(Non)Guilty by Association

In the past, I used to try to think hard about things to write about and certain topics in which to divulge. Recently, I’ve been all about not forcing the issue and letting ideas flow to me naturally through the course of life. Some things just can not be forced, and this post is one of them. Actually, it’s comprised of characteristics collected over many months — and in some cases many years — which have stuck in my psyche and helped me remember the persona others possess.

I am, of course, speaking of individual qualities which help people remember one person from the next.

For example, think back to high school. Not to get too melodramatic or “Breakfast Club” on you, but there is always the bitch you encounter in that period between junior high and college. Like clockwork, these diva females think they are better than everyone else and have all the answers. It reminds me of Kim from the too-short TV series Freaks and Geeks, but before she became more friendly and started doing half-decent things for other people. These dreadful girls are not stereotypes but real examples of the type of character you are bound to encounter over time in that type of setting.

Here’s another one: The guy who shows up to the gym in a wifebeater, big muscles and all, really tan, and walks like he hasn’t taken a shit in two weeks. He heads over to the benches and stacks 50-pound weights upon 50-pound weights on the bar, then looks around to make sure others are noticing just how powerful this guy is and how he could break you in half. Sadly for Mr. Universe, people are not intimidated but annoyed, patiently waiting for ‘roids to finish his sets and get the hell out of there.

Certain people just invoke certain thoughts in us, and it’s interesting how the human brain correlates such information into how we actually perceive someone. We try to notice the good qualities in our friends, and not the fact that they sometimes gossip like the ladies on The View. Why would we want to tarnish the good thoughts we have that are associated with people that we care about? I suppose the point where the bad qualities start overwhlemingly outweighing the good is when we tell ourselves it’s time to stop having friendships with said people and move on to others with which we better relate. What causes those emotions is unclear — at least to me — but interesting nonetheless.

But I, for instance, can instantly recognize people from the way they look or act. I know the guy I seldom see at the bar because he has shoulder-length hair and always wears a hat and a button-down shirt. I remember the guy at Walgreen’s who always looks pissed and gives you a snarky answer if you ask him where the shampoo is located. There’s the friend who has a bad reaction to mosquitoes. There’s the girl who you remember from freshman year math because she was the only one out of 300 people to sport a nose ring.

These associations we make with others is a big part of the process of living. We tend to grow closer to the ones in which we sympathize, either on a mental or emotional level, although we also enjoy having those people in our lives who are not part of the norm and do things a different way. It gives us hope that we can change our own character traits and be better people.

Life is so confusing at its core and these characteristics help guide us and help us remember who others are and why they somehow ended up in our subconscious. Sometimes they have absolutely no meaning to us besides putting vegetables on our sub sandwiches, calling us “sir” and telling us to “have a great day.” But I enjoy that. It’s almost like an invisible feeling of comraderie in which the planets are aligned and we both know who the other is just by the way we look and act. It’s kind of crazy if you think about it, and it’s even crazier when you see someone you know you know, and then you can’t remember and your mind gets distorted and you keep saying aloud, “I can picture him in my head but I don’t know where he’s from!” It becomes the only thing you can focus on until, randomly, the stranger pops into your head and you realize he was the guy who used to date your friend’s sister in the summer of 2004.

Life is not long enough to remember everything about everyone, so very rarely do we remember people by one encounter — that is, unless, it was important in some way. Time is of the essence and we don’t want to waste it on people who won’t matter in the long run. It’s sad but true. We can only latch on to those who put vigor into our own lives and give us something to remember them by, because there will eventually become a point when people grow apart for whatever reason and all that will remain is memories of moments which passed much too soon.

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