In an Ideal World

It was one of those dinner party conversations. The wine was flowing, good friends were nattering. We were mickey-taking, philosophising and reminiscing. We'd discussed the comparative merits of old films and new ones, debated whether nuns or metalworkers made the scariest teachers and tried to remember every FA Cup winning team since 1946 (yes, that date is significant – it was the year my beloved Derby County won the cup!). Perhaps no surprise then, that the random chat eventually shifted to our 'ideal' man or woman. For me it was a simple choice. In one of my favourite films, 'While You Were Sleeping' there's a character named Jack Callaghan.  Played by Bill Pullman, he's everything I would want in a man - good-looking (although not spectacularly so), kind, sensitive, bright and physically strong yet emotionally vulnerable. He's the kind of bloke that makes you laugh without having to resort to telling jokes. He has a fabulously quirky family.  He makes rocking chairs for grandmas and wears checked shirts and strong boots. Ok, I'm in danger of going off into my own private fantasy here, but that's just the point, isn't it?  It's a fantasy. That man does not exist. He is entirely the construct of a screenwriter, a director and an actor.  So there would, of course, be little point in expecting a  real-life version to exist. And that is perhaps why even those around the table who have found their 'other halves', made no attempt to identify their spouse as their 'ideal' someone. 
The problem with non-existent perfection is that it's impossible to attain, and yet this does nothing to stop us trying to achieve it. We can try to be the best we can, and of course we should - it shows respect for others and for ourselves, but there are plenty of chances in life to receive criticism without constantly heaping it on ourselves. And without heaping it on those we love.
As much as we might have preferred it, none of us live in a romantic comedy. Life is occasionally romantic and more often than not comical, but this is not the same thing.  Just as we rarely wake up on Christmas morning to find that it has snowed overnight, or enjoy a summer picnic without coming under attack from ants or wasps, people almost never meet the love of their life because of a case of mistaken identity or a mix-up at the poodle parlour. And even I have to admit few women marry the brother of the man who they lusted after from afar, whose life they saved and to whom they pretended to be engaged while he lay in a coma. It may work for Sandra Bullock's character but even someone with her undeniable lovability would struggle to pull that off in real life.  So we must I suppose, occasionally at least, be realistic in our expectations and accept that those we find ourselves loving will have their faults; they'll have smelly feet, they'll support the wrong team, they'll love (or hate) Marmite. It's unlikely that they'll catch three planes just to tell us they love us, or take a Prime Ministerial cavalcade through a London housing estate to knock on every door just to track us down. They'll not be perfect, but neither will we, so we'll love them anyway. But a girl can dream and, while we should have realistic expectations, I can't help thinking there's no harm in a little aspiration.
After all, there might just be a real-life Jack Callaghan out there somewhere ... if you find him, leave his details on the Contact page ...