E Is For Emily, Who Seems Sweet (At First)S

Ahh, Emily: the girl with the adorable pigtails who just might poison your soda.

On the surface, Emily is a cute name, a little name. Like Molly, it has that -ly ending that makes it sound sweet, childlike, pixieish. And when I picture an Emily, she is cute. She wears the aforementioned pigtails — she may even be able to pull them off past the age of 18. She's got freckles, and she probably owns a pair of Mary Janes. But beneath her adorable exterior lurks evil. It's not a bitchy, mean-girl type of evil, though. It's an evil that can be kind of awesome — as long as you're not on the wrong side of it.

Part of my evil-Emily idea may come from literary Emilies who were not what they seemed. Reclusive, supposedly virginal Emily Dickinson may not have been so chaste after all — and her poems about "wild nights" and volcanoes certainly weren't. Emily Brontë also never married and was, at least according to Anne Carson, antisocial and awkward. But she wrote the best — and the scariest — book of her whole literary family. Then there's Emily the Strange, who with her trademark Mary Janes and inscrutable gaze is clearly capable of dark things — including stealing the identity of a certain Nate the Great character.

Hollywood Emilies Blunt and Watson tend to play characters with an edge, and though Emily Mortimer often plays sweet, her face and voice have some mischief in them. In fact, she might be the best person to play my image of the quintessential Emily — someone underestimated because of her cuteness who is more than capable of cutting a bitch, perhaps in an ingenious and underhanded way. This Emily is a good friend to have, especially if your life sometimes called for someone devious. But she's a dangerous enemy. Her name actually means "rival" — watch out if she's yours.

Emily [Wikipedia]