Confessions of a Bad BoyBy: J.D. Hawkins
God bless the women of L.A.
Bless the gym bunnies who run their toned asses past the best cafés, bless the tight-dress crowd on a Friday night making beauty seem so effortless, bless the tanned women in bikinis getting high on the sun.
But most of all, bless the woman in those tight, ripped jeans and thick-rimmed glasses browsing in the corner right over there.
I try to peel my eyes away from her ass and remember why I came into this bookstore, but it’s too late. My blood is up, muscles tightening, jaw clenching. Suddenly I’m not browsing in a bookstore on a Thursday evening for the debut novel that an old friend just got published; I’m a man after a woman, and everything else – the bookshelves, the people around us, our clothes – are just unnecessary obstacles.
My target looks up from the book she’s browsing and scans the shop quickly, but her eyes settle on me for a split second longer than anything else. Her lips part just a little, and she quickly looks back at the page. It’s a small sign, the kind of sign most men wouldn’t notice…right before they start complaining that women are a mystery.
I drop the book I’m holding and walk towards her, the curve of her back conjuring up enough ideas to fill a porn series.
“You need some help?” I ask, leaning up against the shelf beside her.
She glances at me and goes about as red as a stoplight, though the quick smile and the way she pushes her dark hair behind her ear makes me wanna run it.
“No,” she murmurs, biting her lip. “But thanks.”
“You sure?” I ask. “I really don’t mind helping you out.”
This time she laughs a little, radiating nervous excitement that’s so obvious I almost feel guilty at how easy this is. Almost. Her eyes travel slowly down from my stubbled jaw to my white tee, then lower, lingering appreciatively, and then back up, lips parting as her green eyes meet mine again.
“Do you even work here?” she says, a little mischief in her smile.
“No. I just really wanna help you.”
She plays with her hair again, a dead giveaway. “I…I’m okay. I’m just looking.”
“I’m not talking about choosing a book.”
This time she giggles so loud she draws looks. She stifles it quickly and clears her throat.
“Sorry,” she says, turning to face me head on, “it’s just…this is crazy. The whole ‘meeting a nice guy at a bookstore’ thing. It’s the kind of cliché I didn’t think really existed.”
“Who says I’m a nice guy?”
She tilts her head a little now, the redness gone, replaced by a sparkle in her eyes.
“What are you then, a ‘bad boy’? Like the guy in those videos?”
I laugh a little more than I should. The comparison isn’t new, but I still get a little kick every time I hear it.
“What’s wrong with being a bad boy?” I say, as she rolls the book she’s holding in her hands tenderly. An unconscious gesture she’d be embarrassed of if she realized she was doing it. “Bad things tend to be the most fun, the most interesting. Food, booze, men.”
“And nice guys finish last, I suppose?”
“Nobody’s favorite is vanilla.”
She laughs a little, nodding, and I gently take the book out of her hands, sliding it on top of some other books on the shelf – I hate to be untidy, but I’ll forgive myself this time.
I keep my eyes fixed on her, an open invitation. She struggles a while, not sure whether to look back, but unable to turn away. You can say a lot with a look – and my eyes have always been my best feature. I can give a girl a look that’ll mean more than most guys can achieve in a year of presents, poems, and pleas. It’s a tragedy that so many women spend so much time on their appearance, communicating the depths of their being in a visual language that’s right there in front of everyone, striving to express themselves fully, yet these same women will spend most of their lives with the kind of men who never truly see them.
But I do.
“Wow,” she says, pushing an invisible strand of hair behind her ear again, “do you do this a lot? Approach women in bookstores?”