Tuesday, 25 March 2014

What Is It About Bad Boys?

I had a response from PPS about the long trail of comments following his pronouncement on What NCGs Should Know About NCBs:

It seems I should start blogging: two sentences written by me, and you have the most popular blogpost in months! Too bad I cannot be bothered.

By the way, is not this "clothes don't matter; what's inside matters" nonsense of many of your readers terrible? So much of your preaching to no effect. And they do not even realise that such an attitude at they present is a fruit of rotten modernism.

Of course, I may be in trouble now for having shared that snippet, but hopefully PPS cannot be bothered to get mad. I think it would be great fun if he did a guest post, for the same reason we cannot resist sneaking a peek at whatever terrifying film everyone is currently talking about. Pastorally, though, it might not be a good idea, for a certain percentage of young women cannot resist young men who say jaw-droppingly shocking things. If you don't conceive an implacable hatred for them on the spot, you run the risk of becoming addicted to the drama of unsayable said, like people addicted to roller-coasters. Possibly the same chemicals--dopamine and adrenaline--start coursing through our veins. A common complain from letter-writers is that NCBs are boring. NCBs may seem less boring to non-Catholic girls who are beyond startled that the NCB is saving himself for marriage, or opens doors, or believes in God, or loathes ab*rti*n. For many an NCG, this is just NCB as usual, ho hum... Look! Motorcycle!

Incidentally, one of the signs of spring in my high school days was the roar of an IROC (muscle car) pulling up outside the convent/school to its own stereo soundtrack. BLACK CARS. (BLACK CARS!) LOOK BEDDER IN THE. DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO...!

"Girls!" the teachers would shriek. "Get away from that window. Sit down!"

"Ginos," muttered the more conservative of the Italian girls, having known such boys all their lives. (Classmate to me, wailing, "You're so lucky you don't have to marry one!")

But for us others, there was much speculation and conjecture. Who were these boys? And who among us were their girlfriends? Or if not the girlfriends, the female friends? Only now, almost twenty-five years later, does it occur to me that the IROC drivers might have been picking up their sisters. This may be because the appearance of flashy cars rudely pouring music into the outraged nouveau genteel neighbourhood was rather more macho than brotherly.

"Girls!" wailed Mr McK, my Grade Thirteen religion teacher. "When I see you in those sleeveless prom dresses, I want to clothe you in suits of armour!"

Mr McK did not have a high opinion of teenage male sexuality. "Men are BEASTS, girls! BEASTS! The homework is question 2 on page 45."

Mr McK also showed us a probably dodgy film narrated by a priest and called "The Good News About Sex" and having become the most unlikely of the school rebels, I complained vociferously that in pointing out the differences between male and female expectations around sexuality, the film should be called "The Bad News About Sex." In hindsight, it could also have been called "The Not Universally Applicable News about Sex" because most teenage boys I met would have quaked at a sexy prom dress, let alone run off for a can opener to prise off the armour.

PPS is probably wondering, hair standing on end, where I am going with this post. Sorry, PPS. Naturally you are not an IROC driver, except in an intellectual, metaphorical sense.

Anyway, poor old Mr McK was doing his best to keep us safe from contemporary versions of his long-dead teenage self, but in so doing he probably aroused our interest in Bad Boys even more than if he had kept his mouth shut or had emphasized not that Bad Boys are dangerous but that they are so often uncouth or dull. I mean, Gino Vannili. Come on.

A guy who strings you along/humours you for years while flirting with other women is actually very dull; the guy who surprises you with a heart-winning marriage proposal and then bizarre anniversary presents every year is much more exciting. Now that I think about this, this may be because you can comfortably fight with him without worrying that he will immediately leave you for the hideous crimes of raising your voice, bursting into tears and blaming him for the fact that you put too much mustard powder in the Fat Tuesday Skinny Red Beans, not that I ever behave like that myself. (She looks shifty.)

But that does not resolve the problem of Bad Boys who are neither Uncouth nor Dull but merely enjoy making women flutter and shriek like a flock of chickens, keeping a beady eye out for the ones that neither flutter nor shriek but merely fall into a trance before their fox-like charm. I think the only cure is a vixen disguised as an entranced chicken. Fan art, please.

Incidentally, before I met B.A. two of his friends told me he was an incorrigible womanizer who needed saving. Women, they claimed, threw themselves at him, and I thought, "Huh! Well, I hope he does not expect ME to throw myself at him!" and longed more than ever to meet him. Fortunately, B.A.'s friends were wildly exaggerating his popularity with women, not to mention blowing up ordinary unhappy romances with the Misses Wrong to womanizing, so he enjoyed the benefits of being thought a bad boy without my having to suffer the reality.

The hope I am holding out for Nice Catholic Boys with this post is that if so far they have found themselves passed over by Nice Catholic Girls who tell them they just don't feel a spark, they may find success by boldly telling women where they disagree with them. It could be dangerous, of course, but it is certainly one way to separate the ladies from the wimmin. If you are speaking to a woman who derides "the anti-Choice" to you, you should politely tell them that you yourself feel strongly that unborn babies have the right to life. She may gape with horror, but as long as she doesn't denounce you on the spot, there is a chance that the dopamine and adrenaline coursing through her blood at your outrageousness will bind her to you. "Why do I always fall for the bad boys?" she will weep to her friends.

"Does he vote Republican?"

"I don't know," she weeps. "Maybe!"

Update: More comments up at recent posts! Sorry about all the moderation, but it's to keep the ads and crankies away.


Stellamaris said...

I hope PPS doesn't think that we think he is a Bad Boy. I understand that he is frustrated by shabby dressing around him. I am occasionally depressed at the way men dress. I think many of us merely balked at the idea of being placed on a pedestal of sartorial perfection and expected to uphold an unrealistic standard at all times.
Meanwhile, what is the fuss about people who think clothes are completely unimportant? If you are a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, then presumably you will want a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy whose opinions (and wardrobe, how convenient) you share. I can think of at least two such couples off the top of my head (though I don't know if they share clothes necessarily).
I don't think PPS needs to worry about such a girl throwing herself at him with "How dare you pass me over because I wear jeans and t-shirts? Don't you know it's what on the inside that counts?" Such a girl, unless inspired by his elegance to reconsider her fashion choices, is more likely to roll her eyes at his tweeds, pipe, and garters, and move on.
And yes PPS, clothes are a very popular topic here. Perhaps because we are GIRLS.

Sheila said...

Haha, exactly. Likers of jeans fall for other likers of jeans. I was never impressed by nattily dressed gents. Despite being raised very white collar, I had "bad-boy" heart palpitations for my slouching, jeans-wearing, draped-in-tattered-jacket love interest. He seemed so *gritty*! And he was from *Chicago*! A long way from the preppy suburbs where I was raised.

These days we are both very casual, except when my poor husband has to go to work, when he wears a tweed jacket because he is a librarian. He looks fine in them, but the moment he walks in the door he goes to change into sweats, and that's all much more "him." I don't wear my husband's pants because they wouldn't fit me, but I absolutely do wear his shirts and sweatshirts. It's very convenient. Men's clothes are usually much more comfortable and durable, too.

Seraphic said...

Yes, I wonder why men's clothes are so often better than ours. All the tweed jackets around me have inspired me to start looking up tweed jackets for ladies. I don't think I have a very tweedy personality, but there is just something so smart about a well-cut tweed jacket.

Whether or not PPS is a Bad Boy is one of those questions that take years to answer. B.A. is a Good Boy although people kept telling me he was a Bad Boy (with a Heart of Gold). Actually, it's all very complex, this question of who is a Bad Boy and who is a Good Boy, and who just looks like a Good Boy but is a Bad Boy of the Most Perniciously Sneaky Type, and who only looks like a Bad Boy but is in fact a Gentle Giant---and now for sure I am going to be lampooned on some unfriendly blog.

Anamaria said...

Sheila! My husband is a librarian, too! But he does like dressing professionally for work- he has a decided preference for non trendy clothes like pleated pants. Tweed jackets are even too trendy among the intellectual crowd, it seems.

Nzie said...

I certainly don't think PPS is a bad boy, although I wish he would read the comments. Also, ftr, neither I nor anyone said clothes didn't matter. :-) I do think you're completely right about looking nice and smiling and living in public. It's just that such a strict dress code without further explanation doesn't come off well.

I unfortunately don't meet that many NCBs, because they're a minority at law school, and between dividing my time between Roman & Byzantine liturgies on Sundays and not being able to attend young adult events, I'm not that involved in the parish here. However, I am graduating soon, and I am looking forward to adopting some more social hobbies...

even silly ones! I'd love to join the Society for Creative Anachronism - and hopefully making friends with other people who both love history & dressing up in medieval clothes. :-)

Antigone in NYC said...


I don't think PPS needs to worry about such a girl throwing herself at him with "How dare you pass me over because I wear jeans and t-shirts? Don't you know it's what on the inside that counts?" Such a girl, unless inspired by his elegance to reconsider her fashion choices, is more likely to roll her eyes at his tweeds, pipe, and garters, and move on.

And yep:

Likers of jeans fall for other likers of jeans.

Dress for yourself. Like attracts like. If you place a high value on smartly turned out traditional clothing, you will likely attract and be attracted by a person who also values smartly turned out traditional clothing.

I would question the wisdom of placing such a high value on smartly turned out traditional clothing (over other characteristics such as honesty, emotional stability, kindness, reliability, etc.) when the pool of faithful Catholic partners is as small as it is, but I admit hypocrisy: I like men of more casual style myself. The heart, and all that.

Fortunately, NCBs and NCGs come in tweeds and jeans. Vive la difference! :)

peregrinator said...

I've been an enthusiastic reader of yours for years and years and am suddenly moved to comment for the first time, perhaps rashly.

While I believe wholeheartedly that "packaging" (including clothing) matters if one wishes to attract an NCB, I can't let this last comment of PPS's stand.

Why do NCB's of the Trad variety (NCTB's?) impute *all* things of which they disapprove to M/modernism?

In fairness to NCG's who join the dress code/modesty wars, the notion that "what's inside matters" isn't modernist at all. Unless one's of the position that Plato was a modernist.

Plato is at pains in the Symposium at least (can't remember where else right now) to let his audience know, that Socrates, whose commitment to truth, goodness, and beauty is unparalleled among his interlocutors, is not a pretty sight on the exterior - not physically attractive.

This distinction that Plato makes, his student Aristotle formalizes in his Categories - distinguishing between essentials (qualities that are a part of the being - virtues in a virtuous soul) and accidents (qualities which do not affect the essence of a being - usually externals.)

Aristotle's Categories are one of the roots of Aquinas' theology. So, while the truth of the statement "it's what's on the inside that counts" is certainly debatable, it's just as certainly not modernist!

No doubt comments like the above are the reason that I have yet to find an NCB to marry *me!* However PPS has no need to fear that any other girl will spout Plato at him, as I am probably at least 15 years his senior, and also the type of girl that does not find Young Fogeys very attractive.

Seraphic said...

Thank you, Peregrinator, for your comment! Certainly I learned from it!

peregrinator said...

Thanks! (And apologies for hitting the comment button so many times - I kept thinking I needed to put in the not-a-robot text again.)

Someone who knows more than I can probably tear up my simplification of Aristotle a bit - I'm glossing the Categories pretty heavily.

I greatly enjoy your blog and am grateful for your attention to Singles.

Julia said...

I'd read PPS' blog if he wrote it. It'd be hilarious! (N.B. Not in the sense that I'd laugh at PPS; I just like the flair).

Peregrinator, thank you for that comment.

Bad boys? Meh. When I see a 'bad boy', all I can think is, 'Wow, he looks like a real d-bag.' I've never, ever understood why some women appear to go for the 'bad boy' type. I just find those guys so funny. Like, get over yourself.

sciencegirl said...

Ah, TLM hotties, the very best hotties in the world. At the end of a long day of grant writing and data analysis, there's nothing I like better than kicking back in my recliner in my torn jeans, Payless sneakers ($15!), college sweatshirt and disheveled hair and reading wry (and true!) comments about how I am awash in modernism and ignore all your wonderful advice.

It reminds me of my some of my many other crushes: Oscar the Grouch (who shocked and delighted my 5 year old self when he appeared on Sesame Street and disagreed with everyone) and also the first bad boy I ever dated, who wore button down shirts and said the most daringly conservative things. I had never met a preppie before, and I LIKED WHAT I SAW! Though the TLM hottie in question is no doubt much more charmingly dressed than Oscar, who wears nothing but a garbage can, he -- like Oscar -- speaks against the Sesame Street lessons from whence nearly all of my morality is derived. One of the reasons I loved Oscar so is that if I had said those rude things, I would have been in SO much trouble, but all the grown-ups did with Oscar was roll their eyes, look at the camera and say, "OH, OSCAR!!!" <3

Tee hee hee.

I'm glad you let the boys back in; this is so much fun.

c'est la vie said...

Peregrinator, I'm not up on my metaphysics and I imagine you'll riddle me with pertinent lines from the Greeks, not to mention Aquinas... but couldn't one argue that when speaking of human nature it would be a false dichotomy to separate body and soul, both being essential to human nature?

Hence one could say that the outward actions ought, according to the essence of human nature, to correspond to what is in the mind. So if in one's mind one is dedicated to beauty, nobility, etc, and in one's outward actions, including one's freely made choice of clothing, the opposite of beauty and nobility are expressed, we have a false dichotomy and a conflict between principle and practice that would be characteristic of liberalism (not sure if one can put modernism into the same basket, but they seem to fit well together?).

A less controversial example would be perhaps with reverence at Mass--would we not make a false distinction if we claimed that our souls were full of reverence when our physical actions were disrespectful? Short of our liberty in the matter being constrained, naturally.

Note: I'm not accusing any specific article of clothing of heresy--just arguing about the principle of the thing! Also I haven't studied theology and would be glad to hear comments!

Seraphic said...

Actually, yes, I was confused by the external stuff, too, as externals clearly influence internals. Look at "lex orendi, lex credendi"--or however you spell all that ("orandi"?) C.S. Lewis makes that the argument for kneeling while praying.

And you have to wonder what might be the interior effect of wearing loose trousers halfway down their bums on young men, and the interior effect of painting themselves orange, bleaching their hair platinum (and inexpertly rat-tailing it) and wearing leggings (and no skirt) on Edinburgh girls.

One thing I notice, though, is that there may be wiggle-room in PPS suggestions for what you wear AT HOME and what you wear IN THE CITY STREET, the city street assumed to be on the Eastern Seaboard or in Europe. The etiquette guides for the 1950s make distinctions for what is correct there and what is correct there. In what used to be called "the Wild West", it makes sense to me that everyone would wear jeans, boots and a cowboy hat. That's a really good look west of Ontario.

I have to admit (sigh) that it would be splendid if our (eastern seaboard and European) cities looked like Paris in 1950s films.

Curiously, in thinking about the 19th century, I was going to say that, yes, most people in the streets would be dressed very shabbily indeed, faded fabrics, mended holes, even for many dirty bare feet. However, one of the astonishing things about modern day Scotland is that you can still judge social class at a glance. Yes, the class system is a social construct, and an illusion, but people believe in it, and they dress according to it. Which drives democratic me rather insane.

Sciencegirl, I am so tempted to steal "Ah, TLM hotties, the very best hotties in the world."

Belfry Bat said...

I think Peregrinator (Welcome, O Peregrinator, to the fun!) was more pointing out the history these ideas have than suggesting that the essences/accidents dichotomy was the best way to thinking about humans and clothing.

Even accepting the dichotomy, it seems to me we should decide before discussing clothes whether we are considering them as accidents to humans or as part of the substance of work and social interaction.

(Even so, either way I wouldn't have much more to say...)

PolishTraveler said...

I had a feeling that was the precise reaction PPS was going for (and I've had my fill of pants/trousers controversy discussions) which is why I stayed out of the combox.

Growing up with Polish non-pretend brothers has its benefits ;)

Sherwood said...

Polish Traveler - you are very savvy.

peregrinator said...

Oh, c'est la vie & Seraphic,

Belfry Bat has my number and you are both correct - we Catholics are not dualists. We do not believe that the body and soul are unconnected, quite the reverse. The soul and body are not separable (until death.)

However, even Aristotle (although in a *much* less clear way than Aquinas) would treat actions differently than physical appearance. Physical appearance, for Aristotle, is the least of the distinguishing traits of any being.

That said, actions (even small ritual ones) for Aquinas certainly do matter, insofar as they the fruit of something interior - the will.

And there we get into complicated philosophical/theological matter, which I am not competent to speak on.

As, I said, it may well be that "it's what's on the inside that counts" is an error. All I wanted to assert is that it's a very old error. I tire of the (mainly) Trad contention that EVERY error has its roots in M/modernism.

And c'est la vie, I couldn't sling Greek at you if I tried these days*! Maybe some Greek-slinging hero will come and save the day!


(*These days I teach Latin to under-privledged youth and try to help them slog their way through very basic grammar and most of what else I ever new is worn away to a skeleton by the effort!)