Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dead Hero

As a young girl, I was probably what the adults called “boy crazy.” I’d fixate on the cutest or most charming male around, sure that he was a god never to be outdone. Inevitably, he’d do something dumb, as boys are apt to do, and my fragile bubble would burst. His beautiful image would turn to ash faster than palms on Sunday. This was the beginning of a lifelong curse of being disappointed by that unreliable gender, of looking for that crack in the armor before it collapsed on me.

There were a few who persisted in their petrified state in my mind, frozen in time, untouched by human foibles. But eventually even those cannot help but expose their weaknesses, their indignities, their intolerant corniness.

I’ll never forget the collapse of one such memory, one I held so close to my heart for so long. Before cable TV and multiplex cinemas, we were at the mercy of program planners. We watched what they fed us, over and over. And before Harry Potter and vampire lovers on HBO, we had The Dragonslayer. I was ten and Galen was every girl’s heartthrob. A head of fabulously curly hair (it was the 80s), a slight frame perfect for a young girl’s obsession, and a smile so warm it could have melted the iceberg and saved the Titanic.

Galen was my hero. He slayed the dragon, saved the town, saved the girl – the tomboy of a girl, to whom I related oh too well – and was an all around brave guy. I went through life for years looking for Galen, only to meet silly boys with no interest in being men or heroes.

Then one day in the 90s, deep into my Ally McBeal obsession of all things “I don’t need a man but I’ll take one if he’s perfect”, I stumbled across Dragonslayer on cable. My hero had returned. Seeking a two hour reprieve from the disappointment that was my life, I settled in with flannel pajamas and popcorn to remind myself what I was holding out for.

Then I saw him. Not Galen, my brave, handsome dragonslaying hero, but The Biscuit. Yep, my childhood hero was played by Peter MacNicol, now better known to me as that stuttering, oddball from Ally McBeal. I made it about twenty minutes into the movie, wincing the entire time at the sheer campiness of it all, before I threw in the towel.

Another hero bites the dust.

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