Vampire Boyfriends

An old high school boyfriend, Aaron,* recently looked me up on Facebook.  Our relationship was a total cliché; he was the quintessential “bay boy” to my “good girl.”   Even though I’m now happily married to an entirely wholesome guy, I can’t deny that hearing from Aaron brought me back to the thrill of that relationship.  Even my adolescent self knew that I was never going to marry him or anything, but Aaron sure made my heart race.

I remember that he always smelled of cigarettes.  Despite the fact that I’ve never smoked, and in fact can’t stand being around it, the smell of Aaron’s smoky breath on my lips was like an aphrodisiac to me back then.  He lived in my neighborhood, and we often stole away to make out in the woods, unbeknownst to my parents.  His house was always filled with a crew of semi-relatives, including a young niece born to his older half-sister when she was just a teenager herself.  Aaron was more experienced than I was.  He was athletic, but his grades, his temper, and his lack of self-discipline generally kept him off most organized teams.  He was in my English class sophomore year, but he rarely attended class.  When we became a couple he came to class more often, which only drew me to him further.  Wasn’t that proof that I could save him from himself? 

My level-headed best friend, Sam,* would tell me, “You’re just so much smarter than he is.”  And of course I defended Aaron to her, insisting that he wasn’t stupid, just troubled.  Indeed, we were the ultimate cliché.

Above all, Aaron was always kind to me.  He put me on a pedestal; he treated me with respect.  I expect that he was drawn to me because I was different from him…Essentially the same reason I was attracted to him.  The catch was that I dreamed that I’d fix him, heal him, while he took steps to ensure that he never changed me.

Shortly after we broke up Aaron dropped out of school, and soon after that he overdosed on some ill-advised combination of street and prescription drugs.  I remember visiting him at home when he emerged from rehab, but by then our relationship had ended, and I was no longer fool enough to think that I could change him (or the circumstances that made him who he was).  

By now you’re probably thinking, “Thanks for the diary entry, Colleen, but what does this have to do with vampires?”

Let’s just say that there’s no doubting the appeal of The Bad Boy.  James Dean.  Mark Darcy.  Edward Cullen.  Dylan McKay.  The sideburns!  The furrowed brow!  The emotional damage!  They practically beg to be loved.  They make our hearts beat madly in our chests as they quietly brood behind rough exteriors.  The worse they are for us–the more dangerous, the more tortured–the more irresistible they become.

Especially for bookish girls who typically play by the rules, the appearance of these characters in literature is an escape, a fantasy.  Sure, good girls dabble with bad boy relationships in real life, but most settle down with someone safer, kinder, healthier.  Books are an ideal way to vicariously experiment with bad boys, consequence-free.  The teenage bad boy/good girl relationship is perfectly tantalizing–and perfectly rooted in fiction.  From Bella and Edward to Jane Eyre and the rogue-ish Rochester, girls can run away to something treacherous between the pages, between the stolen kisses of the characters.  It’s not a new paradigm; it’s an old one that spans genres and time. 

My girlfriends and I have recently dubbed our own personal bad boys our “vampires,” after discussing the Twilight Saga debate over Edward and Jacob.  Who should Bella choose? we muse.  Being a vampire, Edward is virtually unattainable, dangerous, and literally cold.  Jacob—half-dog, of course—is loyal, warm, and emotionally available.  If the werewolf is the sweet, genuine boy next door, the vampire is the unequivocally risky and alluring bad boy. 

As an adult, I fall firmly in the TEAM JACOB camp, but as a teen I certainly lost my heart to a few vampires.  My main bad boy–my vampire–was Aaron.

I’m not writing a bad boy character right now, but maybe I will.  Maybe I’ll draw on the memory of Aaron’s clandestine kisses, his tortured past, his experience and obvious sex appeal, to write a boy with some vampire qualities.  Someone equally perilous and protective, captivating and riddled with angst. 

I would never go back.  If anything this brush with my past has confirmed for me that I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made.  But talking to Aaron has reminded me what it was like to be a high school good girl, drawn to the adrenaline rush of the vampire bad boy. 

*false name

4 Responses to “Vampire Boyfriends”

  • fortunecookiejunkie Says:

    I love the idea of the vampire boyfriend. I’m using it as a writing prompt of sorts. I’ll cite you, of course. I can’t say that I’ve felt the pull of the vampire bf in that way, though. Sure, I’ve done the bad boy thing. But I haven’t wanted to “fix” them. When someone shows what I identify as weakness (a partner or potential partner), that’s when I run screaming. Or at least I did. Obviously, this could be revisionist history I’m engaging in here. Deep thoughts… 😉

  • Colleen Conrad Says:

    Cookie: Maybe “fix” was the wrong word here. “Save” could be more appropriate. They’re so wounded, so damaged, that it’s common for girls to want to take care of them. To give them the love that no one else can and rescue their broken hearts…

  • tessa Says:

    Jordan Catalano. he was the intoxicating and luring “vampire” this good high school girl yearned to save.

  • Colleen Conrad Says:

    Good call! I thought of him, too, after I published the post. “In the dream I keep having about Jordan Catalano, I’m trying to catch up with him, but it’s hard, because there’s something wrong with the floor. Sometimes my father’s there. Sometimes my great Aunt Gertrude’s funeral kinda gets mixed in. The end of the dream is always the same. I catch up with him. I yell and scream how he hurt and betrayed me, how I can never forgive him. He just stands there, like someone caught in a storm, who’s stopped caring how wet he gets. Then I wake up. The storm of words still pounds through my body.” Ah, I miss that show.

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