It was love at first sight. When he saw me, it was like heaven finally sent him an angel. And I was only wearing sweats, no makeup, and I hadn’t taken a shower in two days. My hair was a complete mess. Plus I stumbled on thin air and almost fell on my face. But he didn’t care. In fact, it only made him love me more. Because his love for me transcended time and space.
And he… HE is perfection personified. He’s Adonis, Hercules, and Zeus combined. He’s endowed with the power to get anything he wants. He’s smart, and witty, and incredibly romantic. He’s the greatest lover there ever was. He’s a millionaire. And I still can’t believe that he would be so head-over-heels in love with me. Lil’ ol’ plagued-by-mediocrity me.
Of course, this man doesn’t exist. And I like to think I’m not plagued by mediocrity. I hardly ever wear sweats, I shower daily, I’m not a klutz, and I appreciate makeup. So is that why this man doesn’t exist?
Here is why I dare ask such a… umm… “profound” question. Because if you look at most of the mega-bestselling mass market fiction published in the past decade, this is the man that sells books. Off the top…
Twilight’s Edward Cullen — a perfect man, with the experience of a hundred-some years, but in the body of a seventeen-year-old. He’s ridiculously handsome, rich, and romantic, and he’s in love beyond words with miss mediocrity. (I’m ignoring for the purpose of this rant that he’s a vampire.)
Fifty Shades of Gray’s Christian Gray — a perfect man, super handsome, incredibly well-endowed, millionaire, owner of his own business, helicopter and chauffeured cars. He’s also madly in love with yet another laughable miss mediocrity. (I’m ignoring for the purpose of this rant that he’s a sadist.)
In Death series’ Roarke — a perfect man, also super handsome and incredibly virile, blah blah. He owns half the Universe. In a somewhat refreshing twist, however, he’s in love with a tough, smart lady cop (her hair is sh*t and she doesn’t care about her appearance that much, but otherwise she’s pretty great). (Nothing to ignore for the purpose of this rant.)
(Nora Roberts’s) The Witness’s Brooks Gleason — he’s not entirely perfect, I’ll give you that, but he’s not too shabby. He, too, is handsome, great in bed, persistent and romantic. He is in love with a woman who’s not precisely mediocre, but is plagued by a complete lack of social intelligence (a tragic effect of misguided nurture) and lack of a sense of humor (in my opinion, a fatal trait).
Fill in the blanks with any hero of a mega-bestselling novel — perfect this, perfect that, perfect the other; you get my point. (I’m also ignoring for the purpose of this rant the writing quality of my first two examples–first two because what can I say, I happen to like JD/Nora.)
How does one reconcile the fictional Roarkes of the written universe with the men of real life? How does one keep from comparing every man she meets with that perfect, fictional man? Because he may be fictional, but when you keep reading about “him” in every book, you fall for it–he must exist if every book is about “him.” Story blends with reality and eventually you can’t tell them apart anymore. The next thing you know, you’re looking for the perfect wrong man while life passes you by. (Not I, of course; I just imagine that’s what happens.)
Also, why do most of the women these fictional men fall in love with always have to be mediocre, or one step shy of being so? Are the authors’ self-esteems so low that they can only relate with that kind of woman? Is the ultimate female fantasy a man who doesn’t have many standards? Or perhaps, is the ultimate fantasy a world where women need not make a single effort in order to get the love of the perfect man? Is it because love is supposed to be blind?
Really, what is it that makes the “love” story between a perfect man and an uber-mediocre woman so incredibly appealing and bankable?