The Right Man for the Job

I think our internal romantic preference may be permanently set at the dawn of our adult hormonal lives – in that dim, dark, scary pre-teen place where we transition from total child to official angst-ridden teenager. That’s right. I’m talking middle school, or as we called it back in my day, junior high.

Those were the days when my friends crushed on the latest pop star or celebrity. Bobby Sherman and Davy Jones, simultaneously actors and singers, were popular cross-over hits for a lot of my friends. (Who’d dating herself now, Gina? Yeah, just wait for this next one.) My tweenager crush?

Mr. Spock.MrSpock

Not actor Leonard Nimoy. Mr. Spock. Star Trek TOS debuted the week I started sixth grade and I was totally hooked. Pugnacious alpha Captain Kirk, in his serial shirtless glory, cavorting with alien babes at the drop of the Prime Directive, was never even in the race. Mr. Spock, though, was a guy who knew how to solve problems in ways that didn’t involve mutual concussions, the risk of interspecies STDs, and a prolonged stay in sick bay.

I tell you, I learned how to play chess for Mr. Spock, it was that serious.

Fast forward to the mid-eighties, when I discovered Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances. Heyer was notorious for writing Regency alphas (aka “rakes”) – what she called her Mark I hero. She had some Mark II guys as well – they had a stronger altruistic backbone and less womanizing, but still embodied the Regency masculine ideal, either through military service, excellence in sporting pursuits, or responsibility for the management of their estates.

But she only wrote one Freddy Standen, the hero of Cotillion, and once again, I was in love.

Freddy can’t compare with his Mark I cousin, Jack. He isn’t handsome. He’s not sporting-mad. Although he’ll inherit his father’s title, he has no responsibility for estate management. His entire family consider him to be a fool. Indeed, he says of himself “Got no brains.”

But he’s a Pink of the Ton. His taste, tailoring, and social address are above reproach, and he has a heart soft enough to allow himself to be talked into a false engagement with the heroine, Kitty, so she can escape her skinflint guardian and enjoy a month in London.

Kitty, who had ulterior motives – and a Mark I fiancé in mind – when she makes her bargain with Freddy, changes her mind about him over the course of the story. She informs Freddy’s incredulous sister that she believes Freddy is the most chivalrous person imaginable.cotillion

“I daresay Freddy might not be a great hand at slaying dragons, but you may depend upon it none of those knight-errants would be able to rescue one from a social fix, and you must own, Meg, that one has not the smallest need of a man who can kill dragons!”

Heyer nails it with that statement. The perfect hero is the one who has the tools to help his counterpart – whether heroine or, in the case of M/M romance, co-hero – solve the difficult story problems at hand. Not solve them on his own – because then he’d be a controlling know-it-all jerk – but with the brains to understand the issues and the heart to share the journey.

In spite of the Vulcan mojo, Mr. Spock has a heart the size of the Neutral Zone, and commits it entirely to his missions and his friends. Freddy, in spite of what he believes about himself, has the brains exactly suited to steering naïve Kitty through the complex shoals of Regency London society.

My own Curmudgeonly Husband has recently begun watching past seasons of The Walking Dead. One night at dinner, he looked at me, deadpan, and said, “Don’t worry. If you turn into a zombie, I’ll be sure to shoot you in the head.”

My hero.

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Posted on June 23, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. First… you have great taste in men. 🙂 Your post had me at Spock. Even though my teen self crushed on Welsey Crusher (I still heart Will Wheaton)

    Its funny you mentioned Georgette Heyer because I was recently at the Powells in downtown Portland and in their romance section, they highlighted this author. She sounded interesting but I didn’t know where to begin…. now I do 🙂 Thanks EJ!

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    • One of my absolute favorite TNG episodes is “The First Duty” — about Wesley’s Star Fleet Academy scandal. I thought the scriptwriters were brilliant — finally tarnishing his image a bit, but giving us a chance for him to show that he had trouble making hard decisions too.

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  2. I was always the outlier in teenage crushes–never going for the obvious or most popular. In ST original I crushed on Checkov. Though I liked Spock’s brain, the absence of emotion was a non-starter for me. The only ST version where I crushed on the lead was in Next Generation. Patrick Stewart will forever be my man. In the music of our times, I liked George Harrison best of the Beatles. I liked Eric Clapton (still like) because of his fingers and the way he plays guitar. As a tween I crushed on Donavan, and I liked Art Garfunkel better than Paul Simon. See…all weird. I think I like Beta guys whose Alpha only comes out when absolutely required. 🙂

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  3. I love Georgette Heyer! And although I wrote the heroine of my first short story, Fatty Patty, as loving a guy who resembles young Kirk, the heroine of my second story is unabashedly in love with Mr. Spock.

    Personally, I love new ST’s Mr. Scott. I just love Simon Pegg for his comedic timing. And, in the old ST, my favorite character of all time was Chekhov.

    There’s someone out there for everyone, right? 🙂

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  4. Oh, be honest. It wasn’t Spock’s brains we wanted. It was that long, lean physique and that restrained passion simmering under the surface just WAITING for the right (geeky) woman to unleash it!

    Er, or maybe that was just me 😉

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    • Nope. Not just you. Although I probably didn’t hit that stage until the second season (and the Amok Time episode when that heartless Vulcan beeyotch chose some other joker for her “consort.”) Although, come to think of it, it’s better that she dumped him, right? He’s available for us instead!

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  5. I laughed so hard while reading this, I scared the dog. Oh man, you have a way with words and fun twists.

    “Mr. Spock, though, was a guy who knew how to solve problems in ways that didn’t involve mutual concussions, the risk of interspecies STDs, and a prolonged stay in sick bay.”

    I too crush more on Spock and Kirk, always, no matter who’s playing the characters. And now I want to go read Cotillion.

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    • Georgette Heyer herself knew Freddy was a different kettle of hero — she referred to him in correspondence with a friend this way: “And my dear Freddy, a poppet.”

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