I’m sure I’ve mentioned previously that I love reality television. It is my guilty pleasure and the trashier the show the better. Something about seeing crazy peoples lives play out that makes me feel like my own life is normal. It is alright that I have some issues in my life, because at least I’m not a forty something year old dressed in twenty something clothes yelling at my brat kids and fighting with strangers at a bar with my panties showing in front of millions of viewers. I can always hold on to that.
The problem I seem to be having more often lately though is that I’m recording so many of these shows that I am losing track of characters names and it makes it hard to discuss episodes with fellow fans. My solution to this came naturally and I didn’t realize I was doing it until recently; I call people by their identifiers.
We all have a few key identifiers that others use when they either can’t remember our names or they know multiple people with the same name:
Billy Bob: You will never believe what Samantha did the other day…
Billy Bob: She tried to play it off, but she definitely ripped a huge fart at karaoke the other night when she got on stage.
Joe: No way! Wait… which Samantha?
Billy Bob: You know, the one with the big boobs.
(Big boobs is the most common identifier I’ve heard in my research although I’m sure there are others I’d be less happy to hear about.)
So I realized that I use these subconscious identifiers when discussing the latest episodes of Top Chef or America’s Next Top Model, etc. It is early in the season, and Top Chef has too many contestants for me to keep track of so I now know some of them as follows:
– The sweet natured lesbian
– Chill tall black guy
– Mean fat girl
– Really fat girl
– Emotionally fragile asian girl
– Long haired confrontational Asian guy
– Awesome Asian guy who wins
– Uptight blonde
– Guy with a stupid ponytail
– Short whiny hispanic guy
– Uninteresting white girl
– Blindingly hot guy
– Mohawk who can’t cook
I understand this may seem offensive, but at least I think I’ve offended you all a little bit. I’m an equal opportunity offender. Identifiers aren’t meant to be insulting, because they aren’t something we are fully aware of. Reality shows are a conundrum because they combine not knowing a person at all with insight into their personality throughout the season. So at the beginning of a show someone might be “hot russian girl” and they later become, “hostile hot russian girl”. In everyday life the “hostile” identifier would outweigh looks and ethnicity, but on television you still do not quite know them well enough to drop the original attributes. This allows for far more interesting and detailed descriptors.
You give someone an identifier the second you meet them, it is specific to the circumstances of the relationship and it evolves as you get to know them better. If you are Hispanic and you have one Indian friend, they will probably be “the Indian one” in the group. Race seems to be the initial identifier; secondary is physical characteristics, such as “big nose” or “receding hairline”. As time goes on we develop more complex and accurate names like “Girl who always stays too long at the end of the night” and “The guy who always passes out at parties”.
This natural, ever-changing means of describing people sometimes becomes crazy events that, with certain groups of friends, will always be the identifiers. These are the trump cards. Major things like, “girl who peed in the dorm sinks freshman year” (actual girl I know) or “the one who slept with all those hookers”; these are the things that people remember you for.
So I guess to some of my friends I’m “the Jewish girl”, to others I could be “the one who never shuts up”, but I hope for those who know me best I can just be, “the one who talks a lot about poop and giggles”.