There’s this little picture I keep seeing on Pinterest (that of course now I can’t find) that reads, “The Moment You Fall in Love… With a Character.” At first when I read that I couldn’t think of any specific character I’d loved. Movies, sure. Books, sure. And then the names started pouring in. I remembered reading the American Girls book series when I was in elementary school and loving Addy and Samantha so much. I would have done anything to be their real life friend. This graduated to a love of the sisters in Little Women. If I could have only been a sister to Jo, been wrapped in the warmth of Marmie. My copy of Little Women was illustrated and I spent hours copying the drawings of the March family.
Nothing would ever compare to my childhood love of Laura Ingalls. I read the Little House on the Prairie books over and over again. Laura was everything I wanted to be. She was strong, independent, and feisty. Although she was often wrong and made many mistakes, she was never mean and always fought for her world to be fair and just. When I was in fourth grade, I dressed up as her for Halloween. My best friend was a ghoul. We were a strange pair wandering the streets and knocking on doors. No one knew quite what to make of me.
When most people say “fall in love” they don’t mean the way I’ve described. But how else can you describe it? It’s rare for me to love a male character. They seem wonderful, charming, endearing, sexy, thoughtful and so on from the pages or the screen but the idea of meeting them in person makes them immediately less appealing. I like them where they are. I don’t want to know that they never put down the toilet seat in the bathroom or don’t clean up the sink after they shave. Maybe they’re not much for spooning at night or they watch football too loud. I like to see them delightful and fun on the screen but I already have an imperfect lovable man in my life. I don’t need another. Instead I fall in love with female characters. Not in a romantic way but that I would love to meet them in real life. I would love to meet Laura Ingalls Wilder, the teacher, and discuss her pioneer upbringing. I would be delighted to come over for tea in the March’s house and hear the girls fight and play.
The characters that stand out to me as an adult are Ruth and Idgie. Do these names ring a bell? They’re the two lead female characters from Fried Green Tomatoes. Ruth’s incredible loyalty to her friends and family and Idgie’s unyielding demand for justice make both these women so seared into my mind forever. The sense of humor and ability to make light of hard times takes these fierce personalities into well-rounded, lovable, real characters.
When I think of Ruth and Idgie, I think of a friendship and love story that is timeless. I think of incredibly strong women.