Never Fall for a Hero

By Sue Schools


Never, Never, Never fall in love with a hero. Yes, of course, he may be strong, handsome, and virulent. Maybe he’s tall and well-spoken with degrees and/or medals. He might have polished manners or is tough like a stevedore, not one to be pushed around. He may be humble or smart-ass brash. But even if he rides a white charger or drives a white Ferrari, STEP AWAY.

Did you ever read John D. MacDonald thrillers in the 1960s? His rough hero was Travis McGee, who was a crime solver and man of stringent principles. McGee always taught a moral lesson or two. But every time, every single time, he fell for a beautiful dame . . . WHAM!! She died.

In current times, Lee Child writes about a very tall, very physical ex-military cop and wanderer, Jack Reacher. I just finished Without Fail. As usual, he employs the assistance of an equally strong female lead (spoiler alert), and BAM! she’s shot and bleeds out in his arms, leaving him to take up the trail for revenge. Reacher doesn’t even own a suitcase or a change of underwear, so how in Sam Blazes can anyone hope to domesticate a tumbleweed?

Heroes are expected to put out fires, fight villains, solve mysteries, and rescue damsels. In all likelihood, the hapless women are wooed and seduced but then become an unspoken burden. These guys are not destined to give up their quests to become farmers, teachers, or bus drivers, and relationships usually entail fidelity and commitment. At this point, it would be unseemly for our star to say, “Back off, woman.” Hence, her tragic and untimely demise.

He is encouraged to have a dog or a human male for a sidekick, but once his heart pitter-pats over a woman, her destiny is written.

Forgo, she must, and it helps if we can shed a tear for her. She has played a valiant role in exposing a more gentle side to her man. Possibly pillow talk has enlightened us to our man’s background and explained his strength in his convictions, given him a reason to step boldly when others would balk... to humanize him. But once he goes soft for a female, her fate is sealed.

In Clive Cussler’s Valhalla Rising, Dirk Pitt laments, “When Summer was lost in the sea and Maeve died in my arms, it left an emptiness inside me.” So, he has already gone through two fatalities and expecting sympathy from his third flame. Jeez!

One exception is Robert B. Parker’s Spencer and Susan Silverman. They even share a Labrador named Pearl. But Susan is a practicing psychologist and knows she can never own the private investigator. Spencer and Hawk operate outside the law to the tune of their own jungle justice. So she watches them walk out the door and silently rejoices when they are able to return, until the next call . . .

Another possible exception is a woman who can ride a horse while singing. Dale Evans was popular in the ‘50s but then, Roy Rogers was kinda wimpy. (The real star was Trigger)

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