I had a disturbing conversation with my mother the other day, during which she talked dreamily about a man who was not my father.
"Oh, he's so handsome," she cooed. "He's very smart. He's brilliant, in fact. And talented. And he's funny. And he's mean. He's very, very mean. But he has so many redeeming qualities that some people just don't see."
She was, of course, talking about Dr. Gregory House of the television show, House M.D. Let's please not mistake him for Hugh Laurie, who I assume is a kind, wonderful person. He has featured in such films as Stewart Little, Stewart Little II and soon, Stewart Little III. Sure he was a bad guy in 101 Dalmatians, but I'm sure that his role as Poirot in Spice World redeemed him. On second thought, I've never seen Spice World and never plan to, but I can only imagine.
As any good daughter would do, I started to investigate this man who my mother had feelings for. I rented the first disc of the first season of House. I knew that I'd like it right away---I'd seen a couple of episodes last year and had always planned on fitting a little House into my schedule, but something always came up on Tuesday nights. Finally, this weekend, between homework assignments, studying, and final projects, I made an appointment with Dr. House. Or, to be more precise, eight appointments.
What I have found is disturbing. I think, like so many other women out there, I am falling in love with House. House: the big, fat jerk. And I'm beginning to realize that when the nice guys whine about women always wanting the bad boys, never wanting the nice guys, they may just have a point.
What is wrong with women that makes us all love a man like House? I propose the following:
A. Good looks.
It is absolutely indisputable that women love only the good looking jerks. Believe me, if Willem Dafoe or Steve Buscemi had been cast as Dr. House, the season would have failed after one episode. No woman wants an ugly jerk. The handsome jerk must also have a rugged look as opposed to a smarmy look. Dr. House's unshavenness contributes to this look of ruggedness.
The jerk that women love is always proud. And he always has a lot to be proud of. His rugged good looks for one. His intelligence for two. The jerks that women really fall in love with always must have incredible intelligence. Much of the time, he is also proud of his money, which women also like. I may point out here that Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice is the stereotypical proud jerk. And women love him. (Also note that he has facial hair.)
This is what separates the jerk that women hate from the jerk that women love. The jerk that women love always has a weakness. Most of the time, his weakness is being misunderstood by other people. He just doesn't communicate well with people. People don't understand his troubled past. People don't understand his tortured soul. In the case of Dr. House, they gave the poor man a cane of all things, and a pain killer addiction, which only serve to increase women's sympathy towards him. Not only do we feel that we can understand him although no one else does, but we also have that extra mothering instinct take over as we long to cater to his every crippled need.
This one is the key. How does a jerk win women? He treats all other people like crap, but he treats one woman slightly better than crap. He confides in this one woman---but only very seldomly---and she is seduced by his sensitive side that is almost always hidden. She feels that she, above all other human beings, knows the real him. Sure, it is sad that the him that other people see is a big, fat jerk. The him that she sees---that real him---is a wonderful, but tortured soul. In the case of House, we women are allowed to see the real him. We see the camera linger on him for a few seconds after he's said something particularly biting to a friend. We see the look on his face that indicates he knows he's gone too far. He is confiding in us with his body language. We are (censored for Brother 2---highlight area if you want to read it)alone with him in the room when, without family or friends, he plays Happy Birthday to himself on the piano. He is confiding in us!
E. Good Quality/ies
Each jerk has at least one redeeming quality. The problem is, this only redeems him to the one exclusive person. All other people only get the jerk and never see any of the redeeming qualities.
So there it is. A summary of why women love jerks. I have to say, I quasi-dated someone a lot like House once. Well, like House but less good looking, less crippled, and less smart. But he was almost House's equal in the jerk department. To my mother's credit, she steered me far away from him. To Nemesis's credit (I have seen her allude to the allure of Hugh Laurie), she also steered me away from him. So women, I can tolerate (even enjoy) an on-screen jerk boyfriend. But in reality, let's all try to choose the snotty-nosed nice guy whiners, okay?