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Tuesday 6 December 2016

What Katie Did Next: In which I actually admit to holding out for a hero

Katie Byrne
Katie Byrne

Two female friends in their 40s recently asked me what it is that I'm looking for in a man.

I've grown tired of shrugging my shoulders and scrunching my brow and claiming to be open to whatever life puts my way.

The truth is that I know exactly what I want, and now, in the company of more mature and straight-talking women, I was finally comfortable enough to admit it.

"I want a hero," I told them in as matter-a-fact a tone as I could muster. "I want to be in awe."

The sound of cackling drowned out the rest of my essential requirements.

"What?! Like Bonnie Tyler?" asked one of them in between snorts of laughter. "I want to be in awe!" mimicked the other.

One of them told me that I would change my tune once I had gained a few years of experience; the other sang the words to Tyler's famous tune - "He's gotta be strong, and he's gotta be fast, and he's gotta be fresh from the fight" - more times than I cared to hear.

When the laughter finally subsided, they told me in no uncertain terms that I should be happy to find someone who'll occasionally take the bins out, and lucky to meet someone who had all of his own teeth.

I wouldn't be happy with that, actually. I'd rather die celibate than settle with a consolation prize. I'd rather search the planet than settle for the fella who lives down the road.

By the same token, I know how easy it is to become jaundiced when you're a young woman living in Ireland.

Forget about holding out for a hero - women are holding out for a text message (that'll probably never come) in a city where the male of the species seem to have all of the privilege.

I've seen dozens of spectacular women wait patiently in line for a man whose only job prospect is a part-time drug problem, just as I know women of breathtaking beauty and savage wit who pay their boyfriend's bills.

Perhaps this is why I've developed an unhealthy obsession with action heroes. The most intoxicating encounter I've had in recent months was the day I went to see Jurassic World. It wasn't a date - I went with a pal - but the moment I locked eyes on Owen Grady, the badass velociraptor trainer played by Chris Pratt, I was once again reminded of the type of man I want.

I realise that meeting a velociraptor trainer is something of an impossibility, but surely it's not too much to ask for a man with grit and strength and determination.

Oh, how I wished I was on the back of that motorbike when he steered those snarling, blood-thirsty dinosaurs through the Costa Rican jungle...

Actors like Chris Pratt allow me to dream. I can fantasise about Ryan Gosling in Drive, even if my last boyfriend rode a pushbike. I can drool over Brad Pitt's hairstyle in Fury, even if the men I've been attracting lately don't have much hair left.

Dearest Universe, please send me a man of few words like Tom Hardy's character in Mad Max: Fury Road, instead of another version of Tom Hanks in Big.

I reckon we have Jason Statham to blame for this. I thought he was a B-movie in-joke until I saw a row of men watching The Transporter on a recent flight.

Can someone please tell me how an actor whose head looks like a sperm, and whose leather jacket looks like it was picked up from a market stall in east London, became the Everyman action hero?

We'd all be getting more action if Jean Claude van Damme was still around. Even Steven Seagal would be affronted...

When did men become so complacent? I know they fantasise about being Tyler Durden as much as I fantasise about being with him, so why is it that some of them can't deliver the goods when it comes to the crunch?

I can live without the motorbike and the pick-up truck and the martial arts training, but I simply can't understand men who believe chivalry is dead because feminism killed it.

On the plus side, I know they're out there. I have proof. My friend's now-husband ran after the bus she was on in order to get her phone number. A friend of a friend's husband built his wife a tree house in the forest.

I'm holding out for one of these heroes.

I want a man who knows that in order to woo a lady - lady being the operative word - you need to open doors, offer her your seat on the Luas and walk on the side of the footpath. We pulled the short straw biologically so we deserve preferential treatment socially.

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I want a man who doesn't hide behind text messages or convey his love through heart-shaped emojis.

A judiciously placed emoji is perfectly fine, but before you send a menagerie of animals and 72 thumbs ups, it's prudent to ask yourself the following question: Would Marlon Brando do this?

Heroic men are decisive. They ask you out with a place, day and time instead of testing the waters with tedious 'how's you?' text messages. They know how to fix things too. These days men are more likely to own a pestle and mortar than a toolbox, but I know I'd much prefer to hear "I fixed the bathroom cabinet" than "wait until you try my lamb tagine".

Heroic men are born leaders (and don't fool yourself - leaders aren't made).

They can find their way to a wedding in Ballynablahblah House just as they can find some obscure stage at the Electric Picnic or aisle in IKEA.

And should they get lost, they take it in their stride. They don't get wound up or worn down because they always leave something in reserve.

For the record, Bonnie Tyler married her hero and they are still together today. He's a black-belt judo champion, property developer and he owns a quarry. Hold out.

'Heroic men ask you out with a place, day and time instead of testing the waters with a tedious "how's you?"'

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