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NANCY & ME

by Rose Madeline Mula

At the age of nine, my goal in life was to own the entire series of Nancy Drew books. A friend had given me The Password to Larkspur Lane for my birthday that year, and I was immediately hooked. I was convinced that if I could some day own every book written about the spunky girl detective, I would be deliriously happy forever.

How I envied Nancy. Even today young girls all over the world are enchanted by her and her life style. I believe she was seventeen when I first met her, yet I dont recall any mention of school. I assume she had graduated from high school and apparently had no plans to continue her education. Probably because her sleuthing left her no time to study for SATs. She did have time, however, to play excellent tennis, golf, bridge, and dance like a pro. She was also an accomplished equestrian and artist, and she spoke fluent French. She was an excellent driver, as well, and was always tearing around in her car a blue roadster, I believe.

Naturally, beautiful blonde Nancy had a boyfriend (was his name Ned?), but there was never even a hint of any hanky-panky between them. Its a good thing. Im sure anything like that would have traumatized me. I was so unsophisticated that I actually bought into that stork-delivers-babies myth.

Nancys mother had died when Nancy was three, which was convenient, because presumably a mother would have worried and discouraged Nancy from rooting around old houses looking for secret staircases and hidden rooms, uncovering dangerous secrets hidden in old clocks, and all sorts of other potentially hazardous undertakings. Incredibly, her doting father, a successful lawyer, never seemed to question her questionable activities or ask, How come youre not in college? or Isnt it time you got a job? or demand that she be home by ten. He never scolded her about not cleaning her room either because the Drews wonderful housekeeper did all the chores. (No hanky-panky between her and Mr. Drew either).

In retrospect, I realize that when I was nine, subconsciously my actual goal was not to keep reading about Nancy but to be Nancy. However, that was so far beyond the realm of possibility on so many levels (her rich father her boyfriend her car her fearlessness her talents her blond hair ) that the most I dared hope for was to own all the books about her. Alas, that was never to be either. Since my own father was not a wealthy lawyer like Nancys dad but a hard-working barber who walked three miles to his shop every day to save the ten-cent bus fare, there was no money in the family budget to buy books. Fortunately, however, the public library was free, so I was still able to read voraciously about my heroine.

Ive completely lost touch with Nancy over the past several decades. Its possible that Ned could be out of the picture, having been replaced by a succession of new boyfriends, some of whom may actually have attempted a goodnight kiss occasionally. The blue roadster has certainly bitten the dust by now, its warranty long since expired. She could be driving a Hummer or a Mini-Cooper for all I know, unless cataracts have curtailed her driving altogether. And Mr. Drew cant still be alive. Hed have to be at least 120 by now. As for Nancys detective work, maybe arthritis is preventing her from crawling into tight spaces and climbing rickety staircases. Who knows? I havent even been tempted to browse through any of the latest books to find out. I want to remember Nancy as she was when I first fell in love with her. No, not that way. Im not gay. And neither is Nancy. Unless that, too, has changed and Ned has been replaced in Nancys heart by a special girl friend rather than a series of new boyfriends.

Now that I, too, am older, I realize that Nancy, of course, is a fantasy; and I learned that even her alleged creator, Carolyn Keene, isnt real. Nancy was actually born in 1930 in the imagination of Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of a syndicate book packaging firm, who hired many ghostwriters, both female and male, to write the Nancy Drew books under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I was so completely enthralled by a fictional character. I never even questioned, for instance, how come Nancy never ran out of mysteries to solve. How nave is that? But I have since read that Im in good company. Among Nancys former fans are Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day OConnor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and legions of other successful women — and probably many men, as well. But theyd never admit it. Its much more macho to claim they were loyal to The Hardy Boys.

(Editor's Note: There's a company called Her Interactive that designs video games for women, including Nancy Drew games)

©2009 Rose Madeline Mula for SeniorWomen.com

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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