4 Bizarrely Specific Stereotypes You Can't Help But Notice
I don't really think stereotyping is a good thing. Negative stereotyping leads to racism and all that, and I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I think that racism is bad, and that we shouldn't have it. But that's me, I guess.
That said, I have noticed several consistent stereotypes that are completely unrelated to race. Most of them aren't even negative; they're just weird consistencies that baffle me. Consistencies like ...
Women Believe in Ghosts
I don't know everyone in the world, but 100 percent of the people I've met in my life who have admitted to a fear of ghosts have been women (I've mentioned this before). Whenever I've been told, "No, seriously, I'm not, like, a crazy person or anything, but I swear there's a ghost or a spirit in my new apartment," it's always been followed by "I am a woman." Or, you know, it would be, if people regularly announced their gender in the middle of a conversation.
"Did you catch the premier of Smash? I have a vagina."
It's crazy, because having an irrational fear isn't specific to any one gender. I know an otherwise completely rational woman who hates frogs because she's afraid they all want to jump into her mouth, and I know an otherwise completely rational man who is terrified that old women want to give him home-cooked food. Everyone is afraid of something they have no reason to be afraid of (I myself live every day knowing that, at any minute, my toilet will explode without warning or provocation, and never stop). When it comes to the fear of ghosts, however, that's all women all day.
"But what if this soup is haunted!?"
I want to be clear that I'm not bringing this up as a subtle way of insulting the intelligence of women. I'm not saying that more women than men believe in ghosts because they're dumber, because I'm much dumber than women, and I don't believe in ghosts. I have no idea why this trend exists. I thought it was something bizarre that only I was noticing, but according to a 2009 CBS News poll, 56 percent of women believe in ghosts, while only 38 percent of men do, and women are twice as likely as men to say that they've actually seen one.
My Best Guess:
I actually have several competing theories on this one. Maybe women are just encouraged early in life to be more open to spiritual things, while men are encouraged early in life to be more focused on practical things (it's why my girlfriend in kindergarten dressed up as a fairy for Halloween and I dressed up as a ninja). Or maybe women convince themselves to believe in ghosts so they can cast themselves as Demi Moore in the Ghost movie that they hope will happen in their lives. Or maybe ghosts are real, but they only stalk women, because they're perverts.
"Boooooo ... oobs."
That's probably it.
The More Stories You Have That Start With "I Was Hanging Out With My Cousins," the Trashier You Probably Are
It was actually a buddy of mine who first came up with this theory, and I was shocked by how immediately I agreed with it, and how consistently I'd recognized the trend in life. I grew up in an area that always seemed to teeter between middle and lower-middle class. As is the case with most neighborhoods like that, the bordering towns and areas were upper class and slightly wealthier on one side and distinctly lower class and much shittier on the other. And I noticed without exception that, if someone started most of their anecdotes with "My cousins and I" or "I was hangin' out with my cousins" or "Down at the shack where my financially unfortunate cousins live," you could tell instantly whether they came from the wealthier neighborhood or the poorer neighborhood (especially that third one).
I will never know why this is.
I have a bunch of cousins, and I get along with them great, but I have very few stories that start with "I was partying with my cousins when ..." and neither do most of my friends.
My Best Guess:
I know a big stereotype regarding white trashy rednecks is that they're all having sex with their own cousins and siblings, but I don't know if that's related in any way. Honestly, I have no idea on this one. I don't even know if it's a common observation, because there's no way to Google it.
The Amount of Awards Shows You Watch Is Directly Related to the Amount of Friends You Don't Have
Did you know that there are other televised awards shows beyond the Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and Golden Globes? Did you know that some awards shows are aired not on one of the major networks, but on channels like TNT and Spike? You didn't? Oh. Well, kudos on all of the friends you probably have.
It's true. If you watched a ton of awards shows one year -- not in a party, and not in an ironic way (whatever that means) -- you most likely spent a lot of time alone. I know this because for the first year I lived in Los Angeles, I didn't have any friends, and you better believe that I watched the shit out of every single awards show.
Can you pick a BET award out of a lineup? Because I fucking can.
My Best Guess:
A combination of loneliness and a desire to enter into conversations with strangers brings this on. As someone who was friendless and new in town, I'd watch anything that seemed like it might be an "event" show -- something that people would be talking about the next day. I'd arm myself with information so when I heard someone mention the show, I could say, "I'm sorry, I couldn't help but overhear you, and I disagree: I thought it was hilarious when Bret Michaels bashed his head in the opening number of the Tony Awards. Do you want to be friends with me?"
Eventually I learned that this was a bad strategy, because most people don't watch awards shows (especially not the Country Music Awards), because most people have friends. So whenever I tried bringing up the previous night's show in an attempt to create a friend-building water-cooler moment, my knowledge of obscure and pointless awards shows made me look even weirder.
"You didn't watch the SAG awards?"
The More You Talk About the Book You're Writing, The Less You've Written
If someone tells you that they're writing a book (even and especially if you didn't ask), ask them a lot of questions. They'll have a lot of answers for you. Answers about the plot, a few characters, maybe even some sample dialogue. Ask them a few more questions, and get really specific when you do. When you get through with all of the "idea" questions, ask them how many pages it is so far, or how they've found time to write it. I guarantee you that in your lengthy conversation about this random person's book, eventually you'll hear something that sounds sort of like, "Well, I don't actually have, like, chapters or anything yet. I mostly just have notes. I mean, the book is written, it's just in my head. But if you're asking to see a paragraph of it, then no, very much no."
"I've got an outline, though. What's that? Oh, yes, it's also just in my head."
I'm sure you know people like that. They've got their screenplay or novel or pilot that they're "working on," but really they just want to tell someone about it, and they think that's the same thing as writing. Meanwhile, I guarantee you that you've got a friend or two who actually are writing a book or graphic novel, and they just haven't mentioned it.
Robert Brockway's the perfect example. He's a coworker of mine. We have lunch together sometimes. He comes to my fancy parties. He sits literally six feet away from me. He started self-publishing an e-book a few days ago and last week was the first time I'd ever heard about it. He wrote an entire novel, built a website for it and stayed quiet about the whole thing. I see him almost every day! How did he do that?! Meanwhile, random strangers have spoken 50,000 words to me about a book for which none have been written.
My Best Guess:
Writing books is really hard. Talking about them is so, so easy (fun, too!).
Also, that's a move that dumb, lazy people use to trick themselves. I know because I've been a dumb, lazy person in the past (I've whittled it down to just dumb now). Whenever I wanted to write a book or play or sketch, I would convince myself that talking about it would motivate me to do it. If I just tell my friend all about the awesome movie I'm going to write, I'll finally have an excuse to write it, because he'll be waiting for it. Yes! But that's just a stall, I was just deluding myself.
Also, and I can't stress this enough, not writing is so much easier than writing.
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked.com's Senior Writer (ladies), and he had a fifth entry planned but ditched it because, yo, not-writing is way easy (other lazy people).
For more from Dan, check out 5 Terrible Situations for the Socially Awkward Man and Hey, Let's Fix The Internet.