Stereotypes are all around us. Some of us use them as a guide to make inferences, and others prefer to remain hell-bent that stereotypes are complete fabrications of rarely occurring instances. We can choose to perpetuate, defend, or flat out ignore stereotypes. That is the beauty of America.

When trying to write about the topic of stereotyping, I racked my brain to find social situations which never let me down in the "this always happens" department. I considered public transit, but with people commuting via buses, trains, subways, brown lines, orange lines, tram cars, trolleys, rickshaw, etc. it seemed pretty hard to relate to "the masses."

I also considered your typical fraternity house… but believe it or not, there are only two types of Frat Boy: lax all-star, and retired lax all-star—and that's just not enough to write an essay about.

Over the course of the bonfire, it is a guarantee that The Dipshit will somehow extinguish a previously thriving fire.Then it hit me… bonfires. An American symbol of inefficient heating, circular gatherings, and a beer pounding, philosophy unleashing, fire fueled forum that nearly everyone has participated in. So in the spirit of stereotyping and keeping America beautiful, let's fan these flames.

1. The Guy Who Constantly Stirs the Fire with a Stick

You could be having the most urban of bonfires, and somehow this guy still manages to find a 4 to 6 foot long stick. No matter how crude the wooden implement, he's constantly probing the fire with this stick as if he doesn't know what else to do with his hands or as if he's genuinely concerned about the welfare of the fire and thinks the best way to keep it roaring is to constantly stir the ashes beneath the flames.

2. The Funny Guy

Bonfire in a field
He even seems to spark the fire's interest occasionally.
This guy is the catalyst to bonfire conversation. He tells great stories, absorbs what could've been quiet conversation space, and makes it fun to drink around the bonfire. So what if he talks a little too much, you're drinking Bud heavies and he's right there with you in booze, all the while getting more entertaining. Eventually, someone will suggest that he go up at the next open mic comedy show, but he'll never do it. The roars and crackles of an open flame are the funny guy's catalyst. Well, that and 15 beers.

3. The Veteran of Bonfires

Apparently this guy has never missed a bonfire. Through verbal cues, you can approximate his bonfire tenure to the nearest five occurrences. He's visibly jealous of the funny guy, and can't really tell a story like him. But that won't stop him from telling you about the time at the last bonfire… you remember that time, right? Weren't you there? Oh… well it was fucking epic. Too bad this bonfire will never be as good as the last one.

4. The Dipshit

Over the course of the bonfire, it is a guarantee that he will do at least one of these four things:

  1. Bring a conversation to a halt by saying something stupid.
  2. Somehow nearly extinguish a previously thriving fire.
  3. Somehow nearly fall into the fire.
  4. Fall into the fire.

5. The Quiet Guy Who Acknowledges Everything

This guy is kind of like the stick guy, except he isn't annoying at all. In fact, he hardly says anything, preferring instead to listen to everyone else talk while nodding his head and slow-roasting marshmallows. Is he high? Shy? Constipated? Stupid? We'll probably never know.

6. The Guy Who Emerges from the Darkness

This is the guy who arrives two hours after the bonfire has started. He is one of the more well-liked guys in the group. How do we know this? We know this based on the reception he gets from everyone else, and the fact that he emerged from the darkness instead of creepily basking in it. Nobody questions where emerging darkness guy has been, they're just glad he made it. I mean, what if he came all the way from another bonfire just to be at this one?

7. The Guy Who Stays in the Darkness

Guy sitting at a distance from a raging bonfire and smokeAlways at the periphery of the bonfire glow, this fella never seems to breach the social circle of the bonfire. He could never say the right thing, the witty thing, or anything with the right timing that would have granted him something better than outer-circle awkwardness.

8. Too Hot/Too Cold Guy

This guy is constantly shuffling his seat closer to the bonfire, only to move his seat farther away moments later. He can never seem to find the right depth at which to spectate a bonfire. He's just too hot/cold! Damn this weather is crazy, right?!

*A few more stereotypes were considered, but not prevalent enough to make the "field of eight." Among these: "Bring his guitar everywhere he goes guy," "Guy who barely fits into a folding chair," and "Aspiring astrophysicist guy" who has the urge to tell everyone around him everything he (thinks he) knows about celestial bodies as soon as the stars are visible.