It was like God read my mind in the present day, thought “what features would cause Dan to immediately dislike him?” and then went back around 20 years and created THAT EXACT DUDE and set him on a path to one day meet me. The features are as follows:
- Button-down blue-and-white vertically striped shirt, sleeves rolled up, nothing underneath, unbuttoned to halfway down the chest.
- Solid black bandana tied around his head (worn the same way you might see a cartoon gang member wearing one)
- One lone cigarette behind his right ear.
- We were going around the room introducing ourselves with our major and something relating to us and pop culture, and his was “My favorite author is Hemingway.”
Here is why those things bother me. Every part of his appearance is specially designed to make people think he’s tough and manly.
- The shirt is unbuttoned to show his chest hair, making sure that even though a good amount of the people around him have it, everyone knows he has it.
- As previously mentioned, the bandana is commonly associated with gangs, as well as athletes and people who are doing physical labor and need to keep their hair tied back. All these things are associated with either strength or violence.
- Think about the ideas behind having a cigarette behind your ear. If you had other cigarettes, you could assume you might keep them all together, in the pack. If you got it from someone else, I’d think you might smoke it right then (I don’t know the proper etiquette, but when there’s a 7-11 within sight of the class, I would assume it’s bad form to “borrow one for later”), and if you didn’t have time to smoke a cigarette, you probably wouldn’t have asked to borrow one in the first place. Now, I don’t pretend to know the circumstances behind the cigarette, it could have been his last one and he didn’t want to keep the box. If the other three aspects described were not present, I would not have given it a second thought; I actually would have assumed it was his last one and he didn’t have room for the box. However, the clear image he’s trying to project makes me feel like it’s safe to assume he was doing it on purpose.
- Finally, Hemingway. I appreciate Hemingway. He was a misogynist ass and his writing style is boring as hell, but I can understand why he might be present in a literature class. I can even understand why other people might like him. I’ve even enjoyed his works on occasion. But to not only declare him your favorite author, superior in his eyes to every other author he’s ever read, but to use that as your defining characteristic when introducing yourself to a new group of people? The type of person who, when trying to give off an impression of who they are and what they like, uses Hemingway as the template is not the type of person I see myself getting along with.
I’m sure he’s a great guy. I might even talk to him and find he’s super cool and we’ll end up awesome best friends. There’s always a chance of that. However, he made an incredibly bad first impression. Any one of these characteristics individually would be fine, possibly even charming, depending on the person. However, all four of them in one person observed simultaneously upon our first meeting was just unsettling for me.