Beating the Bad Boy Mystique
March 10, 2002

What is it about women and our magnetic attraction to the  devastatingly dashing Bad Boy? My theory? Bad Boys are cotton  candy in life's amusement park. They're fun and indulgent. They're  sinfully empty calories, but women don't remember that until they  go back to eating real food.

What makes a Bad Boy? He has a charming and commanding  presence, swathed in a "take-no-prisoners' attitude. He tells you  his flaws up front. You think he's cool, maybe even honest, though  he may skip some pertinent details because you "didn't  specifically ask" (recent wedding, felony parole, diseases that  inhibit brain function, real age, etc.). He's the one who storms  in, flips a woman's world upside down with an amazingly romantic  roller-coaster thrill ride, then disappears without a trace.

Hmm ... smart women do this?

I know a little bit about this, from overseeing the  metamorphosis of a mild-mannered Clark Kent into an Antonio  Banderas-type desperado. "Brent" had just divorced his childhood  sweetheart. Out in the world for the first time, he was sowing his  wild oats. Apparently, he hadn't done a lot of grain  experimentation before.

He was a successful working musician and hard not to drool  over. With a nice profile to begin with, he came with the  traditional musician's build - a bit thin and lanky. Then he  discovered weights and found his inner V-shape. Encouraged by his  results, he donned an earring and grew his hair (ah, the days of  dating men with hair). These changes netted him 50 percent more  phone numbers each night his band played a gig.

He added the leather jacket after I was out of the  relationship, but that didn't stop me from nearly breaking a  restaurant place setting the next time I saw him. His manly strut  was just the icing on top of a seriously captivating cakewalk!  Though my mom wanted me to marry Brent, I was just his rebound gal  before he wed the next woman and started a family.

Another of my favorite past Bad Boys was a blind date, a James  Bond-type gift from heaven. I watched this cool drink of water  saunter into a nearby office building. Wow! I envied the lucky  girlfriend he was there to sweep up for a fun Friday night.

Just then, the stallion with the long trench coat;  shoulder-length, blond-streaked tresses; and see-me-back mirrored  sunglasses walked over to my car. With a cop-like stance, he  placed one hand over my door window. I thought he just needed  directions. Instead, he suavely spoke my name, inquiring if I were  her.

"I'm whoever you want me to be" was my only thought.  Thankfully, that didn't escape my lips.

I followed his 007-mobile to dinner. I later learned the  sleek car's door was held on by a coat hanger, but that night it  seemed like a spy movie fantasy. We dated for several months, up  until the time he slept with his ex-wife. Now he's out of state  and remarried with kids, but surely he maintains that sexy  baritone voice.

So what makes a Bad Boy fun to take out of the toy box? Ask  a woman at a five-star restaurant who's just ordered a triple  chocolate torte after starting a new diet. It's deliciously  decadent and wickedly sinful. Guilt is rationalized with the  thought that this is not an everyday indulgence. Brain waves will  resume tomorrow to replace the immediate sweetness of today.

The good news for the nice guys out there: We do come down  from our indulgent cliff dives. Women do get their brains back and  realize that Bad Boy has an alias. It's "Mr. Handsome, But All  Wrong." He always will be our fantasy ideal, a myth forever  perpetuated by Hollywood movies.

But I've found that it's the sweet guy who wins in the end.  He's the one who really does call back, who knows where the good  flower shop is on the way home and genuinely cares about a woman's  thoughts, emotions and soul. He is the man who gets the cherished spot in a lady's heart, brain and bed.