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Dissecting a bad boy

It seems that many books in the New Adult genre have become wildly popular because of readers' obsession with misbehaved, but hard-to-resist bad boy characters. We simply cannot get enough of guys like Beautiful Disaster’s Travis Maddox, Easy’s Lucus Maxfield, Pushing the Limit’s Noah Hutchins, and my own sweet, misguided bad boy, Toby Faye of Saving Toby. Here’s my take on what is so compelling about this kind of guy.

Maybe he lived in a rundown house on your street, or around the block. Maybe he was that boy in the back of the classroom who seemed to be the bane of every teacher’s existence. Your brother’s friend whom your parents said was a bad influence. However you knew him, we all knew at least one: the bad boy.

He was a guy who had zest for pushing the envelope. The guy who took pride in getting people to react to his outrageous remarks, his cutting humor and dastardly deeds. Wherever he went, his notoriety preceded him. The rumors, the stories — he was a magnet for the disapproving looks and gossip.

You didn’t know much about him. Maybe you suspected his home life was bad, and that he’d been through situations most couldn’t fathom — he’d been exposed to a great deal more in life than you’d been, up to this point. Someone with that kind of knowledge was intimidating. So daunting that you would hold your breath if he walked too close to you in the hall, or heaven forbid, looked your way.

As much as his view of life intimidated you, you sort of admired him, too. You revered his ability to disobey so blatantly, to fight the system. If you weren’t so afraid of stepping out of line, maybe you’d skip class too, get high on an weekday afternoon, tell your stuffy science teacher where to shove his homework assignment.

The bad boy wasn’t afraid to step out of line; it was the norm for him. As teenagers, we went to great lengths to appear poised, confident and in the know, but most of us stumbled in our efforts daily. Fearlessness is an admirable quality, but for most, it is fleeting and obscure during high school. The bad boy, though, was afraid of nothing — at least not to us, the casual observer.

When everyone else was taking notes and trying not to sleep in class during 3rd period, you’d find him outside the school, smoking a cigarette, or maybe a joint. His disinterest in age-appropriate activities and academia was indisputable. When he made it to class, his interests appeared to lie in low cut shirts and the backsides of your shapely female classmates. With a lusty smile, you could tell he had other things on his mind than geometry.

He was a guy who seemed to understand the innate physical needs of a female body way more than you did yourself at that time, and that made him exciting in a way you couldn’t overlook.

Time to fess up. You thought about him. The constant disheveled state of his hair as he moved about unruffled, seemingly confident as he threw caution to the wind. This caught your attention. Then, you couldn’t help but notice how full his lips were, or how muscled he was when you’d seen him in gym without his shirt on.

What would you have done if you caught his attention, and he deemed you worthy of his pursuit? What if he went after you like he approached most objects in his life, afraid of nothing — would you been able to avoid falling under his spell?


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