Going Against Type
When I was thirteen or so, the first guy I kinda sorta “dated”, the way you do when you’re thirteen or so, had dark hair, was two years older than me, wore a leather jacket, and I have absolutely no doubt eventually rode a motorcycle. Decades later, my mother revealed she took one look at this guy, turned to my father, and said, “we are in serious trouble.”
Turns out, I have a type.
We all have types, that indefinable attribute that draws us to a man. The physical mishmash that makes that intangible want surge in our chests. Blonde hair or brown. Blue eyes or brown or green. Beard. Goatee. Moustache. Clean shaven. Skinny. Cut. Lean but muscular. Tall. Short. Soccer bodies vs American football bodies. Nerd cute or Varsity quarterback cute. Personally, a man’s attractive quotient goes up with the addition of scruff or a goatee (done right), almost like a hint of an inner bad boy waiting to be set free. And I’ve recently found my beard and tattoo appreciation has increased substantially. Not sure if that’s due to my advancing age and maturing tastes or…someone else.
I’ve got my own rendition of the bad boy jones. It’s a bit of a stereotype, but it’s mine and I’ll own it. Gladly.
Somewhere along the line, some configuration of physical qualities sets as a type. And it sticks. I freely admit to being immediately drawn to the dark hair/light eyes combination in a man. I don’t find an overbuilt musculature attractive like say those of professional bodybuilders, offensive linemen, or WWF wrestlers (though I greatly appreciate the work and discipline that goes into it) but I do really like a well-defined Adonis belt. Boy. Howdy.
But then there’s the moment where someone completely not your typical type blows you off stride. That rare, unexpected glitch when a man crosses your path who bears few, if any, of the physical attributes that usually draw you like a lodestone but still makes you think I want to climb him like a tree. That quickly, type gets tossed out the window and all you can do is enjoy the fall down the rabbit hole.
Damned inconvenient if you ask me.
A few days ago, some friends and I were discussing how different actors were or were not attractive to us depending on what role they played at a given time. An outstanding actor who has all the right parts in all the right places, Viggo Mortensen is physically not my type, but I am ridiculously drawn to Aragon in the Lord of the Rings series. Ditto Benedict Cumberbatch whose outrageously interesting facial structure (those cheekbones!) alters his physical attractiveness for me depending on how he’s packaged. I find Sherlock fascinating on several levels, yet not a sexual draw. But the ginger debonair Cumberbatch plays in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is worth trading a few secrets over.
Character kicks type to the curb. Outward packaging is merely the bait on the hook. It’s the inner qualities that keep us locked in. Sometimes the wrapping matches the gift; sometimes its brown paper wrapped around a diamond. I love the line at the end of the movie Bridget Jones’ Diary when Bridget tells Darcy that nice boys don’t kiss “like that”. Darcy: “Oh yes we f*cking do.” Outwardly, Darcy is a staid, solid, conservative guy. But inside he’s got more than a little bad boy waiting for just the right woman to enjoy him. My bad boy jones is strong, but I value certain character qualities in a man considerably more than whether or not he owns a leather jacket or has scruff. It’s the character of the man (or woman) that will last long after the packaging succumbs to off-screen reality.
When we write characters, when we’re creating an occasionally outsized relationship between hero and heroine, we look for those moments when type gets subjugated beneath emotion and eventually love. Chemistry is great and absolutely necessary to sustain or at least kick-start a relationship, both on the page and in real life. But things get really interesting when the wrong man or wrong woman turns out to be just what the heroine/hero really needs even if she/he goes absolutely, 100% against type.
Now we’ve got a story.
What’s your type? Have you ever come across someone, either in real life or fantasy crush, who was totally not your type but totally sucked you under anyways?
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