Even as I was laughing, however, I worried that we Janeites can’t, perhaps, afford to throw stones on this one, seeing as how we consider it a happy ending when thirty-seven-year-old Mr. Knightley wins the heart of twenty-one-year-old Emma Woodhouse, or when thirty-eight-year-old Colonel Brandon marries nineteen-year-old Marianne Dashwood.

Maybe DiCaprio is just auditioning for the lead in the next Jane Austen adaptation. As Method acting goes, it beats eating raw bison liver.

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