On Pride and Prejudice

Charlotte's Side of the Story

By Melissa Senate

Mr. Collins wasn’t ugly. He was no Viggo Mortensen, but then, who was? Willy had a great a Roman nose. He had strong eyebrows, too big for his buggy, watery eyes, but they added thing necessary to his face, which was on the flat side. He also had remarkably clean fingernails.

I didn’t usually spend my lunch hours picking apart someone’s looks, but as Willy sat across from me in the Sixth Avenue diner, poking at his eggs and droning on about how Elizabeth wouldn’t go out with him, I took the opportunity to study his face. It was a face I saw every day, well, Monday through Friday. We worked together at Pushkin Publishing. Elizabeth and I were editors (me: cookbooks; Elizabeth: travel guides) and also best friends, and Willy was the managing editor, which meant he was in charge of production and schedules and bossing us around, even though he wasn’t our boss. I’d never really looked closely at Willy before; when you were late with a manuscript or hadn’t turned in your cover concepts and Willy came knocking with his clipboard and monotone voice and a ten-minute lecture about sticking to schedules, you didn’t look him in the eye. You looked everywhere else so that he’d get the hint and move on to the next unlucky editor. The problem with Willy, aside from everything else, was that he never got the hint. Nudnicks rarely did.

“The man has no social skills!” Elizabeth had yelped at our last company Christmas  …

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