Obviously, the world needs heroes. And happily, you just never know when a hero might cross your path. Why, only the other day I came across this guy (I really did!) on the London Underground:
He got me thinking about the heroes in our own lives, and the fictional heroes we love too. Why do some people look down their noses at women’s fiction and romance? Is it because a big part – maybe the main part – of the story is a woman looking for their own personal hero? There are plenty of thrillers, mysteries and action stories that feature a cut-and-paste hero straight out of the cliché handbook. And the current wild popularity of this guy:
…proves that the world still has a huge appetite for heroes.
Could this hero snobbery be because in romantic kinds of fiction, the central character is a woman, and her search is for a hero of the heart, not the galaxy? (There are usually other body parts involved, of course, but that’s another blog post!) Depending on the genre, this search might be right at the centre of the story, or it might be alongside her own complicated journey of growth and discovery. Of course, we know that A Hero Lies in You, and Sisters are Doin’ it for Themselves, and So What (love you Pink!). But all the same…Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.
If some people feel the need to be sniffy about stories that are personal, romantic, and ultimately uplifting, well, good luck to them. The rest of us will carry on enjoying our happily-ever-afters. Money/power/fame might make the world go round, but it’s love that makes it worth the ride. (Even Superman knows that.)
My Ghostbuster on the tube made me think about all the ways we meet our heroes in real life, so I asked some friends about their ‘how we met’ stories. Most often, it seems, we don’t need any actual heroics from our heroes – that profound ‘meant to be’ will quietly win out.
My friend Mel retold the story of how she met her guy. “I was out with my friends at a London nightclub having a lovely time. We were all having a dance, and it was very close to closing time when I saw someone trying to catch my eye. It was Matt, and he asked if I’d like to have a drink with him. I was very keen, but everyone was about to leave, so we swapped numbers and went our separate ways. I had a very good feeling about him, and lo and behold, he texted me a couple of days later…and that was 11 years ago.” They’re now happily settled in a picture-book seaside cottage in the south of England.
What about my author friends – they specialise in fictional happy endings, but how did they find their own?
“Sophomore year of high school, he saw me at the end of the crowded hallway talking to a girl he knew. He started hanging out with this girl and her boyfriend so he could get introduced to me. We dated, but I dumped him and broke his heart. Some 17 years later, he found me on Facebook; we’ve barely been apart a day since and are engaged to be married next year.”
Becky Flade, author of Fated Souls and Secretly Serviced
“My husband is my hero. Yes, he’s hunky and fun, but those aren’t the qualities that drew me in. Our relationship started off bumpy. Both of us were coming out of divorces and our parents, who knew each other, set up a blind date for us. I reluctantly agreed. Who lets parents arrange a blind date?! Well, he broke that date! I wanted nothing to do with him after that, but he had a good reason, and he persevered. Like the hero in Dancing with Detective Danger, my husband gave me unconditional love and space to heal from a traumatic past.”
Lynn Crandall, author of Dancing with Detective Danger
So if you’re still waiting for your hero – with his underwear on the inside, or the outside (or not at all!) – keep your eyes open. He’s out there somewhere, looking for you too. (While wearing his undies appropriately, I’m sure.) Maybe on the subway, or out on the town…or even at the airport, like Henry.
And whether you have a hero or not, feel free to keep reading those happily-ever-afters. Let the cynics sniff. We know what we like.
Squeeze and please that person, give ’em all your love…