Ode to The Naughty Boy

Are any of you old enough to remember the original Fisher Price ‘Little People’? Like most vintage toys, they were far superior to the more modern versions because they were Real. Now I’m all for being politically correct when it comes to treating people with respect and kindness, but I will admit that sometimes PC can go too far.

By the time my kids were playing with the Little People, they had distinct personalities–they may have even had names…who can remember that far back? But the brilliant thing about the old-school peeps is that they let us give them their personalities. We actually got to use our imaginations. And they weren’t all–gasp!–happy.

Take the Naughty Boy, for example. At least that what I’ve always called him. Even as a child I was fascinated by this less-than-perfect character with his orange cap, freckles, and prominent scowl. You mean, someone was actually allowed to be angry? Permanently?? This just was not an acceptable emotion back in the 70’s, and honestly, even though we are told now to embrace our various emotions, let’s face it–people around us get pretty darn uncomfortable when we are feeling anything but peachy keen.

My now 20-something daughter is so aware of my sentimental memories of the Naughty Boy that she gifted one to me last year. He sits on my bookshelf near a photo of me in my Hollywood band days, reminding me how the love of the Naughty Boy followed me through most of my young life.

Man, pretty much every guy I dated back in those days could have had that moniker. Sure, they all had long hair instead of the cap, along with guy-liner and lipstick instead of the freckles…but they were Bad. Oh, many of them were nice enough to me, until they weren’t. These boys with the various names of Roach, Bumper, and Schitzo were only interested in themselves, and only wanted arm candy with no goals of their own except to make enough money to buy them drinks and guitars. To be fair, most of us at that age are pretty self-absorbed; but back then I really had the knack of finding the boys that were not good for me at all.

Me onstage, surrounded by Naughty Boys in all their lipstick, guyliner glory.

From talking to many women over the years, I know that I am not alone in this. Why are so many of us drawn to the Naughty Boys?

I wonder if it goes back to being enamored with the guts that the toy had to be anything but perfect? I wanted to be that Little People boy, who wasn’t told to ‘smile’ on the days I didn’t feel like it, who didn’t feel that I had to be what others expected of me, to always ‘fit in’ so that they would like me. I wanted to be a rebel, an unconventional, I wanted to break out of the mold that was made for me.

The grown up Naughty Boys didn’t care about any expectations of others…they did whatever they damn well pleased and looked out for Number One. I tried so damn hard to wear that ‘Bitch’ exterior; to look tough and uncaring, nothing could touch me. But it just wasn’t who I was. No matter how much I had those people around me, it never rubbed off.

Of course in a healthy world, those are NOT the people we want around us, and that’s not really who I ever wanted to be. I know now that I just wanted to be allowed to be my true self, and not worry that people would run away screaming if they saw that.

When we are told what to be as a young person–perfect, with nothing but happy emotions, always confident and sure of yourself–why wouldn’t we worry that if we are anything less, on any given day, that we will never be accepted??

I am thankful that at some point in my life, when I met my husband, I had matured enough to know what I really wanted. That I stopped trying to be who I wasn’t and therefore was ready to accept a man, not a boy, who welcomed a girl who wore her heart on her sleeve, was goofy and silly, and was and still is practically imperfect in every way.

Me and my Forever Not-Naughty Boy. That’s pretty much me.

Because that’s it, isn’t it? Sometimes we’re happy, sometimes we’re ridiculous, sometimes we’re angry and sad. That’s who we all are, unless we’re psychopaths. Much of this wisdom comes with age and experience, but it also comes from self-acceptance and the acceptance of others with their imperfect ways.

So. Today is my Ode to the Naughty Boy. As frustrating the real-life ones were to me, they taught me a lot about myself, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. And I’m just as thankful that I’m not hanging out on the Sunset Strip with them anymore. Kissing a boy that wears more lipstick than you do gets really messy.

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