I’ll admit it: He had me at three little words.
“I’m Chuck Bass.”
I’m a 27-year-old successful, self-assured woman, and I want to have a hot passionate love affair with Chuck Bass, a hot, albeit fictional bad boy.
It all started last season on Gossip Girl when he mumbled his now-infamous tagline. And he was right…he was the Chuck Bass: rebellious, nonchalant, excessive in every way, bordering on conceited in his love for himself. God. I never thought one character – a fictional character at that – could be at once so repulsive and yet so intoxicating at the same time.
But it was true; Mr. Bass had awakened in me something that had been dormant for far too long: my inexplicable love of bad boys, those souls who walk on the fringe of society, are law-abiding, but would prefer to abide by their own rules. In short: The ones your mother shook a fist at, instructing you to, “Stay away from that boy.”
I first dipped my toes into the waters of the Dark Side in eight grade. His name was Brian. He had that mysterious aura reminiscent of a 1950s James Dean with his tousled brown hair and deep, intense eyes. It never really helped his case that he was always being sent to the principal’s office. I never figured out what his transgressions were, but my innocent mind knew it had to be bad, and that was good enough for me. I was hooked.
And although he usually said nothing, it was those eyes that spoke volumes to me as a 14-year-old girl, eyes that said: “I’m from the other side of the tracks, so you’d better be careful of me.”
Oh, I was careful, alright. Careful enough to study and gawk from afar from the first leaves of fall until the first buds of spring. Who was he? What was his story?
I knew two things for sure: He was dangerous, and I liked that. A lot. Brian was the start of my slippery slope, and from then on, I spent the next decade oohing and ahhing at a string of bad boys. Like any addiction, I had a type, a drug of choice: The pierced, tattooed lifeguard who posed as a nude model in his spare time (ahh, I miss those days of being 16 and drooling poolside as he took off his shirt on hot June days). The tortured rock musician. And in one interesting turn that could make for a good lifetime movie, a boy from my church who insisted that black was the new pink (he had me at the black trench coat).
MORE JUICE AFTER THE JUMP…
I’m sure I’m not alone. For ages, from Romeo to Rodman (Dennis, that is) women have been utterly swept off their feet by the allure of the bad boy (Danny Zuko, anyone?). Bad boys do come in all shapes and forms. There’s the guy who drives his motorcycle a bit too fast. There’s the guy at the coffee shop who will never meet your gaze, instead opting to rummage through what looked like a top-secret brief case. It could even be the guy in the next cubicle at work who leaves the office four times a day to take mysterious calls on his cell phone.
It’s not that we want to fling ourselves into these wild relationships, losing ourselves – and our self-worth – completely, no matter how gorgeous or how gorgeously dangerous the guy happens to be. So why do seemingly normal women continue to fall for their charms? Why does the allure of the bad boy sway us so easily? I’m not 100 percent sure, but I can offer these helpful and humbling theories.
THE GOOD GIRL SYNDROME
I’ve always been the proverbial ‘good girl’: I went to church, didn’t smoke or drink, stayed in on weekends and always managed a strict 3.6 GPA. I lived a tame and somewhat ridged life, but isn’t that what all girls are taught from a young age? We have to be innocent, sweet, likeable, gentle. The bad boys were always taboo. It’s not that I wanted to morph into a Big Bad Mama; I was just tired of always being so straight-laced, of having everyone around me assume my middle name was Goody Two Shoes. Why couldn’t I taste that sweet nectar of rebellion? That’s how it is for a lot of us ‘prime and proper’ types. It’s not that we wanted to completely abandoned our ways and everything we believed in. We were just a bit tired of having to maintain that image. All. The. Time. We wanted the taste and feel of danger without buying the product and still knowing at the end of the day, we would tuck ourselves into bed promptly at 8 p.m., a little smirk on our face, of course.
THE THRILL OF THE SUMMER FLING
I soon realized I’d chosen the tattoo-rocker/nude model mold for a reason. It was safe. Like fire. I could get as close as I wanted and feel the heat, but never had to touch the flame and get burned. With these guys, I could fantasize to my heart’s content – all for free and with no strings attached. These were, after all, the men I fully knew I could never establish a serious relationship with, and marriage? Well, that was certainly out of the question with these men, men you would never dream of bringing to your grandmother’s 90th birthday party, men who tend to brood in the corners at parties and men who always walk around with a little devilish grin. It was rather freeing, actually. I could relax and live in the moment: just me and my obsession, guilt free. When you’re a teenager and have that first summer fling, you know in the back of your mind that summer will come to a bittersweet end. That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to enjoy myself along the way. At least I’d have great memories of Pool Boy walking around shirtless. Did I mention he was a nude model too?
THE FLORENCE NIGHTENGALE SYNDROME
We women are a caring bunch, sometimes, well OK, lots of times, to our detriment. “He’s a poor tortured soul. I could save him.” Sound familiar? We actually think we can save them, by our own sheer willpower alone. We like flaws. We thrive on imperfections. That in itself is sexy. We can work with that. We can get him to open up to us in a way he’s never been able to and once we see those tears start flowing, we know we’ve succeeded. We’ve helped him face his demons, seen his scars. The only problem? After that, he will get his life on track, get a hobby or two and maybe even a corporate job. Then we’ll inevitably wonder: Where did our Bad Boy go?
THE KEN DOLL ALLERGY
Let’s face it: Ken and his pals, with their perfect skin, blue eyes and blonde hair got old back in the ‘80s. As nice as it is to see a do-gooder Wally Cleaver, you can only eat apple pie for so long before it loses some of its sweetness and becomes, well, a bit sour. And boring. That’s when we need to add some spice to our life. Think exotic Ken or Hawaiian Ken with a secret, mysterious past.
It’s true what they say: Nice guys do finish last. To all you Nice Guys out there: Keep holding out. We’re slowly making our way to you. We just have to get this bad boy phase out of our system first. At least we know the good ones will be waiting for us at that finish line. They’ll probably have a glass of lemonade waiting for us too.