Bad Boy Musings

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Oh my God. I need to never, not ever, drink a 20-oz bottle of Dr. Pepper seven hours before bedtime. Lying in bed for going on three hours, listening to my heart beating in my chest, the weighted blanket worthless, and trying not to keep checking the time. The corner of my bedsheet and the mattress pad have pulled off, again, and I tried to ignore that too, but it was bunching up under my pillow and so I laid there thinking about how to fix that without waking Todd.

Instead, I pulled out my iPad and returned to my latest obsession on Netflix. Ha. Excellent and perhaps not-so-accidental choice of words for You. Veruca suggested it a few nights ago and we started watching it together, in spite of the mature rating, and later abandoned it because there was just waaaay too much material of a suggestive nature (that’s putting it mildly). However, momma returned to it on her day off whilst attending to household duties and now I can’t stop.

It’s riveting and soapy, the writing is sharp and yet there are times when it’s just ridiculous how the story plays out. I think Penn Badgley, the lead, is outstanding. The style of the storytelling, without giving too much away, is mostly in present tense – but there are flashbacks for the main character and then there are his voiceover monologues. It’s those inside thoughts that really drive the story in so many ways.

I think Penn Badgley outdoes himself. He fully encompasses his character’s persona – his voice, his facial expressions, the sounds of a man in the throes of orgasm (see? Waaaay too much for a 14-year-0ld) – in such a way that it’s easy to forget he’s an actor playing a part.

V told me her friend has watched nearly all of it, and my first reaction is – she’s too young, she doesn’t know what she’s seeing, how does she feel about this character?? WHY??? But see, I already know the answer.

Penn Badgely, in an interview I read somewhere and quickly forgot, was stated as admonishing fans on Twitter for lusting after this psycho-sociopath. His – and his character’s – good looks are completely overshadowing the Big Red Flags of a man with serious boundary issues and a casual disregard for human life. The female viewership is not discouraged.

What does this say about women – about people – today? And it makes me wonder what a 14-year-old girl is thinking when she’s watching the shit show that is Joe/Will. Does she find him “pretty,” as she once referred to a boy IRL? Does she fantasize about meeting him, dating him, having him love her like that?

And that’s where it gets scary. When did we learn to glorify bad boys? How do we teach our girls how to identify “bad”?

The boy with the leather motorcycle jacket, the pierced ear, the long hair, quiet and seething below the surface… is he sexy or someone to be careful of? Why do you like him? What is so tantalizing about him, the idea of him – what does bad mean?

How do you not end in up in love with guys who ignore you until they want you, punch holes in walls near your head, cigarettes in one hand and a coke straw in the other? Guys with wandering eyes and other girls too, guys who need your money, or never call back.

At some point in your young life, you decided that “bad boys” were desirable. Which movie was that? That the troubled, volatile, no-rules boy was IT. How many of them were there?

Was the boy in leather who drives a fast car really as bad you made him to be? Or did you just want him to be bad? What did it take to make him bad? How far did he have to go to qualify?

How many good guys did you burn on the road to badness? How much badness did you really see? Did you find out that the bad boy wasn’t all that bad, or that he was, in fact, worse than you ever imagined? How many bruises did you inflict, or did he inflict on you – your body, your psyche, your soul?

How many decades will it take to undo the damage you opened the door for and invited in, all because bad boys are soooo good? Once you open that door, it’s not so easy to close. The weight of the room inside is full and the door no longer closes.

When you met him, did he give you all of his attention or did he make you feel like he could be somewhere, anywhere, else? Hello! Over here! Did he stand a little too close to you? Did you like that – the discomfort in his proximity to you – while his eyes bore holes through you? Did it make your stomach dip like a free fall?

Did you relish the moment you made him jealous of someone else? Did you do it because you wanted the reaction? Did you want to see him angry? Angry with you? Did you want to fight with him, because the fire it sparks is exhilarating, makes you feel alive, because you believe that you need the turbulence?

Is it your own desire to be bad that drives your desire to capture it in someone else? Why is being bad so damn good? What are the rewards? What are the consequences?

To Veruca, On Love

*Update: After posting, I realized there was something else to say. See at end of post.*

It took me a very long time to see love without rose-colored glasses. Don’t get me wrong – love is, as Shakespeare said, a many-splendored thing. I was enamored with love long before it was returned.

I liked a LOT of boys. I ended up “going with” (what we called it in middle school) two that I previously had zero awareness of before I heard they liked me. Lesson in caution: when a boy you’ve hardly noticed turns up in pursuit of you – proceed with caution. Not that you can’t fall in love with him, but it can be fairly intoxicating to be adored by someone.

To that end, beware the boy who pursues you when you’re already involved with someone else. It is one thing to love someone from afar, respecting the relationship you have with another, and it is quite another to make plain to everyone who will listen that he wants to be with you. Further, strategically placing himself where he is most likely to see you, and you him, fermenting a possible triangle which I assure you will not end well (see aforementioned “intoxication” above). If he doesn’t respect your relationship with another, how will he respect any he might have with you?

Leaving one boy for another is quite common and, even if you disguise it with a need to exit a “bad situation,” you have barely enough time to breathe and/or heal the wounds of the previous while you’re embarking on the next. Also guaranteed not to end well.

If you’re just leaving because boy #2 looks way better than boy #1, STILL. Give yourself time. You can’t recognize true love if you keep jumping from one pond to another without time to reflect.

Relationships that are always full of drama are not “real love.” If “we’re always fighting” is part of your relationship, it’s not a healthy relationship. And it doesn’t matter who is bringing the drama. If it’s him, it’s not good. If it’s you, you need to stop and take a good hard look at why. You will benefit and grow from an introspective look at yourself.

Your first real love may very well be the love that will define your expectations for every love that follows, good or bad. Or not. Not everyone’s first love is life-altering. But many first loves will lay the groundwork for every relationship you ever have, and you may subconsciously measure every subsequent relationship against that first, intense love. You may chase every relationship you have, unknowingly trying to recapture the same feelings, emotions, and physical reactions. No matter what, no matter how tempting, be aware – not to mold every relationship into the one that was your foundation. You will fail.

Instead, learn from that first love. Learn how it feels to be loved. Learn how you felt to give love. Learn how it felt to be treated by this person. Did you feel good, or did you feel uneasy? What characteristics did he have that you valued? Which would you choose to avoid? Learn how it felt when that love ended. Were you amicable? Was it ugly? How did you conduct yourself? Did you give yourself enough time to reflect and heal? (These are all relevant questions in every relationship.)

Beware the Rebound. The “rebound” is a relationship you find yourself in soon after a breakup. This person makes you feel good when you’ve been really sad and down. That’s great. Except, it’s not love. (See the aforementioned “intoxication.”) Which also means, you’ve had no time to heal.

Beware of the exotic. Exotic, as defined in the dictionary, is “of foreign origin or character; not native.” Accents are sexy. What is foreign is sometimes intoxicatingly attractive. What I want you to know is, don’t get stoopid over some guy with a foreign accent. It’s not romantic. He’s not different. He will treat you the same as any other guy you meet, maybe better, or maybe not as well. Just keep perspective and have self-respect. If you don’t, you will drown in that gorgeous Italian accent. Or Latino. Or English. Or Afrikaans. Or some form of  Asian.

Never, Ever, pursue a friend of an ex. If he’s good guy, he won’t go out with you. He may like you, but there’s a guy code (as there is a girl code) and that will preclude any attraction you may have to each other. As it should be. If he doesn’t care that you’re his best friend’s ex, you best be prepared to wonder why and what kind of friend he really is. Either way, if scoring you outranks his friendship with [your ex], that’s a serious character flaw.

Next: Long distance relationships are tough. That’s not to say they can’t work out, but be realistic about this distance and the amount of time apart. And more importantly, what are the boundaries of a long-distance relationship, and what are the guidelines? Be realistic in your expectations, and see how they line up with his.

Don’t give yourself up to someone who won’t commit to you. This can look like not calling you like he said he would to excusing an ex-girlfriend showing up, to blowing off your date, to openly flirting with other girls in front of you. He’s “just not that into you.” And don’t you DARE take that shit personal – it’s his flaw, not yours.

“Bad boys” can be intoxicating themselves – but be prepared to lose your heart and soul to this guy. It’s not going to end well for you if he’s drinking and doing drugs regularly. And – this should go without saying – ANY boy who lays a hand on you is abusive and you need to walk, no – RUN, away fast. “I’m sorry” is a lie you will regret believing. And, while we’re on the subject, verbal abuse IS abuse and no less of a crime.

Now for the icky part and I’ll make it quick: Sex is something you will consider sooner or later. I hope you would come talk to me about it, but you might not and that’s okay. Don’t let anyone, even a long-time boyfriend, pressure you into something you don’t want/aren’t ready for. But know that for you, sharing that will change you forever in ways you won’t understand until you’re much older.

To wrap this up before you’ve had enough – guys with girlfriends are OFF LIMITS. Have respect for yourself (and your fellow woman). And older guys are usually no different than boys your age. They aren’t always wiser or more sophisticated and, let’s face it, if he’s 10 years older that’s just gross.*

Finally, you deserve to be loved and treated with respect and reverence. Expect it and you will get it from those who deserve you, and the rest will fade away. Never, Ever settle for less. Never, ever, settle.

Update: I would be remiss to tell you that when you find someone worthy, love with your whole heart. Do not be afraid to love, or to lose love. Sometimes love doesn’t always end the way you want it to, but that is no reason not to try, when it feels right. You will most definitely not get through life unscathed by love, but to quote another famous writer – Alfred Lord Tennyson –  ” tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” It’s all part of the journey, my love, and I will see you through it all.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

                        ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

 

 

*This is actually directly from a comment she once made about older guys. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with a 10-year age difference. I’m not against it. I do, however, believe that this difference is felt more acutely and may be harder to overcome, the younger two people are.