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Please welcome today, A. Morell. Most of us don’t like to consider our weaknesses, but it’s good to, once in a while. Let’s see what A has to say about them, eh?

Weaknesses and Guilty Pleasures

Thanks for hosting me today, Grace. I had intended to explore vices on this tour stop, but it’s much more fun to poke at weaknesses and guilty pleasures than to examine and question one’s morality (or lack thereof). My wine needs more time to chill anyway.

On to the subject, I do think people tend to use these labels interchangeably, myself included. But in trying to sort them out recently, I found there’s a subtle but fundamental difference between them.

I used a list since they always help keep me organized. Mine started out something like this:

Weaknesses:

  • Spiders/bugs
  • Zombies
  • My cat
  • Heat

Guilty Pleasures:

  • Dessert
  • Shopping
  • Mindless television
  • Shoes

The key difference, I think, is that weaknesses are things you can’t say no to or fight, whereas guilty pleasures are things you don’t want to say no to or fight. Weaknesses can be exploited. No one’s going to get very far holding my box of chocolates hostage—though I will be mad—but threatening me with a tarantula will get me to do whatever you want. (Why am I putting this information out there?)

Knowing a person’s guilty pleasures is good for figuring out who you want to go shopping with or which movies your friends might be willing to pay $12 to see in theaters, but knowing a person’s weaknesses is a much more powerful thing. It shows aspects of their character they might not otherwise display. I think that’s why roughly three days after I’ve created a new character, every time, I get to thinking about what would make them cry.

I guess it does sound a little mean, and I do consider other things too—what makes them angry, what they wouldn’t be able to forgive. But crying is the first one, always. Not to say that crying is a weakness, since I definitely think it’s not, but it’s a display of where our hearts lie. Some people—some characters—do believe crying is a weakness or a show of it, and so they’ll do whatever they can to avoid it. That in itself is a weakness in my mind, and is indeed very telling of their character.

“Sparks” is the story of two very strong (and strongly clashing) personalities, told from the view of Mark Nanami. As the son of a London gang leader, one would think he was raised to surpass weaknesses, to never leave himself open to attack. Of course that’s not the case at all, and in fact we find out quickly that his number one weakness is his family. Though he doles out just as much as he suffers over the course of a reluctant blind date, unwittingly he finds some shred of commonality between himself and his date, Ryo:

They broke from their hushed arguing, sipping from their respective coffee cups. Mark looked up ahead of them at the other couple and held back a sigh. Justin at least looked happy, and he had to admit Ryo’s friend Chris was awfully starry-eyed. It was irritatingly cute.

Meanwhile, he and Ryo had been trading barbs and kicks under the table all night. He might have been happy for his brother for finally finding someone he liked, but his shins sure hated Justin right now.

“You do know I’ll kill you and your brother if he hurts Chris, right?” Ryo said suddenly, evidently having been watching the other two as well.

Mark rolled his eyes. It was strictly forbidden to mention the family business to outsiders if they weren’t about to be welcomed into the fold, so he couldn’t quite fault Ryo for thinking the threat would have any sort of impact on him. He certainly wasn’t about to tell Ryo that he and his brother were sons of the most prominent gangster in Greater London, or that the Nanami family ran every inch of these streets for miles. Ryo only had to know they did anything and everything for each other—which should have been obvious by now, seeing as he’d agreed to this disastrous date in the first place.

Mark doesn’t know it yet, but he starts to see something in Ryo that he understands. It’s only the faintest hint of what the rest of the night has in store for them, one that neither of them will forget anytime soon.

There is definitely a lot more of the Nanami family to come. Maybe one day we’ll get to explore what makes Mark cry, but for now we’ll just get to see what makes him tick—and what turns him on. But we can all learn something from his ordeal: Own your pleasures and you’ll get the most out of whatever life throws your way.

Enjoy.

-A.

Check out “Sparks” and other stories in Juicy Bits, available now also in paperback!
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