I would like to meet Molly Harper and perhaps pay a visit to Half Moon Hollow, KY. Molly (I think she’d be OK if I called her that) clearly understands human nature. Of the female variety specifically. Molly understands and writes about difficult mothers who undermine the self esteem of their daughters (definitely a subject for another post–or ten). And she clearly gets the struggle many of us have with acting on our better judgment and resisting the temptations of things we are well aware are no good for us.
Today I’m reading The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires. This book is as funny and accurately observed as all of Harper’s other books, including the Jane Jameson series and the Naked Werewolf series. This novel focuses on Iris, daytime concierge to the vampire inhabitants of sleepy Half Moon Hollow. I’m enjoying it immensely. But, as is the case with so many of my “lighthearted” paranormal fantasy novels, there are a number of deeper truths that are reflected in the foam at the top of this particular cappuccino.
In one fun scene, there is reference to the “bad decision” dress. When one wears it, one cannot be held responsible for the bad decisions that result. In fantasy novels, that is not necessarily a bad thing, as the consequences of said bad decisions never seem to carry much heft. In real life, however, bad decisions can haunt us forever, or at least long enough for us to experience real remorse (or mortification, if you’ve had a misspent youth, but that’s a subject for another post!).
In Molly Harper’s books, many of the bad decisions of her protagonists involve succumbing to the temptations of seductive vampires and werewolves. Truthfully, I can see where this could reside firmly in the “against my better judgment but my hormones clearly have the upper hand” folder of my mental file cabinet. And, somehow, these decisions that blithely ignore the little voice in the back of our heads always seems to turn out well for our main characters in these fantasy novels, and are usually part of the path that leads to the inevitable (and satisfying) HEA.
In practice, sadly, this has not proved to be my experience. My dating history reflects this unfortunate reality, until, of course, I met my beloved husband, who has no resemblance at all to the emotionally unavailable bad boys I used to date. But going against our better judgment doesn’t usually work out in other areas, either. Such as when I tell my children that they can go to an unchaperoned party because “don’t you trust us, Mom?” and nothing good comes to pass. Or when I made an impulse purchase because the sales lady assured me that I didn’t look like an aging slut in that non-refundable dress and my husband assumes I’ve decided to slap a mattress on my back to try to make a few extra bucks.
There’s a reason we have judgment, better and otherwise. Our judgment is a gift we nurture over time. If we’re lucky–and good– our judgment is enhanced with the wisdom of experience and becomes tempered with age and perspective. If we are neither lucky nor good, we just get older, but not smarter. I’m sure we all know lots of people like that. I’m sure some of us are people like that.
So if our judgment is an attribute that gains value over time, why would we choose to ignore it? Why would we indulge ourselves in the three most dangerous words of the English language and stifle our better judgment “just this once?” Because, like so many aspects of life, it is easier to indulge our bad judgment in many cases than it is to stand our ground and go with our higher natures from whence our better judgment is born.
Which bring us back to doing the hard thing, which is what life requires of us if we want to live well. And making bad decisions, whether we’re wearing a particular dress or not, does not get us where we want to be. So, when that little voice tells you, “he’s no good” or “your ass looks like cottage cheese in those white pants,” we should listen. Or that little voice may stop talking to us, in which case the roar of temptation will surely blow out an eardrum and who knows what kind of trouble we’ll get into. Just ask Molly, and she’ll tell you all about it.