Everyone Should Meet their Heroes

I don’t think there’s an exact quote out there, but you may have heard the old “Never meet your heroes, they’ll only disappoint you” motto before. No one you worship can possibly live up to such high expectations, right? It would be like going to heaven and catching God up there smoking pot.

Well, maybe not. But I really think it has to do with the height of the pedestal and the width of their swollen ego.

I’ve got several heroes (Hi Mom! Hi Dad! Hi Dalai Lama!) but today I’m talking about about the big kahuna, my majordomo of heroes. The chance of ever really meeting him (outside of a hi or a handshake) made him the Holy Grail of heroes in my mind for many years.

My hero is a graduate in History of Queen Mary College, London (and holds an honorary Doctorate from the same institution). He’s written two novels and a movie that premiered at Cannes Film Festival. He is a championship fencer, once ranked #7 in the UK men’s foil disciple. Oh, and he flies planes, too. And not in the “I’m rich and I pilot my private jet” way. More like licensed Boeing 757 pilot. In fact, the airline he works for recently promoted him to Director of Marketing. He was also chosen to narrate an entire Discovery Channel documentary series on flying planes. And somewhere in there, he also had time to moonlight as a DJ on BBC 6.

He geeks out on anything William Blake and Dr. Who, and (bless his heart) hates reality television.

And he also looks great in spandex pants.

I admire a man who defies stereotypes...and who can fly me places.

My hero, ladies and gents – who is all that and a bag of chips – is Bruce Dickinson, the singer of Iron Maiden.

He’s gone by the moniker Bruce Bruce in past. He’s been called “Conan the Librarian” because he is a smart powerhouse of a guy. But his most famous nickname is “Air Raid Siren”, as it’s said he shattered a glass globe once with a well-placed scream.

You’re free to pooh-pooh and tsk-tsk, or write him and his band off as devil worshippers in a music genre so old it fell off a dinosaur’s paw. But you would really be doing yourself a disservice.

And besides, this is about me meeting my hero. Not a pissing contest of “my hero could beat up your hero”, etc. So back to the story.

Yes, that’s him on the stage between the Xs! And that’s me up in the seats, admiring him from afar.

I’ve wanted to meet Bruce since I was twelve years old. I wrote the letters that never left my keepsake box. I plastered my room with posters. I sang along with every lyric and brushed my teeth with a toothbrush embossed with his name on it. And when the concert rolled into town, I practically broke my fingers dialing the rotary phone trying to win backstage passes through the local radio station.

And I cried when I didn’t.

Then my father said something to me that I carry with me to this day. “Don’t spend your life waiting to meet Bruce Dickinson. Do something with your life so Bruce Dickinson will want to meet you.” Go dad! Awesome words. So profound, I actually found myself telling Bruce those exact words when I met him in 2005.

Bruce and Jess

He was charming and gracious and witty, a perfect gentleman. He joked with me and my friends, asked us questions and listened intently. Hard to believe not two hours before this picture was taken, he was bringing down a packed house of 12,000 screaming fans. I don’t expect him to ever remember me, or to remember that night like I obviously do. But I do hope to one day do something great in my life that would make him want to meet me, for a switch. Or at the very least, let me make him a sandwich.



noun (plural heroes)

  • 1 a person, typically a man, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities
  • (in mythology and folklore) a person of superhuman qualities and often semi-divine origin, in particular one whose exploits were the subject of ancient Greek myths.
  • 2 (also hero sandwich)North American  another term for hoagie

From Oxford English Dictionary