The song, “All the nice girls love a sailor,” is wide of the mark in its central premise, and I’m going to nail my skirts to the mast, as it were, and state my own belief that in fact all the nice girls love a bad boy.
I have no proof of this other than my own experience and extensive research amongst my friends, all of them nice girls and all of them with a story or two about bad boys.
As a student I rejected nice boy Brad (all names have been changed to save embarrassment) in favour of bad boy Jeff.
Jeff rode motorbikes, drank Tequila and slept with anything that moved. He smoked Marlboros (full strength) and stayed in bed until midday.
He would swagger, loose hipped, into college, beer bottle in hand, and begin his daily two hour painting session. He painted large industrial themed abstracts and refused to discuss his work.
The tutors loved him.
The term ‘enfant savage’ was bandied about in his presence.
Jeff was great fun, ruthless in his relationships and extremely talented. It was a dangerous combination.
At the time, as a naive twenty- something, I thought him the epitome of male beauty and spent many a tortured evening waiting for him to call.
If a man treated me like that now I would think he was a t**t, but that’s the thing about bad boys their allure fades as one grows older and wiser, great for a laugh but nothing else.
Oliver Reed was a classic bad boy, dark, smouldering and handsome in a rough, slept in his clothes all night kind of way.
He drank too much and did wildly inappropriate things but he had talent and his life was full of adventure. I can imagine a night spent with him would have been unforgettable.
Then there’s fellow bad boy Omar Sharif who when filming Lawrence of Arabia got so drunk the production crew had to tie him, El Cid like, to the horse so they could finish filming, whether apocryphal or not the story always makes me laugh and raises Sharif’s esteem in my eyes.
And who can resist Keith Richards that slack faced dilettante? If asked to choose between The Beatles or The Stones how many of us would choose The Beatles?
Not I. Give me a hard drinking loudmouth over a macrobiotic eating new man with sensitive skin any day.
Part of the appeal for me is the self containment, the aura of entitlement that a bad boy exudes, the independence, freedom of spirit. Women want to grab a bad boy then change him, but not me; I want to ‘be’ one.
Unfortunately society is still not ready to give a bad girl a break. Lindsey Lohan, for example, is vilified by the press whenever she falls out of a night club, but isn’t she more interesting than those pale, milk faced, large toothed stick insects that bang on about diets and healthy eating?
If you had to listen to that all day wouldn’t the complete oblivion promised by the consumption of large amounts of alcohol seem like a blessing and a viable life style choice?
So to all bad boys and girls out there I salute you. Tequila slammer anyone?
Photo credit: The Portraits of Duane Michals 1958-88