Calling the Wild

It wasn't so long ago that Red Riding Hood was terrified of wolves. Today, Red's got wolf posters on her wall and a stuffed wolf on her bed and donates to a Save the Wolves foundation. Pictures of wolves decorate everything from her checkbook covers to her computer screensaver.

And it's not just Red. Red's Mom has a dozen collector plates featuring wolves. Red's Dad has a wolf on his belt buckle and pocketknife handle, plus a wolf decal on his truck. And Red's younger brother has a wolf on his skateboard and plays for a high school basketball team called the Wolves.

How did the accomplice of evil and eater of grannies get such a radical image makeover?

Simple. Wolf envy.

Let's face it, we admire wolves for their beauty, their intelligence, their loyalty to their mates and their ability to work as a team. They're strong, powerful, tireless. They seem to embody freedom itself and when they sing, something in us responds with yearning. And besides all that, there's the cool factor. No other animal can traverse the jungles of pop culture so effortlessly. Put all those attributes together and it's an irresistible package.

And speaking of packages: Enter the Werewolf.

Usually portrayed as angst-ridden human turned uncontrollable killer in horror movies, the paranormal romance novel has shown us a new and different Wolf-man. He has all the qualities we admire about wild wolves. Tough. Smart. Handsome. Plus there's that whole mating for life thing, which seems to be leaking out of the human gene pool. Today's Werewolf is more powerful than ever, yet protective. Caring enough to carry Granny and all her groceries across the street. And in addition to the attributes he shares with wild wolves, there's one that's all his own.

He's drop-dead sexy.

Why? For much of the same reason we're drawn to the same wolves our ancestors feared. In our modern lives we are often out of touch with nature --- yet nature is not out of touch with us. Genetic memory is in our very cells and we have a psychic memory of forest and trail, a collective awareness of hunter and hunted (and we've been both), an instinctive response, primal and visceral, to the very wildness embodied in wolves --- and the danger. And we respond to the same in the Werewolf. We'd like to be a little less tame ourselves...

Nope, it's no surprise at all that Vampires have had to shove over and make room at the top of the romantic protagonist heap for the Werewolf. Excuse me while I get my red cape and goody basket...

Dani Harper
Your turn -- what do YOU think of the current popularity of the wolf -- and the werewolf?

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