Friday, September 30, 2016

Elementary, My Dear

It always fascinates me when people talk about which fictional characters they'd want to be - I notice no one mentions Game of Thrones much. Not too many people opting for zombie books, either. Usually. I guess I'd always assumed that other readers were like me. I wanted to be the main character in whichever book I was reading at the time. Frankly, I spent most of my angst-ridden, middle-school, junior high years wanting to be someone else. ANYONE else. So the list of characters I would have given you was a mile long.

I mean, Meg from A Wrinkle In Time was super high on the list. Any of Ursula K. Le Guin's heroines are, too. But really. After examining all the evidence, there was only one possible conclusion for someone who desperately wanted to be to step into the shoes of a character far clever than she is herself: Sherlock Holmes.

Yes. Yes. Let's forget the whole 'he's a dude, you're not' BS. This is fiction. We get to be any freaking thing we want, right? And that's the whole point. Gender. No gender. Stripes. Polka dots. Aliens with blue skin and green eyes. No less probable than a secret agent with a license to kill who manages to single handedly save the world, sleep with anything that moves and avoid the clap all at the same time. Why should I not be Sherlock?

Oh, yes. I am aware that character is fraught with baggage. But to be that clever, that sharp. Not to mention intrinsically immortal. For a character conceived and created in the Victorian Era, he's looking awfully well these days. Despite some tragic reboots and reimaginings of his adventures.

Maybe the real answer is that the geeky little girl who curled up reading everything she could get her hands on because real life was pretty lonely also wants to be as popular and well-liked as a cranky gum-shoe in a deerstalker hat. The very best thing about Sherlock Holmes is that he is a misfit who had managed to make his misfittedness work on his behalf and to win him influence and acceptance. And while I'm not crazy about the notion of stepping into the shoes of a cocaine addict . . . I - Yeah, I dunno. I think I'm stuck on the fact that this character can be so beloved and popular, even with (perhaps because of) his foibles. That's mighty attractive.

Would you swap places with him?