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It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion,
Alpha Male Part 1
It never ceases to amaze me to see how far and wide my writing/works are used. What came as a huge surprise was when I discovered how much of a resource I was to writers, actors and others in the entertainment industry. Okay I can accept action adventures, thrillers, mysteries etc., it would seem my information is tailored for those creating believable characters in those genres.
But what floored me was the number of romance writers who use my work as resources. The reason given was 'you've lived the life of our characters'
Well... okay... I guess I can see how that would work.
However, it doesn't matter what the genre is, writing is hard work. Being as I know how difficult the business of writing can be, I started a blog for struggling writers. The following posts are from my MySpace Blog about how to write convincingly about strong men.
Back in 1989 I was the first to write about Alpha and Beta behavior in a street survival context. Well, just because it came out in my first book Cheap Shots, Ambushes And Other Lessons, doesn’t mean that was the first time I thought about the concept. In fact, I’d come up with the explanation a few years earlier when my then-girlfriend had nearly put me into a situation where I would have to bust more than just a few heads. In fact, the odds were good I'd have to kill someone in order to save our hides.
Back in the mid 80’s Hollywood Blvd was a blend of theatres, interesting eats, cheap tourist knick-knacks shops, stores pandering to alternative lifestyles and bars (that tourists were well advised to not go into). In short, the Boulevard was just the sort of place that would appeal to a young urbanite like myself.
You should also know there was the daytime Hollywood Blvd and the nighttime version. Daytime belonged to the tourists and businessmen, night belonged to us. And ’us’ weren’t necessarily nice people.
The simple truth is that I was no longer one of the street people that ran ’The Boulevard’ -- about five years had passed since I was a regular face on biker’s corner (Las Palmas and Hollywood). I had graduated from being a streetrat to being a serious piece of real estate.
Yet, I was gainfully employed and I had ... for the lack of a better word ... a girlfriend.
There’s a reason I hesitate to use that term. Over the years I have tried to explain to people a real life woman that nobody could write about -- because the character would be unbelievable. I don’t have to read erotica, horror, psychological thrillers, the DSM IV, gonzo journalism or watch soap operas AND ’Fatal Attraction,’ -- because she all of those things rolled into one psychotic bundle. She had a body, a walk and an aura of sexuality that would make women just automatically throw a backfist without looking because they knew their husbands were gawking.
At the same time she could turning into a destructive whirlwind of a harridan that would have people diving for cover. And that isn’t hyperbole. While she never was dumb enough to try to physically attack me, for the record, picking shattered glass out of your cheek isn’t fun. While she didn’t exactly throw it AT me, that glass shattered a mite too close to my face. To say that she lacked impulse control is like saying the Titanic sprung a small leak and that brings us to what happened.
This woman is the source of my term: Poisonous Fuck Bunny (PFB). The kind of woman that every young man's 'wild uncle' has a duty to take the youngster aside one day and explain there are certain kinds of women he should run screaming from. In short, no matter how wild she is sexually, PFBs have snakes in their brains and they are pure poison.
Anywho, so there I was with my loose cannon on deck girlfriend. We’d decided to go up, have dinner and catch a movie on Hollywood Blvd. (MeMe’s is gone now, but I’ll always remember my first gyros). We were about a 1/2 mile away from the theatre when I suddenly realized that the show time and a 1/2 mile walk did not a good combo make. I told her we’d have to hustle to get there ... And that is when that ol’ lack of impulse control came up.
She whirled and literally charged through the crowd -- in a straight line. At this time I’d like to remind you that it wasn’t the daylight crowd. This was the nightcrew and the ’boys’ were out in force. I watched in horror as she blew straight through a group of seriously not nice dudes. They reeled back in shock and confusion. Before they could regain their composure I can hot-footin’ after her -- right through their midst's. As I was moving hard to catch up with my sweet beloved I looked back over my shoulders and saw a look I knew all to well ... predators deciding whether or not to go to work.
The combination of the fact that I was obviously armed and my ’I know she’s wrong, but you really want to let this one go’ expression convinced them that maybe a few more minutes off the clock wasn’t a bad idea. I turned my attention back forward and found myself facing a cliche street pimp and the guy who he had been trying to transact business with. They too seemed slightly preturbed. And guess what? They also gave me the hard look of those deciding to open a can of whup-ass.
I didn’t have time for this, I just growled and looked really cranky as I blasted past them. (Yes, I used to growl when I was ready to go to work ... remember, you’re talking to a guy named Animal. Someone who really did warrant that name). Figuring a furry, snarling -- and armed -- maniac was a little beyond their paygrade they too opted to let the insult slide.
I put on a burst of speed and had nearly caught up with her when she bulled through still a third group of guys. While I never got a chance to specifically identify what their ethnic background was by their coloring and accents I deduced that it wasn’t a place that found an aggressive woman in public an acceptable idea.
And once again, guess who was getting the hard looks? See along with that cultural bias about how women should behave in public, also comes the assumption that it’s the male who is responsible for a woman’s bad behavior. So although she had just insulted them, they’d be wanting to discuss the insult with me.
I basically morphed into werewolf mode -- before I had just been pissed, now I was actually mad. Although I have never seen myself mad, I’ve seen the reaction of those around me when I was mad. And true to form, some very macho and dangerous guys made a space for me to pass.
I finally broke into a short dash and grabbed her by the shoulder and spun her around to face me. KNOCK IT OFF! I snarled. Giving our ethnic audience a "I’m handling this so you don’t have to" look, I grabbed her by the arm and dragged her towards the theatre.
As we walked side by side for a short distance I began to discuss her behavior under my breath: "We’re on the *%^$%!!! Boulevard! IF we &^%$*!!! need to cut through the *&&^^%$!! crowd, you *&^%$^&$!! follow me!!!! Now get behind me and don’t say a *&^%$!! word!"
With that I started walking faster and weaving through the crowd. She had a choice, follow or stand there. Despite passing several more groups of fellow suave young urban males, there were no more near incidents. They looked saw me, saw her following and went back to their business.
Now upon reading this you might think that I’m a ’women should be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen’ type. Not at all, I’m a Scot. We negotiate with our women ... and we ain’t afraid to do it in public neither. In a relationship, the person best qualified for the particular job took charge on that issue. Furthermore both sides of my family were ruled by matriarchs.
So why did I suddenly become a macho man, demanding my woman walk behind me?
Funny you should ask that because later that evening I
had some ’splaining to do. Simply stated, NO matter what our
relationship was like elsewhere, ON the Boulevard -- in
order for both of us to get out of there alive -- I had to
show I was 'an alpha.' The message sent to the predators was
See among the night crew that prowled the Blvd there were predators -- who no matter how much of a handful she was -- they’d take a run at her.
In their little pea brains it was a simple equation, that was one hell of a woman, and they’d not hesitate to try take her. And if she objected, they’d take her by force. What was keeping her safe among the predators was the fact that they looked at me and figured that they could cut me off at the knees and call me a tripod. I numbered among those who you didn’t mess with without good reason.
However, what she had done by first moving ahead of me -- is in their eyes -- lessened my status.
Remember the caliber of people who prowl the Boulevard. Would I have cared if she’d behaved like this in Santa Monica or Westwood ? ... Nope. Because there civilized rules applied -- but we were where the wild things play. And among the wild things, an alpha male doesn’t try to keep up with women.
He especially doesn’t let the woman take point to quickly move through a crowd. Those two things lost me major Alpha points. Because it made it look like I didn’t know how things were done in those circles.
It also made it a whole lot harder for me to impress upon them that they shouldn’t rip our lungs out. (That is why I had to amp up to werewolf mode instead of just my normal, ’you don’t want a piece of this’ look).
The final issue is the insult she offered them by blowing through their midst's instead of weaving through the crowd.
If you watch truly dangerous people (who are not on the same team) in the same area you will see a complex pattern of movement respecting each others space and careful guarded movement so as to not trigger an unwanted shoot out by moving too fast.
That is one of the standards of respect that dangerous people expect of each other. What she had done by blowing directly through the middle of them was demonstrate contempt and dismissed THEIR alpha status. In front of witnesses, she had treated them like betas. And that was unacceptable.
In trying to explain to her why I had done what I done, I grasped upon the Alpha/Beta explanation. An explanation that will help you understand your characters and make them more realistic.