Popularity and the Badness Edge
A LL of us desire maximum breadth in our selection of lovers, not to mention friends. This is facilitated via popularity. While there’s no mandate that we be popular, such a state has distinct advantages, both in influence and pleasure.

Hence it’s desirous that our lives be at once enjoyable and presentative of us as charismatic persons, enabling us to choose lovers and friends freely, assuring— to the extent possible— acceptance of us on the part of those we select.

An often neglected scale on the field of such options is the badness scale. Most of us have considerable latitude in choosing how arrant we are. Yet if desirability is our goal, why would we even want to be bad?

Within the self-constraints of the free individual, as well as the social constraints of a free society, two extremes mark the boundaries of choice— on one hand that of the Milquetoast, or goody-goody, and on the other the bad boy (or girl).

The former is hampered by constraint within and dullness without, while the latter, though more fascinating in presentation, carried too far is destructive to both himself and society.

Yet these poles demark a palette of infinite division, any selection from which carries some degree of maleficence. So why not make selection of this level— our badness edge— a conscious choice, thereby claiming that self-empowerment capability.

Since criminals seem to find lovers more easily than Sunday-school teachers, it might seem the end toward which to tend. Yet real violence is too high a price, both individually and socially. There are better options.

This writer’s experiences in the bad-boy department, while comparatively unnoteworthy, have not been entirely devoid.

My supreme achievement to date— apart from breaking a chain letter— has been to get myself permanently expelled from the video store at our local mall. For womanizing, no less.

Allow me to digress briefly, and tell you how it changed my edge.

The young clerk’s smile that afternoon didn’t as much say “Can I help you” (with your selection) as “Can I help you” (with your life). Two later revisits followed unsuccessful phone calls, even after her telling me she was moving out west, when—

Out of the blue a full-course kick out, complete with four-man security escort. My first reaction was anger. I petulantly drafted letters of complaint to corporate headquarters. Wrong, wrong.

It took a casual remark from a friend, who for purposes of this discussion we’ll call Friend, and who seemed delighted by the course of events, to put me on the right track: “That gives you bragging rights!”

What did he mean, bragging rights? Why brag about something like that? Friend’s a conservative, hard-working, church-going-type guy, his edge occasionally manifest in sarcastic wit.

Yet Friend seemed serious. It wasn’t the fact I was bounced, it was the reason— for taking a chance at happiness. Nothing more, nothing less. What passion worth its name wouldn’t rise to the scent.

Had the guards known my true motives— not mindless prurience but a theophanic desire to share my frugal blessings, as well as immortalize, in pigment, graphite, or emulsion, the Dianesque lineaments of the comely employee—

Even they would not only have apologized for any bother, but served the store a commentary on decency, garnished with a commonsense approach to edge-nurture and joie de vivre.

At the next party I attended, my regalement was everyone’s interest. I was the center of attention, something I found easy to get used to.

I’d had exhibitions of my work in major museums without fielding the kind of adulation I was getting at this informal gathering over a minor incident at the mall. If there’d been any available women I would have had them because, as I was by now aware—

I was a hero.

Heroism is not about death-defying feats, or parades— though the latter are nice at times. It’s about confronting angst at its most malevolent, risking the wrath of the hell-and-pleasure fearing, for something you believe in, and in some cases fantasize about.

It’s about braving the chance that you’ll never look at yourself the same way again— in my case, as a person for whom a citation for jaywalking was one step toward the electric chair.

Or that I’d never again be allowed to enter a familiar emporium— not to make a purchase, but to flirt with the sales personnel, as well as compliment myself on how much I saved buying movies elsewhere (invariably from a rental place, previously-viewed).

All for the sake of a woman— and an edge.

As I alluded earlier, most of us would not (nor should) do anything to hurt, or threaten to hurt, anyone (such as rob), or significantly steal or damage property. We’d no more consider putting sand in someone’s lawn mower than say, sticking up the neighborhood flower shop.

We might though, just for the fun of it, disassemble his television and leave it, or even— skillfully and safely— give him a hotfoot (tip: be sure the match is well-inserted between the upper and the sole of the shoe, being careful not to set his pants— or the house— on fire).

High moral character spiced with playful naughtiness is a suitable edge for either sex and any age. (For those so inclined, one bonus is having an excuse to be spanked by your partner.)

I’m apt to perform my stunt of choice when in the presence of a charming or lovely lady. Claiming to have studied the art of escape, I permit her to secure my hands behind me, any way and as tight as she pleases, with a short piece of rope— or better-yet chain— conveniently furnished by me.

Pretending to be surprised by her cleverness, I beg to be released. After she refuses— or before she acquiesces— I free myself (assuming the trick works).

Next I offer to let her try. Invariably she’ll consent, often believing it the best way to discern the secret of the apparatus, and before realizing what happened find herself helplessly and gorgeously bound.

Needless to say I take my time helping her out of her beautiful predicament, sometimes negotiating a kiss or two— or more— in the bargain.

That’s an edge worth having.

—Warren Farr

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© 2005 Warren Farr, revised 9/24