The 8 Dudes You'll Meet At A Bonfire

Bonfires are an American Tradition, close conversation, grouping up, sharing stories, logs and beerStereotypes 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 doing a reminiscent piece on your typical fraternity house... but believe it or not,  things have not changed since 2008, and there are still 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.

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. An arena that distills personality so distinctly, that you feel like you’ve known these people all your life after a couple logs are tossed onto the fire. 

So in the spirit of stereotyping and keeping America beautiful, let's get to the list and 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 stick of comfortable length. 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.

2. The Funny Guy
Say hello to the catalyst of the bonfire conversation. He tells great stories, anecdotes, and even points out when your hair is crossing over to the wrong side of your part. He 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 lights and he's right there with you in booze, all the while getting more entertaining. Eventually, someone will suggest that he go up at next open mic, but he'll never agree to do it. Until he changes his mind after about 15 beers and busts out the bit he's been secretly working on.

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 a story of his own. Luckily the lighting is usually low, and you’ve learned to yawn inaudibly.

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. Always in agreement, never going out on a limb in dialogue.

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. And glad to see that he’s not Bonfire Guy #7.

7. The Guy Who Stays in the Darkness
Always at the periphery of the bonfire glow, this odd bird never seems to breach the social circle of the bonfire. His involvement (or lack thereof) forces you to do both keep an eye on him, and subconsciously evaluate him psychologically. Eventually you arrive to the conclusion that when it came to social gatherings like this one he could just 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. His anatomical thermostat just cannot achieve homeostasis. One minute he’s burning up, the next minute he feels like he’s spectating from Fairbanks, Alaska. He's just too hot/too cold Guy!

*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.