There's this guy Husband and I recently met here in Dar es Salaam. It took all of five minutes for me to decide that he's one of those 1 sen a dozen, run-of-the-mill Indian appus (brothers) who love booze more than their own livers (or lives for that matter!).
It wasn't the bloodshot eyes, the slight slurring of his words or even the faint scent of Jack Daniel's hanging in the air that gave him away (I didn't really notice any of this at first because my attention was on his cat that was curled up on his sofa).
However, it was all instantly apparent when he offered us a drink the moment we entered his house. This could have been construed as him merely playing Good Host except that he served us a real drink - an alcoholic beverage.Now, far be it from me to condemn those who drink. I enjoy my Pina Coladas and gin n tonics just as much as the next gal but there was a tiny problem with the entire scenario. It was nine o'clock - in the freaking morning for goodness sake!
So call me critical and hang me on a hook but I was slightly disgusted with The Alkie. I mean who offers guests booze as a substitute for coffee?Unfortunately, spending an additional 20 minutes in The Alkie's company did nothing to change my initial opinion of him.
For no apparent reason, the guy asked me my age and when I declined to answer, he proceeded to insist that I tell him the year I was born, which is of course, the same thing.It seems funny when I think about it now but when you're forced to converse politely with a man with bloodshot eyes and who is in dire need of breath mints at nine in the morning is ...it’s a little hard to see the humor in the situation.
Anyway, I couldn't help but think of him as some kind of Loser but maybe I was wrong about him. Maybe this guy is a religious, book-reading, community-service-performing paragon of virtue.But its so hard to refrain from categorizing people, isn't it? l label people all the time - Loser, Cool, Friendly, Pretentious, Obtuse...
I know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover but I've never seen books on topics like Investment Opportunities in the 3rd World or the The Consequences of the Boer War wrapped in hot, pink, chic-lit type covers, have you? Book covers are designed to reflect the subject within and I think the same principle applies to people.I do realize that by labeling people, I may inadvertently keep away from someone who could potentially be a spectacular friend but you know what? Who has the time for giving everyone second/third chances to make a good first impression?
I've botched up first impressions myself. I often forget someone's name 5 seconds after they've been introduced to me (my number one flub) and its a sure-fire way to make people remember my name - for all the wrong reasons! People generally tend to remember my mistake and stay away. I've personally had precious few second chances in the first impression department.
So, despite the possible errors in judgment I'm likely to make, I think I'll stay with my usual way of sizing someone up. I believe I'm a pretty good judge of character and the friends I know have stood the test of labels and the test of time. So for now at least, I think I'll stick to my 'blink of an eye' verdicts!