Why Do Girls Go for ‘Bad Boys’?

In comments the other day, Bill Q. brought up a topic that tends to slide its way into my family’s dinner conversation from time to time:

Unfortunately, what I recall in my high-school days is that many of the girls seemed to go for the good-looking guys who treated them like dirt.

Hmmm … yes, unfortunately, I remember that, too, Bill. And my 15-year-old son brings it up a lot.

My son considers himself one of the “nice guys.” He bemoans this sad truth and simply shakes his head at the fact that many of the girls he likes tend to gravitate, instead, toward the boys who are the troublemakers, the attention-getters. The boys who shrug off authority and any kind of … well … learning.

I told him that this won’t go on forever. I passed the salt and pepper shakers and said eventually girls will see “his type” as the more desirable. (I believe he gave me that “yeah, sure, Mom” look.)

But in the meantime I was faced with the question he posed to me and my tween daughter: Why do girls go for the “bad boys”? And why has that been true for generations?

At the time neither of us had an answer. (In fact, I think we both denied it.) But later, I thought about it again and remembered some discussions I’ve participated in on romance-writing blogs, where the “bad boy” is still alive and well in many a fiction setting (usually with boxing gloves, tatoos, a motorcycle and a mysterious past).  Continue reading

Food and Fiction Meme

My friend over at Incurable Logophilia ran a terrific meme the other day about food and fiction, so I thought I’d copy. It’s a great meme. It really makes you think about how food and fiction can be intertwined. Please add your associations at the end! I love to hear other people’s literary memories. …

 Food from fiction that you’d like to sample:

 Right away, I think of being a child and reading about the maple syrup concoctions Laura and Mary Ingalls made in Little House on the Prairie (and Little House in the Big Woods, I believe). (I guess that might actually fall under the “nonfiction” category, but I definitely remember reading that item in a book and wishing I could sample.) The girls would pour syrup onto the snow in swirling configurations, let them freeze, then eat them like a cookie. I always thought that sounded fun.

 As an adult, though … hmmm … well, I still lean toward the sweets: In Chocolat, I remember the way they described the hot chocolate in the book – thick and foamy, with real milk and real chocolate – and I recall wanting to taste that so badly.

 A fictional meal you would like to have attended:

 For some reason, the first thing that comes to mind here is The Great Gatsby, and the characters all sitting out on the veranda, the first night Nick visits Daisy. I would like to have been there, drinking claret while the summer wind blew the curtains and Daisy questioned whether the candles should be lit. It was such a strange but romantic conversation, with so many secrets. I always wanted to help Nick sort through the lies. Continue reading

Life-Altering Questions

A few years ago, when I was a stay-home-mom-who-freelanced (I was never sure which of the jobs was more demanding, so I packaged them as one descriptive job), I was standing in the kitchen, drying glasses, watching Oprah. There was a motivational guest on (I can’t remember who specifically) who told everyone to imagine, for a second, what they would be if they could be anything.

My dishtowel hardly missed a swipe. “I’d be a novelist,” I said, in the general direction of the TV set, putting the glass away into the cupboard.

I grabbed the next dish as Oprah left a dramatic pause. And then she said, “So why aren’t you?”

My dishtowel halted. My hands went to my side. I turned toward the TV and stared. I stared at Oprah. I stared at the audience members. The camera panned and caught similarly stunned expressions from everyone.

So why aren’t you?

It sounds sort of silly that a television show – and only one line out of it, at that – could change your life, but that show did. Continue reading

Lane Cake, Crescendoes and Atticus Finch

The Lane cake made its appearance somewhere around 9 p.m. It arrived after the vegetarian chili, but before the discussion about triathlons. And it was before the discussion of the 1940s in the 1950s house, but after the inspection of the dog bed for the cat. …

And thus went another book club. …

I love our book club. It’s one of those arrangements of people you don’t even realize, when you’re there in the thick of it, that’s amazing.

I had this experience a few other times – once with set of neighbors, from about 1996 to 1998; once with a group of kindergarten moms; and once with a group of coworkers at the newspaper. When you’re in the middle of things – in the middle of the everydayness of gathering around the coffeemaker at the newspaper or walking your babies or dropping your kids off at kindergarten – it’s easy to overlook the fact that you get along remarkably well with this group of people. You tend to think (in the everydayness) that you would get along with any people who were walking their babies, or that you’d laugh that hard with any gathering of coworkers who created weird collections of plastic cups in each other’s cubicles. But it’s only later – years and years later, sometimes – that you realize that … well, no. No, you wouldn’t have laughed that hard with another gathering of coworkers, or felt that connected to another set of moms in front of the swing sets. That was a special group. It was just the right personalities at just the right time who came together at just the right moment, when you all understood and needed and appreciated each other. It’s like the coming together of random band instruments on a street corner, all at the proper pitch and proper speed, to create the perfect crescendo. Continue reading

Blogs for the Person Who Loves To Read

I want to just give out a little link-love today. (Today is Saturday, a gorgeous almost-70-degrees-and-not-even-11a.m.-yet, and I have a million chores to do. So I’m just going to throw open the windows, do the boring chores, then try to get out of the house for some of the day! Oh, and write fiction. …)

Anyway, I want to give a little link-love to a writer friend in Switzerland who has an outstanding blog about books called Incurable Logophilia. She’s been keeping it up for years, and she’s written some great essays/reviews on many of the books we’ve read in our book club (The Life of Pi, The Bluest Eye, The Sparrow, The Known World, Middlesex, Madame Bovary, to name a few). She’s on holiday right now, but look under “Book Lists and Reviews” at the top, and you’ll see a long list of all the books she’s covered. If you love to read, browse around in her blog and look up all your favorites. You’ll get her take on them and see others’ comments, as well. Great fun. I have her in my blogroll, too, if you want to find her in the future.

And for my romance-reading friends, my favorite blog of all time is Romancing the Blog. A wonderful grouping of writers and readers, all coming together to discuss what makes a great hero, whether the heroine needs to have a best friend, how realistic you really want that historical novel to be, and other fun topics. The comment discussion is often as entertaining as the post itself, and Nora Roberts even pops in from time to time to leave a comment. It’s a lot of fun if you’re in the world of writing or reading romances. …

Have a great Saturday!

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