Who’s the alpha-ist of them all?
by Mary Margret Daughtride
I love alpha heroes. Love ’em. Even the ones who make me so mad I want to give them a good, hard thump.
Unfortunately, my heroine of SEALed With a Promise, Emmi Caddington, PhD, has very little use for alpha males. She calls them jocks.
She’s a lowly biology instructor who has to teach the science for non-majors elective, Understanding Ecology. Even though most of her students aren’t there by choice, she tires hard to make it interesting and relevant.
But those jocks. Secure that their place in the universe has guaranteed them the top of the heap, they shove their well-muscled bodies through the classroom door, talking in too-loud voices. They’re oblivious to how they violate other students’ space.They’re not being deliberately rude. They think all the space is theirs – or at least that they get first pick.
First pick of all the girls too. To their way of thinking, a woman who isn’t beautiful is beneath contempt. She’s watched their lips curl with disdain for her plainness and heard the names they call her – while making lewd speculations about her.
They think, having put themselves out to show up, she should be honored that they have added to the luster of her class by attending. And she should show her appreciation by giving them a grade good enough to keep them playing_ whatever sport is underwriting their education.
Oh yes, she’s familiar with jocks.
True, Chief Petty Officer Caleb Dulaude isn’t a college athlete, he’s a member of a military unit with an animal name. But really. Miami Dolphins, Navy SEALs – what’s the difference? She knows the type. All of a sudden he’s turned on the charm? Hah! She’s learned the best way to deal with them is to let them know she’s in charge, and never give them an inch.
I think Emmie is a little harsh in her judgment, but her experience is limited – she’s basing her opinion of alphas on eighteen to twenty-four-year-olds.
But there’s no doubt that, despite being born to win, an alpha male has some serious shortcomings. An alpha’s greatest strength is his rock-steady self-assurance. Fundamentally believing only his opinion matters can also be his greatest weakness. Alphas can end up emotionally marooned, never realizing that they are alone in their world until it’s too late.
Emmie’s not completely wrong. SEALs are alpha males with remarkable athletic ability. What Emmie hasn’t reckoned with is that a jock with SEAL training becomes something else.
SEAL training is the ultimate school of hard knocks. Recruits are stripped of any belief that they are cock of the walk, and the world is their oyster. Everyday is hard, and there are no starts. SEAL training is so harsh partly because while ratcheting alpha traits like competitiveness and aggressiveness to the nth degree, the recruit is also being forced to learn to cooperate. Cooperation is not natural to an alpha and it doesn’t come easy.
SEALs must work together, so their training pounds in the notion that all must pay the price for anyone’s failure. Any carelessness or inattention that causes another’s injury is severely punished. They must learn to be aware of the other men and to care for their well-being as they do their own.
They wouldn’t put it this way but I’m going to: They’re not allowed to kill each other; their nature won’t let them submit; so there’s nothing left to do but love each other.
A SEAL can some on as the most alpha guy you ever saw. Every natural alpha quality has been honed to the nth degree and the biggest alpha weakness has been somewhat neutralized. He has become a sort of super-alpha.
He is smart. He is driven to accomplish his objective and nothing will stop him. He has sublime self-assurance, and he doesn’t think “the rules” apply to him. He can be extremely irritating – which, of course, he doesn’t care if he is. But he’s also able to listen. He can be tender, caring and sensitive.
That’s Caleb, all right. It’s true Emmie might never have appeared on Caleb’s radar if he hadn’t seen a way the extremely well-connected academic could help him get inside the perimeter of Senator Teague Calhoun – with whom Caleb has an old score to settle.
But he’s not planning to do her any harm. To his way of thinking, he’ll probably do her some good. No woman who dresses as she does is likely to be getting much masculine attention. She is on his radar now, and that means he responsible for her.
Emmie thinks she understands the kind of man he is. There’s only one problem. He keeps taking care of her. And listening to her. And treating her with respect. And making her life easier. To her, it’s all very confusing.
There are all kinds of alphas. Which ones make you mad? Which ones are irresistible to you?