Our patio has lavender around two of its sides, and when in flower there are always bumble bees buzzing all around it. Once I counted over forty of them, of at least four different types, on one plant. One bright, sunny morning a few weeks ago, I was having a coffee on the patio when a wasp came buzzing around me, and instantly I went in search of my ‘Executor’ – a tennis racquet-type device with a button on the handle which electrifies the strings.
After dispatching the wasp with a crisp forehand topspin (sending him to ‘hiven’), I sipped my coffee and started wondering: why am I so intolerant of wasps? I like bees a lot, and if I find any lying on the lawn in a stupor—where I suspect they’ve had one too many sips of nectar and are a bit drunk—I move them out of the way before I cut the grass. Wasps aren’t that dissimilar to bees, so why is it that I really dislike them, and why do I treat the two insects so differently?
Putting on my Freudian-head, I reason that maybe it’s because I’d been stung by wasps a few times as a kid. However, I’d also seen my brother get stung by a bee, and his sting had been worse than any of the ones I’d had. So I don’t think my preference is due to anything that happened in my past.
I suppose another reason maybe that when I’m sitting in the patio, bees just glide past on their way to the lavender, whereas wasps seem to want to bug the fuck out of me, just for the fun of it. The rational part of me says this must be the reason why I’m less tolerant with them, but deep down I know I’m already reaching for the ‘Executor’ way before they start to annoy me.
Taking this theory to quadrupeds, there’s a similar comparison in my attitude to cats and dogs. Again, I’m guilty of a preference. I much prefer dogs, but I honestly don’t know why. I can look at the most perfect specimen of a cat and feel no affection for it at all, whereas even a flea-bitten mongrel covered in mange can make me want to cuddle him. I know cats are beautiful animals, and obviously I would never contemplate using the ‘executor’ on them, but they just don’t have the same effect on me as dogs do. Applying Freudian analysis to this case may be more appropriate: when I was growing up, we had dogs as pets but never any cats. However, as a child I was bitten by dogs and scratched by cats.
Actually, cats versus dogs is an interesting case for me. The above preference only applies for domestic animals. When it comes to wildlife, the trend is reversed. Wild dogs (wolves, dingoes, hyenas, jackals) all leave me cold (although I do quite like foxes). However, I love all big cats. Lions, leopards, panthers, cheetahs, jaguars – I love them all. My favourite animal is the tiger – I think they’re the most beautiful, graceful, powerful animals on Earth. I know pet cats are the same shape—just smaller. So, is it a just case of the size...? I don't think so. I honestly don’t understand why domestic cats don’t ‘float my boat’ – but they just don’t.
Maybe it’s simply because I am constantly finding little piles of cat poo all over my lawn....
Okay - not ALL dogs are cute
The wasp/bee and cat/dog thing then got me thinking about my preferences in bipeds – or more accurately, women. It’s been pointed out more than once that most of the female characters in my stories are petite brunettes with brown eyes, and I am the first to admit that they’re the ones that I seem to prefer. Although it’s not necessarily just brunettes—I like black hair, too.
However, it’s not an exclusive thing—I’m not saying I don’t find blonde or red-headed women attractive. I do. And I also like eyes of all colours – blue and green are both striking. My wife’s eyes aren’t brown—they’re hazel (although she likes to think they’re green). But my 'favourite' eye-colour is probably dark brown.
Incidentally, I think one of the reasons I prefer dogs over cats is because of the ‘expression’ in their big, brown eyes.
Three sexy blondes...
Three red-hot red-heads...
Three dark-haired beauties....
So, in the same way that Rod Stewart likes blondes and Leroy Jethro Gibbs likes red-heads, I like petite dark-haired women. They’re my ‘type’. If I’m walking down the street or sitting in a bar - my eyes are drawn to any petite, dark-haired women within my line of sight. It’s not a conscious thing, it just happens.
Climbing into my Freudian-pants once more, I look back at my childhood. I’m the youngest of three children, with an older sister and brother. I can’t remember if any of my sister’s friends were petite dark-haired beauties, nor can I visualise any of my brother’s girlfriends that fit that description (and believe me, I’ve tried). So I don’t think I was influenced as a child.
Using the cat/dog reasoning doesn’t cast any light on my preference, either—I’d be happy to be bitten and scratched by blondes, red-heads AND brunettes.
So maybe there’s no explanation for why I prefer petite dark-haired women, but it means that the majority of my female characters will continue to be that way.
And obviously, they’ll all be wearing high-heels!