As a long-time observer of people, I am constantly trying to identify how much I can tell about a person given the least amount of information. A few months ago, Ripp wrote about what you could determine by knowing only where someone buys groceries. In a few select cases, I think I may be able to do it in even less.
Now, it’s not a perfect science, in fact I think scientists would be really offended by my even suggesting science has anything to do with it, but there are a few instances where may be able to know everything about you using just a single word. Here are the five words that, when used in a non-ironic context, reveal your entire situation.
You’re in your twenties or early thirties. You are currently wearing, or at some point have worn, a popped collar. You wear cargo shorts even though you’re never going to need that many pockets. You went to a state school, where you excelled at beer pong. People think your hair just grows like that but it actually takes you 45 minutes to do every day. You like football and Michael Bay movies. You wish more people got your incredibly nuanced Entourage jokes.
You frequent art shows, telling everyone it’s for the art but really it’s for the free booze. At parties you introduce yourself as a struggling performance artist, even though you’re actually an office assistant at a law office. You wrote the first page of a book six years ago and tell everyone you’re still “waiting for the story to tell you where it wants to go.” You wear at least one scarf all the time. You spend more on your bicycle than you do on your apartment, which you share with someone whose name is a common noun, like “Trench” or “Flag.”
You are very tan. Some people think you’re too tan, but you know that you can never be too tan. You were in a sorority in college, which you joined for the lifelong friendships but whose other members you now hate. Every summer, you declare one song to be “your jam” and get into fights at parties if someone else insists it is actually their jam. You love movies based on Nicholas Sparks books, but have never read those books.
You believe that the path to success is best described in acronyms. You subscribe to Forbes magazine and the New York Times iPad app. You always try to be the first person off an airplane. Your Starbucks order is seven-words long, and you get very annoyed when it’s wrong. You tell people your favorite movie is Wall Street, but it’s really Wall Street 2. Your job is very hard to explain, partially because you don’t totally understand what your job is. You wish you were taller.
1. “Qwa-sahnt” (pronunciation of “croissant”)
You have either been to France or recently watched Amélie. You don’t have cable, and remind people of that often. If you are a man, all of your ties are skinny. If you are a woman, you wear a lot of sweater capes. You have a cat that you secretly hate. You complain about jet lag for the two weeks after you return from anywhere, even if it was within the continental U.S. You own every one of Victor Hugo’s books in the original French. You don’t speak French.