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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I Am Fundamentally Team Peeta

by LJ (bio)

Please welcome our newest team member (and third Modern Mormon Woman), LJ, author of several great guest posts over the past few months. Read those posts or check out her bio.

The first time I read The Hunger Games, I fell in love with the character of Peeta Mellark. I absolutely gobbled that guy up. He was strong, sweet, tender. I know that from a literary perspective he was written as a foil to Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the series and who, in our world, would be the woman you see riding solo on a Harley down the freeway, her hair streaming behind her like a windsock.

But the point is, I loved Peeta because I was married to the guy who would’ve been his big brother in another universe. I acknowledged that Gale was the hottie of the series, so I distrusted him immediately for both his good looks and his testy manners. (Please do not take this as gospel or even informed opinion. I also am the only person I know who dismissed “Twilight’s” Edward Cullen because I knew I could never call him “Eduardo” to his face, so there you go.)

For all of you Team Gale women out there, know that I was totally there. I think every woman goes through a period where we dream of marrying a Mr. Darcy or an Edward Cullen (or, ahem, a Mr. Rochester). We want these guys beautiful, passionate, brooding. These men are free from things like nose hair or bad gas and when you ask them, “What are you thinking?”, they can come up with a flowery response on the spot, instead of saying “Nothing” and being completely sincere.

The thing that finally booted me out of my Jane Eyre fantasy was meeting my husband. He was tall, handsome in a Jimmy Stewart kind of way, and basically the nicest guy I’d ever met. He treated every woman in his life like gold. He was funny without being mean. He cooked for me on our third date. On our fifth date, we ran into a menacing black dog while hiking, and while I was near wetting my pants in fear, he calmly picked up a huge rock and said to it, “If you come too close, I will kill you.”

I think it was then I knew on some deep, cosmic level that I had found my soul mate. We married a few months later and now have a tiny little version of my husband who is finally growing some hair.

Anyways, this is why Peeta caught my heart strings in the book. Peeta was the one who, even while sick and dying, still sacrificed to keep Katniss safe and comfortable as possible. I think that kind of altruism shows an extraordinary depth of character.

And yes, I know he’s a fictional character in a dystopian world and blah blah blah, but the point is, there are Peetas everywhere out there. They are the nice guys, the ones who are the antithesis of even my dear Eduardo Rochester. We all know guys like this, the ones who try to smile through a migraine, the ones who offer their seat on the bus and the ones who use the bottoms of their shirt to wipe the snot off your kid’s face when the last Kleenex is gone.

Like Peeta, these guys are willing to work and sacrifice and protect you from your enemies or help you battle your inner demons. These are the guys who get out of their cars to pull debris off the road, the guys who dance with their grandmas at weddings, who treat service personnel like they’re human beings. These are the guys who are nice when no one is watching.

So let's hear it for Team Peeta, ladies. Let's rewrite the Panem anthem as an Ode to the Nice Guy and reward these men in our lives for their virtues, instead of wishing they were, you know, Liam Hemsworth.

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