A comment on the Patrick Swayze tribute post echoed our love, but add, "I also think that Johnny Castle is the archetypal character that causes so many women to fall in love with that messed up kind of man." Fair?

"We want to be Baby who rescues him from himself, who gets him to be the person he really is," the reader went on.

Whether or not there are now legions of grown women trying to coax out the sensitive and passionate man out of the prickly guy (and who's to say he doesn't exist?), particularly if he's outside her class and culture, it got us thinking about the fictional representations — movies and TV, to start with — that could have influenced our romantic expectations. Says Anna,

Doctor Who made me think that romance happens when a man comes to your town with a time machine, takes you to distant planets and also the Italian Renaissance, and solves all problems with genius, wit, integrity, and a sonic screwdriver. I am not joking about any of this in any way and if I have ever had a Prince Charming fantasy in my life, this always was and always will be it.


It doesn't have to be a fantasy of who someone is, it can also be a fantasy of a situation. I wonder sometimes whether my love of the film Before Sunrise as an early adolescent primed me towards the exotic location and the transient, yet seemingly sublime, encounter. It's impossible to know how much influence these representations actually have. But it can come as a shock when you look back and find yourself repeating them.