Alright, here’s a momfession for you… I’ve read 56 books since January.
You’re amazed, right? Your opinion of me has just risen, about 56 points I’m sure. Suddenly I’m some bibliophile and you’re not sure how I fit all of this reading in amongst my regular duties as a wife, mother, sacred vessel (aka pregnant lady) and all around super star. Well, I’ll get real… really real. I’m embarrassed to admit, that the majority of the books I’ve read over the last several months are either trashy romance, young adult love series, based on some mystical magical world… or some combination of all three.
I feel like I should defend myself and say I’ve always been a veracious reader. I love all sorts of books and pride myself on being able to suggest poignant, well-written tomes to friends and family. But here’s the thing… I’m pregnant. My body aches in at least three places at any given time, a couple of which are in areas not appropriate to discuss on a family friendly blog. So when Dave got me a Nook for my birthday in January I started some light reading that soon turned into a new hobby. Pretty much if a book has some sort of immortal teenage boy who falls in love with a human girl and saves her from the perils of other immortals, her own un-known magical powers or a futuristic battle to the death, I’m in. It’s escapism in it’s most potent form. My girlfriends tell me not to feel too guilty, like pregnancy weight gain, reading books designed for 14 year olds is totally justifiable if your lady business hurts.
Reasoning aside though, I’ve started to notice a trend in all these stories… the novel ideal of a perfect man. Since most of the books are written by women and most of the traits of our literary heros seem similar regardless of what the books about, one must assume that there are hard and fast characteristics we want in the perfect mate. Based on month’s of “research” here’s what he looks like.
1. Unbelievably, Crazy-Good Looking - Whether we’re talking about Christian Grey or Edward Cullen every man in these stories is somehow the epitome of God-Like perfection. His abs are chiseled from granite, his perfectly mussed hair falls in front of his perfect angel face in just the right way, he literally takes her breath away every time she sees him (no matter how many times she sees him). And let’s not forget that while our heroine is ALWAYS just a little bit plain in her own estimation, our hero loves her passionately and is obsessed with her beauty even though she doesn’t wear makeup or know how to dress herself.
2. Way Over Protective – Maybe it’s because he’s a fallen angel and she’s a frail human girl. Maybe it’s because he’s got control issues. Whatever the reason it seems women aren’t feeling enough attention because in these books it always seems the man is wholly devoted keeping the girl safe and taken care of. Oh sure, she’ll scoff and spend four books of the series trying to talk him out of his overwhelming paranoia that she’s going to fall dead at any minute, but secretly, she loves that he’s so obsessed with her.
3. He Always Hates Her in the Beginning – It’s a weird one I know, but think about it. Most of the romance books out there always have her smitten from first sight and him acting downright rude verging on homicidal. Sure, later we’ll find out that he only acted that way because he was terrified of wanting her too much or some such romantic notion but either way, he’s going to play hard to get.
4. He’s Damaged Goods – Whether he’s had years of emotional abuse or years as a monster or years of loneliness etc, he’s got more baggage than LAX. Don’t worry though, over the course of three books she’s going to “fix” him and turn him into the perfect man. Never mind that it doesn’t get more fictional than this, that you can’t actually change your man, just keep reading, because if Anastacia can do it, so can you!
5. Their Love is Destined, but also somehow Cursed – They’ve fallen head over heels, and the mere touch of his finger tips on her forearm make her quake with unbridled passion, it doesn’t matter, they’re still totally going to have to battle at least 14 different obstacles to be together. There’ll be love triangles and people who want one or both of them dead, but they’ll overcome it, because love conquers all.
I could go on for a while on every detail that plays out throughout each of these series. I’ll even admit, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. I sometimes wistfully dream of my very own vampire/fallen angel/wizard who makes me swoon and rescues me from the “bad guys”. But then I wake up and I find myself here, on the morning of my eight year anniversary married to my best friend. Truth be told, Dave isn’t necessarily romantic. In fact, I’m sure he’ll get my anniversary gift at Vons on the way home from work because he forgot to plan out something sooner. He never swore a blood oath to protect me, or took me flying in his private plane, or whisked me off to Paris on a whim. But what he does do, and who he is beats out a fictional hero any day. He is the ultimate caretaker who gets me mint chocolate chip ice cream at 11 o’clock at night and constantly tells me how much he loves my pregnancy “curves”. He’s held my hair back while I’ve thrown up, seen me in more than one ugly-cry, watched me give birth twice, watched me eat an entire Meat Lovers pizza and still has the audacity to tell me how beautiful I am, every day. He’s far from perfect, but he’s also real and I’ll take an imperfect husband over a sexy fantasy any day of the week.
Ultimately the heros in those books are going to cease to exist once you turn the last page, but the hero here, the one who helped me do the dishes last night, he’s the one I’m writing our fairy tale with and I’m so lucky to have him, even if he doesn’t want to drink my blood.