I wrote before about the allure of innocence, how something pure and honest has its own allure as opposed to aloof and brooding (which obviously has its own allure, too). Many people have written me about how they were surprised and pleased to find out that Indelible is a book of Ink's "firsts" as opposed to Joy's, a turn-around from most YA books and that they love Ink all the more for it. This makes me happy. I *like* that story--one where the guy gets to feel things and not be put down about it because it feels real. Guys feel. They fall in love and freak out and have their hearts broken and rage at the world, which is tough to do if you're also supposed to be aloof, all-knowing and oh-too-cool. So I think this is the sort of story that needs to be told and is, in fact, a treasured trope although moreso in movies than in books. (One key exception is Mercedes Lackey's series featuring Vanyel Ashkevron, but I digress.) I scoured my brain for examples of what I mean and here were some classics that popped to mind:
In Say Anything, Lloyd was in love with Diane. That was it. Nothing else mattered and he wasn't too scared to say it, to admit his fears ("I want to get hurt!") and put it all out there: to ask her out, to screw up, to want to make it better, to drop everything and commit. He was terrified and yet, at his core, he was the strongest character out of all of them. It had one of those present-to-feeling moments I've ever seen, when a guy is instantly in touch with being overwhelmed:
Diane: "Are you shaking?"
Diane: "You're shaking."
Lloyd: "I don't think so."
Diane: "You're cold."
Lloyd: "I don't think I am."
Diane: "Then why are you shaking?"
Lloyd: "I don't know. I think I'm happy."
That exhilarating spark of something new and precious that strikes like a hammer to the chest is the moment that I think of as far more "sexy" than "sweet." Similarly, Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack Dawson of Titanic was clearly more experienced and confident in the ways of the world than elite debutante, Rose, it was also clear that as soon as he met her, you could have--to borrow an old-fashioned phrase--"knocked him over with a feather." He was totally, utterly, completely head-over-heels smitten. (And that sweaty hand print scene in the car reminded me oh so much of the same one in Say Anything.) While movies like Chasing Amy, Sleepless In Seattle and You've Got Mail are all great examples of guys being struck by their feelings with that same jaw-dropping awe, these were mature men with a handle on life. Movies like cult-classic Starman starring Jeff Bridges as an alien stranded on Earth in an ex-husband's body, Meet Joe Black starring Brad Pitt as Death in the body of a convenient smooth-talking jaywalker, and Big starring Tom Hanks as a kid trapped in his grown-up self captured more the sense of grown men with child-like perceptions drinking in the world, fresh and wide-eyed with wonder. That is what made them irresistible to the women in their stories, refreshingly honest and appreciative of the little things like trampolines and apple pie.
...which makes me think of the TV show Pushing Daisies with Lee Pace, the pie-maker, and those big brown eyes as he inhaled the second-chance to dare to bring back his first love, Chuck. The same doeful expression has been shared by small screen "innocent heroes" such as Fred Savage's Kevin Arnold experiencing first love in Wonder Years or real-life brother Ben Savage's Corey Matthews doing same with love-of-a-lifetime Topanga in Boy Meets World (or even when he guest-starred in Party of Five who gave us heartthrob Matthew Fox, most recently of LOST and World War Z...which brings us back to folks like Brad Pitt).
All of which is to say that I think a guy's "firsts" can be innocent, tender and pretty darn hot!
Be one of the first to check out Ink and Joy at a bookstore or e-reader nearest you! ;-)