Okay, whatever mental picture you just conjured up, this article is probably not about that.
Heroic qualities have been on my mind lately, mostly because I’m writing a hero that I don’t think will come off as alpha right away. He’s actually a decent guy with heavy baggage, while my heroine is the loner with a black reputation. I’m in that place where I’m worried the characters who have presented themselves to me won’t sell. I know, everyone says to write what’s in your heart, but I’d be really thrilled if I could contribute significantly to our part of the college tuition bills.
To keep from spinning my wheels over characters I know I’m going to write anyway, I read this cheese fondue recipe at One for the Table. It called forth a lot of memories. My parents discovered fondue while my dad was stationed in Europe and we ate it often. When I married, I registered for a fondue pot like my mom’s, but alas, did not get one. I still have the same DH though, so everything turned out all right.
Fortunately, while in France a few years later on our delayed honeymoon, I discovered a marvelous fondue set. Handsome red enamel, unyielding cast iron, strong enough for meat fondue and gentle enough for melting cheese. It was the fondue pot of my dreams, and I wanted him — um, it — the moment I saw it in the store window.
My DH acquiesced to my demands to obtain it, or rather an identical twin boxed up on the shelf inside. (I only wanted the pot for its physical attributes. Shallow but true.) We emerged triumphantly from the store with my new love clutched to my bosom, and headed back to DH’s second cousin’s house.
This relative lives a good distance away from the small town where we made our purchase. DH and I had enjoyed time alone on a bright summer day as we strolled in. On the walk back, however, the fondue pot had joined us. The cast iron fondue pot. The sucker got heavier with every block we passed.
No one looks at my DH and thinks ‘alpha!’. He wears glasses. He insists on a conservative haircut due to his job, and prefers suits and ties to open shirts and tight jeans. It took him awhile to figure out that the fondue pot was causing my shoulders and back to ache, probably because the first seven times he asked if he should carry it, I said “No, it’s fine.”
Eventually, he took the box and carried it the rest of the way back to his second cousin’s. He also had to take it to the post office and the railway station to try and ship it back to the U.S. Thanks to convoluted French regulations in place at the time, he ended up carrying it onto the plane (before 9/11 you could still do that) and argue with customs in New Jersey to get it into the country. He hated that fondue set, but he put up with so much inconvenience because it was important to me. Which in my mind makes DH an Alpha Plus.
As for the hero of my WIP, I still think he qualifies as alpha. He’s a master strategist who knows what he wants and goes after it. He accepts the responsibilities life has handed to him. Besides courage and determination, he also possess an innate sense of fairness, and he is fiercely protective of the people he loves. He also responds to the heroine like no other man, and needs her as desperately as she needs him. And he would totally lug a fondue pot halfway across Europe for her.