Let’s Hear It for the Bad Boys

by Linda Rodriguez

In the second Skeet Bannion novel, Every Broken Trust, I’ve complicated Skeet’s life and
relationships with a dark and dangerous man of mystery who walks into the story
and makes Skeet feel things that scare her, as well as bringing out the jealous
side of nice Joe Louzon, Skeet’s friend and possible love interest. This was
not what I’d planned to have happen in that book, and he went on to play a
major role in the third Skeet novel, Every
Hidden Fear
, as well. I don’t know where this bad boy came from to
complicate Skeet’s and my lives, except of course he had to come from my own
head.

I must confess I’ve always had a fascination with the bad
boy. You know, like Marc Antony, Heathcliff, Sydney Carton in Tale of Two Cities, Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, James Dean in Rebel without a Cause, and Buffy’s Spike. I know it’s not healthy,
but judging by the sheer number of bad boys in fairy tales, literature, movies,
and television, it must be pretty common.

I
have been fortunate enough to have been married to two of the nicest men in the
world, my late first husband and my current husband, but before and between
them, I had lamentable taste in men. I blame it on all the reading I did as a
child. The bad boys were always the most interesting guys. I mean, in A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens’s Sydney
Carton was a drunken wastrel of a lawyer prostituting his great intellect to
the ambitions of lesser men with more willpower, sure. But what a passion he
had for pretty Lucy Manette! He sacrificed his own life to save the man she
loved, just so she would be happy. Wow! And in Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff—well, we all know how he made the
pages steam with his great love for Cathy.

One
sizzling scene in Buffy of a lovesick
Spike watching outside Buffy’s window at night inspired me to write a poem, Outside Your House at Midnight, Coyote” (“Closing
his eyes, Coyote can see within/ your walls as you undress and slide under/ covers”).
 This was followed by a
whole sequence of poems about the bad boy archetype as Coyote, the Native
American trickster figure, such as “Coyote in Black Leather,” Three O’Clock in the Morning Alone, Coyote,” “Coyote
Invades Your Dreams,” “Coyote at Your Wedding,” and others, ending finally with
“Coyote in High School,” where I asked, “I wonder/ if anyone ever warns the
hard-shelled boys in leather/ against the honor-roll girls?”
 (These are my most popular poems with women. I
even have a whole group of female fans in the UK just for the Coyote poems.)

Of course, I am the woman who wrote an entire book of
passionate love poems with the title Skin
Hunger
(“forgive me for touching so much/ while we talk/ I can’t help myself”). So the Coyote
poems and the new bad boy in my mystery novels should come as no surprise to
anyone, least of all me.

After the wild and disastrous period in my life still
referred to by family and friends as the time of “the mad monk” (don’t ask!), I
began to date a man who was a number of years younger than me. One woman friend
confronted me to tell me over and over again that I was being stupid, that this
younger man was only going to get tired of me and throw me over, that it was
just sex that was blinding me. I tried to explain that I loved the kindness and
brilliance of this man, but she kept holding forth. Finally, fed up, I said
sweetly, “You’re absolutely right, of course. I know he’s no good and is going
to break my heart, but I just can’t help myself—the sex is just so good!” Her
mouth flew open in silence, and she stormed out, never to be seen by me again.
That younger bad boy and I have been together now for twenty-seven years.

So let’s hear it for the bad boys! Have you a penchant for
the guys who exude trouble, the dark and dangerous types? Have you had any of
those passionate, crazy, and sometimes destructive loves? Or do you like to
keep those guys between the pages of a book, as I prefer nowadays?
6 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Oh, I was thinking Coyote before I even got to that paragraph, and I do understand the appeal of the wrong man . . . after one party a friend said to her husband, "We have to find a nice guy for Mary." Discussing poor Helena's abject behavior, I said to my Shakespeare class not to feel superior, that everyone falls too hard sometime. "Even you, Miss Garrett?" "Yes . . . and one day you. It passes, quickly and without permanent harm if you're lucky" . . . not so for Desdemona and Juliet who should perhaps have listened a little to relatives. I love your answer to the pushy friend, and so happy for you and your younger man. Age doesn't make him Coyote . . . Hugs! (Hmm, you and Susan McBride have this in common 😉

    Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      Mary, yes, we learn to appreciate the good guys as we get a little more mature. My younger guy has a gray beard and a little bit of a pot belly now, but he's still the same great guy I fell for all those years ago.

      Linda (posting as Anonymous because Blogger hates me)

      Reply
  2. Thomas Pluck
    Thomas Pluck says:

    Well let's face it, in fiction especially, they're exciting. It reality there's consequences. Like the opposite trope for males, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, they're fun in fiction but burdensome in real life. Not that it stops us from pursuing them.

    Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      Tom, one of these days we ought to write a story where a Bad Boy and a Manic Pixie Dream Girl get together and drive each other crazy. 😉

      Linda

      Reply

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