Monday, February 15, 2010

Romance vs. Reality

My alter ego did a book signing Saturday with several author friends. One thing I love about signings is being able to speak directly with book store patrons, to find out what they like. One woman told me she loves a strong hero, a hot man who would lay down his life for the woman he loves. She said she was divorced but hoped to someday find that kind of man. Her companion, who looked a few years younger, said in reality, no man would act like the hero of a romance novel.
That got me thinking about the heroes in my books. Are they perfect?
Hell no. They're always flawed in some way--they have to be. But in the end, after they've worked through all their baggage, they are pretty darn close to perfect.
Is it unrealistic to hope for a man like that? I don't think so. Now I'm not advocating throwing away a great guy because he leaves peanut butter fingerprints on the cabinet or forgets to throw his socks in the hamper every now and then. But what's wrong with hoping for a hero? It's not like grown women are holding out for the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. Heroic men exist. I have one. And I know lots of other women who also have one.
What do you think? Have women lowered their expectations? Or should single ladies wait for that knight in shining armor?


Terry Odell said...

There's a difference between 'hope' and 'reality', I think. Back in the dating and early, "could this be the one?" days, I took a realistic look at his flaws and asked myself, "Could I live with that?" And I decided the goods outweighed the irritating quirks, and I guess my "yes" was the right answer because we've been married over 40 years now.

Michelle Polaris said...

I think the trick is not to find the one hero among the crowd, but to recognize the hero in the man in front of you. Yes, we all have to weigh the strengths versus the flaws and make sure the scale tips in the right direction, but I suspect there are many knights in shining armor buried underneath the sometimes rough male skin. Even now I'm discovering new wonderful things about the man I married, over a decade later.

Cara McKenna said...

I think heroism comes in a lot of different packages, many of which you won't read in a romance novel and wouldn't ever think to put on a personal wish-list.

A few months after my now-husband and I moved in together, we were walking home from the train station after work on a summer afternoon. I stopped dead in my tracks on a quiet stretch of street near our house and pointed to the ground. A cat or hawk or car had injured and half-mangled this little sparrow, and he (I know it was a he, I'm a hopeless bird enthusiast) was twitching and trembling beside the curb. No chance of fixing him—he was in for a few hours of terrible suffering unless a cat came along and put him out of his misery.

My husband took a look at the bird and a look at my face, told me to keep walking toward the house and not look back. He found a piece of cardboard, covered the sparrow, and ended all the poor little thing's pain and suffering with one merciful stomp of his foot.

My man's an outdoorsy Oregonian with a powerful beard and intermediate chainsaw skills, but he's never hunted and I don't think he'd ever killed anything before, at least not on purpose. I know the few seconds between raising his foot and bringing it down must have felt like an eternity. He spent the next hour mildly traumatized, as did I, but I don't think I've ever admired him more, felt more grateful for him mustering the strength and the balls I sometimes can't.

Goes to show you, heroism is unpredictable, and sometimes it ain't pretty.

Dalton Diaz said...

Marriage can be hard work, no doubt about it. But with the right person, it's more than worth it.

Cara, I'm so sorry. I work for a vet, and you really have to see some of the suffering we see to understand how putting an end to it is the humane thing to do. You never get used to it, it never gets easier, and each case is absolutely unique.

Savannah Stuart said...

I'm a romantic at heart but I wasn't blind to my now husband's faults and I'm sure he wasn't blind to mine (maybe a little, lol). Like Cara said, heroism comes in different packages. I don't think women or men for that matter, should settle, but I also think some single women wait and wait forever b/c their ideals or expectations are ludicrous.

I have this one friend who's gorgeous and funny and alone b/c her 'list' of the perfect guy is, IMO, stupid. If a guy doesn't ski (yes, that's right) then he's off her radar. That's such a shallow thing to care about, I doubt she'll ever find anyone of substance. In the long run, marriage is about being with someone who has your back through thick and thin, not about some arbitrary ideals. So many of my friends alway moan about how lucky I am and I got one of the last good guys, blah blah blah. Yes, my husband is amazing and he's perfect for me, but there are plenty of great guys out there. I try to reiterate to those ladies that even though it's worth it, marriage is hard work, not a fairytale ;)

Naima Simone said...

I think a woman should definitely hold out for her "knight in shining armor" and don't lower her expectations. As long as the knight has clay boots and mud-splattered armor!

I think there's a difference between expectations and standards. Expectations are like those ideas and ideals we have when we go into marriage. i.e. I will have breakfast in bed every Sunday morning. We will never argue. I will never have to remind him to pick up dirty underwear and socks. Unrealistic. And we end up disillusioned when they're not met.

Standards, on the other hand, are I want a man who will respect and love me in spite of my shortcomings. I want a marriage based on honesty, fidelity and communication. I want a man who understands that when I ask him to rub my back because I've had a hard day is not code for jump my bones!

My husband is by no means perfect but he is my Prince Charming--even if we are working on the dirty underwear and sock thing...

Wynter Daniels said...

Good point, Terry. I guess when irritating overtakes the good stuff, we have divorce!
Michelle - well put. Gotta love those diamonds in the rough.
Cara - that's definitely heroism in my book. A guy to hang onto!
I think lots of women expect that perfect man or they might not still be single. Expectations must be realistic, but holding out for a hero is great - if one comes along.

Stephanie Adkins said...

"...recognize the hero in the man in front of you"

I'm in total agreement with Michelle. To other people, my husband may seem like any other ordinary man, but to me and the kids, he's our hero and always will be. :)