Regarding the Love Triangle Bait and Switch

I’m not including any actual references to books here because it comes really close to being spoiler territory BUT I’ve been noticing in a lot of books lately something I’m going to start calling the “Love Triangle Bait and Switch.”

What is that, you might (fairly) ask?

Well, let me explain fully. What happens is this:

A book starts, let’s say with a female protagonist for pronoun consistency but really it could be a guy too, and she is all alone. Or she isn’t. Not the point.

Anyway, the Female Lead (the girl I mentioned before) meets/introduces a guy to readers. He might be her best friend or just this annoying guy who won’t leave her alone. Either way, he’s a constant for the Female Lead in some way. We don’t know it yet but this guy will end up being the Secondary Male Lead. This first guy we meet seems fine. He’s cute. Maybe a bit eccentric. He might be defined by one kind of basic character trait (nerdy, bad temper, conceited, anything really). But he seems fine and he grows on you, the reader.

Then Female Lead meets another guy. This is a bit more obvious than identifying the Secondary Male Lead, but that other guy she meets later? He’s going to be the Primary Male Lead. Sometimes it will be love at first sight. Sometimes the relationship will be normal and evolve over time. Sometimes it’s electric. There might be witty banter. Or tasers. There might be mysterious threats to stay away. There might be something else entirely.

Eventually it becomes obvious that Female Lead and Primary Male Lead are ultimately going to end up together. In that book if it’s a stand-alone. Over the arc of the story if it’s a series of some sort.

But where does that leave our intrepid Secondary Male Lead?

Sadly, he is now doomed.

He might die heroically.* He might become a vampire. He might become a super villain. He might just be evil. (Not literally evil because then he’d obviously be a super villain. Rather, his one character trait is amplified making him possessive, jealous, completely insane, etc. Kristin Cashore’s book(s) may or may not illustrate that.) Often some combination of these things happens.

Now the Love Triangle Bait and Switch is a fine plot device. Except that I’m sick of it. I’m tired of liking one character only to watch him become the (doomed) Secondary Male Lead. I’m tired of stories tricking me this way. It’s not necessarily bad or wrong. But I’d like a book where instead of creating this quasi-tension we have a legitimate love triangle with impossible choices instead of this weird imitation of a love triangle.**

I’m not sure why this annoys me so much except that perpetually preferring the (doomed) Secondary Male Lead gets old. The Secondary Male Lead is also, often, the more entertaining of the two being funnier, more interesting, or essentially better in some other way which makes the whole thing even sadder. I’m also starting to wonder why I always, always, always fall for this trick. To the point of being deeply saddened when despite my constantly hoping the Secondary Male Lead never gets his due.***

So, there you have it. The growing trend of the Love Triangle Bait and Switch explained in all of its glory.

*This happens in A Tale of Two Cities which is 151 years old so I  don’t think that counts as a spoiler. Know this Sydney Carton, I would have chosen you.

**Clockwork Angel: Excellent illustration of the true, impossible, love triangle.

***I’m looking at you, Puck (from The Iron King). I’ll always love you even if Meghan doesn’t.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I’ve written before about hair back in 2008 when I had short hair. Shortly after that post I started library school and decided I wanted a change so I let my hair grow out.

This past weekend I cut it again.

And now I’m going to use the extra bits to make hair jewelery.

Kidding. I actually have a creepy detached hair ponytail on my desk because I always, always donate my hair to Locks of Love when I cut it.* I’ve gone from a twelve inch mane to a pixie cut. And maybe for the first time ever, there was no shock or adjustment. I’m increasingly certain this is really the hair I was meant to have no matter how many pretty barrettes I buy.

A few years ago I was friends with a guy who had really long hair, like longer than mine in that picture. Then he decided to cut it all off and shave his head. It seemed insane since he clearly put a lot of effort into growing the hair–especially since it’s so much more of a concerted decision for a man to have long hair–so I asked him why he wanted to cut it. He told me the hair had negative energy and he wanted to get rid of it.

Part of me wishes we were still speaking because I want to tell him I get that now. More than I did then.**

In some ways cutting my hair was a sudden decision. Last Friday I was lying in bed with my hair getting tangled and I thought to myself, I could cut it. By Saturday night my mom had helped me cut it all off.*** But it was also the perfect time; I needed a change, the year is almost over and it’s time to start fresh.

It sounds silly but my truest vision/perception of myself always has short hair. I was enjoying the long hair, but I am loving the short hair. It’s wash and go. It’s lighter (my hair is really thick and heavy). I can wear hats without worrying about fitting my hairstyle under it.

I just feel prettier with it and more “rock and roll” if anyone even knows what I mean by that.

I used to have goals with long hair. Like I’d let it grow and say, I want it to be really long. Or I’m going to braid it. This last time I worked at wearing my hair down more often. I’m starting to think hair isn’t really something that should require  specific goals to sustain. (Although I am going to try to mix up things with my very short hair with little barrettes and stuff this time around.) I was glad to graduate from library school with long hair (because I looked ridiculous in that mortar cap with short hair as an undergrad) but I think the short hair is really the right choice for me.

And it’s silly, but with so much flux all around, it’s nice to at least have my perfect hairstyle figured out.****

*Locks of Love accepts donated hair to make wigs for children who have lost their hair while undergoing chemo. It’s a great cause that literally involves doing nothing. Hair donation also plays a big part in my “hair cycle” because I never cut it before it’s long enough to donate (ten inches) and I tend to let it grow with the expectation that I will eventually cut it.

**I actually had long hair when I knew this guy. And decided to cut my hair shortly after. He wasn’t amused telling me that I shouldn’t cut my hair since girls should have long hair. So part of me isn’t that sorry or surprised that we grew apart.

***Fun Fact: My mom always cuts my hair. With this. No, seriously.

****Today was  the first day I went to work with my new haircut. And the first time I’ve cut my hair at the same shop since I’ve started working with the public. It was funny because a lot of patrons (some of whom I don’t really know that well) noticed my haircut and were complimenting me on it. One said it brought out my eyes and that I had great hair. Others gave me searching looks before finally asking if I had cut my hair and saying it looked nice upon receiving confirmation.