An Officer and a Gentleman.
Love lift us up where we belong. Where the eagles fly…
Who doesn’t know the famous scene where Mayo strides into that mill and literally sweeps Paula off her feet and—again literally—carries her off into the sunset as she props his white officer cap on her head. God I love that movie!
And while Richard Gere’s brooding, troubled Zach Mayo is undoubtedly the hero of the movie, there is another that upstages him simply from a romance writer’s point of view. Paula Pokrifki, portrayed by Debra Winger, had me going “wow” after the last bar of Love Lift Us Up faded away. Now don’t get it twisted! I still loves me some man-flesh and am a connoisseur—did I spell that right?—of the male form in all its sculpted, glistening, smooth, luscious…ahem…glory. But while recently watching An Officer and a Gentleman for once I wasn’t sighing over Zach Mayo aka Richard Gere…okay maybe a little sighing went forth. But it was Paula who had me captivated. And dying to get to my laptop!
Obviously the woman was beautiful. With dark flowing locks that even looked good under that ugly brown cap and a body that inspired me to put down my Prestige Strawberry ice cream and do a stomach crunch, I understand why Mayo couldn’t erase her from his thoughts even when he tried. Out of all the “debutantes” cruising the naval candidates for a husband and ticket out of Smallville Paula was the prettiest.
And yet there was so much more to her.
What endeared me to her was something I didn’t fully grasp until I was older, had fallen in and out of love a couple of times and was familiar with heartache. See, Paula loved Zach Mayo. She dug beneath his cold, distant exterior and saw the wounded, scared man beneath whose mother had committed suicide leaving him with an alcoholic, degenerate father. Her love helped shape Mayo into the man of integrity and selflessness he ultimately became. And still, rather than trap or trick him, she was willing to let him walk out of her life and never see him again. If a woman has ever been in looove she knows how hard it is to give up the man she believes to be her soul mate. I mean let’s face it. If Vin Diesel tried to walk away from me I would try everything from burying his drawers in my front yard to piercing his nostrils and sliding my rope through that ring!
Not that she was perfect—she wasn’t. Part of the reason she initially went after Mayo was to get out of the stifling, small-minded town that would have her work in a paper factory for the rest of her life. She was desperate. But her actions in spite of her desires made her the consummate heroine. What a woman! I have a new standard to reach for when I write my heroines from now on.
Damn! Wish I’da written her!