Here are two fictional women who are the same age:
And Jessica Day:
Blanche, you may or may not recall, is the star of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, a play from 1947. She is a thirty-year-old schoolteacher.
Jessica, you may or may not be aware, is the star of Fox’s The New Girl, a television show from right now. She is a thirty-one-year-old schoolteacher.
Here is a little something about Blanche: “Her appearance is incongruous to this setting. She is daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat, looking as if she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party in the garden district. She is about five years older than Stella [Stella is 25]. Her delicate beauty must avoid a strong light. There is something about her uncertain manner, as well as her white clothes, that suggests a moth.”
Here is a little something about Jess: “Jessica Day, or more commonly known as Jess, is the main character of New Girl. She is a bubbly young woman who just turned 31, trying to find herself after a shocking breakup with her boyfriend, whom she caught cheating. She has been a teacher since 2006 and she loves to play the handbells. Jess enjoys crafting, but doesn’t have much time for it anymore. She also writes Nancy Drew fan-fiction. She needed a new place to live due to breaking up with her boyfriend, so she moved in with three men named Nick, Schmidt and Winston. Her best friend is a model named Cece.”
Jessica enjoys playing sports with her group of attractive, racially diverse friends and going out on the weekends. Here she is during a game of touch football.
Blanche DuBois enjoys spiraling into madness. She must move in with her younger sister because she has turned thirty. Due to her being thirty, she finds lightbulbs and the harsh glare of the noon sun painful (because being thirty is taking away her beautiful face).
Blanche DuBois is thirty years old. Here are some things people have to say about Blanche’s appearance and personality:
“Daylight never exposed so total a ruin!”
“Genuine fox fur-pieces, a half a mile long!”
“I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.”
“Oh, in my youth I excited some admiration. But look at me now! [She smiles at him radiantly] Would you think it possible that I was once considered to be–attractive?”
“I never was hard or sell-sufficient enough. When people are soft–soft people have got to shimmer and glow–they’ve got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings, and put a–paper lantern over the light…. It isn’t enough to be soft. You’ve got to be soft and attractive. And I–I’m fading now! I don’t know how much longer I can turn the trick.”
“And men don’t want anything they get too easy. But on the other hand men lose interest quickly. Especially when the girl is over–thirty. They think a girl over thirty ought to–the vulgar term is–“put out”… And I–I’m not “putting out.” Of course he–he doesn’t know–I mean I haven’t informed him–of my real age!”
Jessica Day is thirty-one years old. Here are some things people have to say about Jessica’s appearance and personality.
“Pink wine makes me slutty.”
“I am throwing Cece’s surprise bachelorette party here tonight, and the only males invited are strippers, so oil up or get out, guys.”
To recap: Blanche DuBois is a thirty-year-old woman who has to move in with her sister and her sister’s husband because she has turned thirty. She married a gay guy once and this made her insane. After her boyfriend finds out she used to have other boyfriends, he leaves her forever and she goes so insane she goes to prison. This was an actual thing that happened to an actual fictional character in the 1940s, at which point the following things already existed:
- The Kinsey Report
- Latex condoms
- New Orleans’ first gay bar
Please join me in imagining the plot of A Streetcar Named Desire as set in the world of New Girl.
“Darling! Stella — please! You must understand. I’ve got to come and live with you. Can’t I please come and live with you? I’ve — you see I’ve nowhere else to go.”
“Stella…[whispered] I’m thirty.”
“Oh! Happy birthday. I still don’t see how th–”
“I married a gay guy once.”
“So I need you to take me in.”
“So will you be getting a job, or…”
“HE WAS GAY.”
“Right. You mentioned that.”
“So beautiful, but so gay.”
“I — this was, like — and i don’t mean to demean your pain but — this was like multiple years ago, right?”
“Please! Don’t turn on the lights! I’m thirty!”
“Mitch, I know a few things about your precious girl Blanche that might change your mind about her.”
“She’s dated other guys before.”
“What, like…a hundred or something?”
“No…I don’t think so. But definitely some.”
This has been your daily reminder that the past is different from the present.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.