My twenty year old stepdaughter was talking about two men that she works with down at the local pub. Both are bartenders. One of them - Daniel - is her age, incredibly kind, generous, and her younger brother and sister (upon meeting him) launched themselves onto his lap and declared him their new best friend. The other one - John - is her age, arrogant, and unkind to his now ex-girlfriend.
Both of them like her.
She only likes one of them.
John, of course.
Of course, because that is the way of things when you're young, isn't it? The bad boys, the ones who "treat ‘em mean to keep ‘em keen". The assholes who ruthlessly rake through our affections, wear us out, and leave us for cold. We've all done it. We've all had a bad boy.
Mine was called David. Curly red hair, older than me (a grad student to my undergrad status) and seemingly completely oblivious to anyone having emotions that needed addressing. Naturally I thought he was white hot. I had - at the same time - a lovely man that was interested in me. Kind, caring, considerate, he had a bit of a stutter and called me periodically (when he knew I would be out) to leave me a funny or kind voicemail on my message machine because he thought I deserved to be welcomed. Naturally I categorized him as a friend only.
It's the danger that attracts us - I think that adrenaline is not only addictive but also contagious. A chap who rides a motorcycle without a helmet or one who rolls his jeans into his socks on his bike is not a hard choice to make. I think we need that danger element. Whether you're a "good girl" or a "bad girl," we all relish someone with a casual disregard for others, someone who throws their weight around and calls it as they want it, and someone who (let's be honest) we all in our fantasies expect to be brilliant in bed. You don't get women draped on you and a reputation as a bad boy for having to ask, "Am I in yet?"
David called and told me he had tickets to see Hootie and the Blowfish and that he knew how much I as his girlfriend loved them (don't mock, it was the 90s after all). He also said he was taking another woman to see the concert. I saw David's danger for what it really was (childishness) and I ended it. He wasn't a bad boy. He was a cock, and one whose mad skills in bed were, frankly, a bit shit. The stutterer left me, too, so it was one painful lesson all around.
I watch my stepdaughter make similar decisions. We all have to make them and learn from them. The bad boy is hot, dangerous, exhilarating, but ultimately there's a reason that they're called bad. They teach us how to live and how to love - or rather, whom not to love.
And these days, give me a geek any day...