“I was six weeks with Edward,” he said, “and saw him happy. I could have no other pleasure. I deserved none. He enquired after you very particularly; asked even if you were personally altered, little suspecting that to my eyes you could never alter.” Chapter 23, Persuasion
Just after meeting up with Anne Elliot again, Wentworth said that she was so altered he would not have known her. But we also know that guys say a lot of things they don’t mean. Whether to stay out of trouble or make themselves look better, who knows. Women are prone to this as well, but usually for more complicated reasons. Men also have the ability to overlook a lot. They can walk around the same plate and glass on an end table for weeks if no one mentions them. I think this offhand comment was in the same vein as Darcy’s in P&P, said to look clever but never meant to be heard by the object.
The other day I was reading a blog post about many men not noticing when their wives change a lot over time. The example was of a man who married a beauty queen and she lost her looks over the course of their 40 plus-year marriage. He said he only noticed the change in her face and body when he saw how others looked at her. But when they were home, alone, she was his lovely beauty queen. The author of the blog is newly widowed and he said it was the same for him, and that he was pretty certain that his memories of his late wife will be ever green.
This bit of mental magic is alive and well in my own marriage. I’m considerably heavier than I was when Bill and I married 38 years ago. That doesn’t matter to him, he’s never said anything that can be construed as disappointment. And that’s why we’re heading for No 39 in a few weeks.
I like to think that Frederick was telling Edward the truth while his comment early on was just palaver you say to fill the time when you meet new people. We all get a little precious when we are trying to make a good impression. Maybe I’m all wet. I hope not. I like having a bit of a fairy tale world to retreat to these days.