I was chatting with my coworker Pat the other day. Pat has a sister back in Appalachia named Marie. Marie has lead, for lack of a better term, a disorderly life. She’s been married a couple of times and has three kids who are in the care of her parents because… well because no one seems to dispute that it’s better that way.

Next to the periodic bouts with narcotics, the thing that hurts Marie most is her choice in men. She is attracted to jerks. Rather, she is attracted to foolhardy, aggressive men and is, except in the thick of conflict, rather indifferent to whether or not his foolhardiness shows a disregard for her well-being as well and whether or not his aggression is aimed at her. I’ve never met her, but judging by her picture she’s a pretty girl and from Pat’s discription is not completely devoid of intelligence. She could, if the inspiration struck her, find a man that would help her put her life back in order. That is, of course, the furthest thing from her mind.

As Pat and I talk about it, we sort of lament those that made reckless choices with their lives. In the case of her sister, the inability to tell a good guy from a bad guy. Not even an inability but rather an attraction to those traits that strongly corrolate with abusers and neglectors. We lament her life choices with a saddened shake of the head.

Then we go grab lunch at Taco Bell.

I’m not sure there is anything much better than a Meximelt (hold the tomato), except maybe their grilled beef burritos. I love their beef burritos. She prefers the ground beef chalupa. There’s something about Taco Bell’s ground beef. It provides a heavy metal concert to the tastebuds. The music isn’t good but it’s loud enough that it doesn’t matter how good it is. It’s not how it tastes but rather the volume of the taste. And if the meat were an ounce leaner, the taste would not be but a fraction as good. You know how some peopleput a napkin on pizza to demonstrate how unhealthy it is? Pat and I are the kind of people that get upset that they’re removing that perfectly good grease from the pizza. It’s not that we’re indifferent to the unhealthiness so much as that we love and adore and cannot resist those things that make it so unhealthy to begin with.

Of course, such grease and naughty goodness leaves us much worse for the wear. Just as Marie always seems to end up alone despite her feast of young suitors, we surely end up alone on the toilet thanks to our feast of delectible nutritional sewage.

And of course when she reads this, Clancy will lament our life choices with a saddened shake of the head.


Category: Coffeehouse

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14 Responses to A Thing For Bad Boys

  1. Peter says:

    It’s one of these invariable rules of society that a certain number of otherwise-decent women will be attracted to bad men. Rarely does it work in the opposite direction. While once in a while a decent man is drawn to an evil woman, he’ll learn his lesson quickly and get rid of her. With women, however, Marie-type situations are disturbingly common – they are drawn to bad men over and over again, never learning their lessons.
    I don’t know why this happens, though I suspect it’s deeply rooted in our society’s gender roles. In many cases the women have flaws of their own that make them especially vulnerable to being led astry, for example Marie’s drug use.

  2. trumwill says:

    It’s one of these invariable rules of society that a certain number of otherwise-decent women will be attracted to bad men. Rarely does it work in the opposite direction.

    Perhaps, but certain guys are attracted to the airheaded and the needy in degrees that women are not. For most people this corrects once relationships start working towards a goal (marriage, kids, life-partner, whatever). Our younger years are laced with frivolity. Most grow up, but some, like Marie, never do.

    Anyhow, the point of this was not really to castigate Marie but instead to illustrate that a lot of us have our own self-destructive tendencies.

    In many cases the women have flaws of their own that make them especially vulnerable to being led astry, for example Marie’s drug use.

    In regards to this, I actually meant to mention that her on-again-off-again drug use was arguably a product of her choice in men, rather than vice-versa. When she dates drug users, she uses drugs, and when she isn’t she doesn’t. That’s how Pat describes it. If true, it’s a testament to how disciplined she is on being able to clean out — or that she is entirely dependent on a man to get the drugs for her, I guess. Either way, if tobacco is any indication, I don’t know how she could stand on-again-off-again with the harder drugs.

  3. Webmaster says:

    Will,

    Of course there are always the women who start out with decent men, only abandon them for real abusers later, and for some reason just take the abuse even though they don’t have to.

    I think part of it is part of old hormonal/biological urges to have kids with “strong” men, combined with a decent problem of defining what “strong” actually is. The abusive men usually are physically pretty impressive, and there’s always the problem that what women claim they want (nice, listening, etc) and what they actually want may be two entirely different things.

  4. Spungen says:

    She could, if the inspiration struck her, find a man that would help her put her life back in order. That is, of course, the furthest thing from her mind.

    Why do you think she has such options? Simply because, based on her picture, she’s pretty?

    When people make bad choices, I tend to think they chose the best of what was available to them. If there are x number of men who are jerks, there will be x number of women who have to link with jerks or go without. Easy for us to say they should go without, but …

    She’s a drug user with three kids, she’s probably poor. My guess is, she’s probably not passing up Prince Charming for ogres.

    If a woman wants drugs, it greatly helps to be seeing a guy who can get them. That pool probably contains a higher amount of irresponsible abusive men than does the general population.

  5. trumwill says:

    I think part of it is part of old hormonal/biological urges to have kids with “strong” men,

    Perhaps, but a lot of people of both genders are attracted to strong personalities. Strong personalities, including jerks, that attract women rarely lack of an inordinate number of guy friends.

    The abusive men usually are physically pretty impressive, and there’s always the problem that what women claim they want (nice, listening, etc) and what they actually want may be two entirely different things.

    This, too, is more generally true. A lot of people talk about the virtues of a balanced diet and how they wish they were in better shape on their way to Casa Ole. The same applies to partners. Guys always talk about how they prefer a woman that’s low-maintenance and yet high-maintenance women rarely have trouble getting a guy when they’ve got other things going for them.

  6. trumwill says:

    Why do you think she has such options? Simply because, based on her picture, she’s pretty?

    Being pretty will go a long ways. But her sister speaks highly of her intelligence when it comes to things outside life choices.

    She’s a drug user with three kids, she’s probably poor. My guess is, she’s probably not passing up Prince Charming for ogres.

    Yeah, but the kids are taken care of by her parents and are generally out of the way. So that wouldn’t affect her the same way that it would affect other single mothers.

    In any case, I’m basing my assessment primarily on her sister’s assessment, which is that she has always been attracted to “exciting” men. You’re probably right, though, that her options are likely pretty dried up at the moment. I probably should have used the past tense.

    More broadly, I think we disagree on how logical people are in how they pick mates. I think that men and women both often fall prey to very poor priorities and self-defeating cycles whereas you seem more inclined to give people (or at least women) the benefit of the doubt.

  7. Peter says:

    In any case, I’m basing my assessment primarily on her sister’s assessment, which is that she has always been attracted to “exciting” men.

    Of course, Marie’s sister might not be the best source of information. Not that her sister is being deliberately deceptive, she might not be all that familiar with what’s going on in Marie’s life. It doesn’t sound as if they’re the sort of siblings who confide in each other. And of course there’s a considerable geographic distance between {the inner southwest} and Appalachia.

    -{This comment was modified by trumwill to maintain anonymous location, alterations in italics}-

  8. trumwill says:

    I’d thought about that. If Pat were the traditional, snobby, or judgmental sort, I might be more skeptical. But she’s a straight shooter and a perceptive person, so I’m inclined to believe her on it. It’s impossible to say for sure, though.

    (I hope you don’t mind that I slightly modified your comment. I don’t care if regular readers know where I am, but I’m the paranoid sort and fear the power of Google, hence the fictionalized locations)

  9. Spungen says:

    I think that men and women both often fall prey to very poor priorities and self-defeating cycles whereas you seem more inclined to give people (or at least women) the benefit of the doubt.

    No, I agree that people choose qualities that aren’t good for long-term stability. Where I disagree with many people is, I don’t think people are usually drawn to others because they treat them poorly. Rather, they put up with poor treatment in order to get something else. It may be a shallow something (ie good looks, good drugs), but it’s something.

    I read a study a few years back that said when assessing a relationship, people don’t balance rewards and costs. Rather, they only look at rewards. So a woman won’t weigh the fact that a guy’s a bad-tempered addict against his charm and generosity. She’ll look only at the charm & generosity. So he wins out against a guy who’s kinda stingy and nerdy, but more stable and not physically abusive.

    The stingy nerd often mistakenly presumes that she likes Mr. C&G Jerk because she likes the abuse, and that he himself lost out for not being abusive.

    Men are equally shallow, and women are equally mean. We just can’t usually beat them up. Or get them pregnant and leave them high and dry.

  10. trumwill says:

    Where I disagree with many people is, I don’t think people are usually drawn to others because they treat them poorly. Rather, they put up with poor treatment in order to get something else. It may be a shallow something (ie good looks, good drugs), but it’s something.

    I mostly agree, actually. I don’t even think Marie is attracted to these men precisely because they’re jerks. Rather it’s more likely that she is attracted to certain personality traits that corrolate with jerkly behavior and she ignores the warning signs that a person might be physically, emotionally, or psychologically abusive.

    I do, however, think that there are some people that are eager to try to please the difficult to please and as time progresses the more the second person resists being pleased the more the first person invests of themselves in trying to please. I think a lot of us do this a little without realizing it and I think a few do it a whole lot. And I don’t think that this phenomenon is at all limited to romantic endeavors.

    And I think there are some other areas of mild disagreement on the general subject, but those can be saved for another time.

  11. Peter says:

    I read a study a few years back that said when assessing a relationship, people don’t balance rewards and costs. Rather, they only look at rewards. So a woman won’t weigh the fact that a guy’s a bad-tempered addict against his charm and generosity. She’ll look only at the charm & generosity. So he wins out against a guy who’s kinda stingy and nerdy, but more stable and not physically abusive.

    People apparently don’t learn very well from experience. It’s not hard to imagine a person failing to balance rewards and costs, and thereby getting involved with an undesirable partner, on one occasion. Twice, even. What’s harder to understand is how some people can make the same error over and over again. Marie, of course, is a prime example.

    Oh, and it hasn’t escaped my notice that what we have here is MORE bad news for nerds :(((

  12. trumwill says:

    People apparently don’t learn very well from experience. {…} What’s harder to understand is how some people can make the same error over and over again.

    To learn from your mistakes requires taking responsibility for your actions. People are generally averse to that. It’s much easier to believe that things just keep happening because of bad luck.

    Of course, I went the opposite direction. I internalized the belief that everything bad that happened was my responsibility (even if it was her fault, it was my fault for pursuing or getting into a relationship with her), so I would try to drastically change my behavior to get different results. I was completely oblivious to the notion that sometimes things do go wrong by chance and circumstance rather than stupidity and malfeasance.

  13. Spungen says:

    To learn from your mistakes requires taking responsibility for your actions. People are generally averse to that.

    The ironic drawback to “taking responsibility” is that if you figure the mistake is yours, you also figure can avoid making it again in the exact same situation. Hence repetition compulsion.

  14. Spungen says:

    What’s harder to understand is how some people can make the same error over and over again.

    That’s what tells me that maybe it’s not really an error. Maybe she really gets more out of the relationship with the attractive charming bad-tempered guy than she would with a stingy nerd. Too bad she can’t find an attractive charming guy who isn’t bad tempered, but maybe those are in short supply in her world.

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