The Anti-Stereotype Challenge

Your challenge for today, should you choose to accept, is to pick one or more of these stereotypes and write a paragraph that shows us that these folks are NOT what we think they are.  Be creative.  Avoid falling into the easy opposite.  For example,  the mean spinster aunt should not suddenly morph into her opposite:  the secretly warm charitable volunteer.  I hope you will take this creative challenge!

 Santa Claus

Butch, the macho cowboy

Good Old Boy Bubba

Smooth-talking politician

Mean spinster aunt

Cute, bubbly cheerleader

The heroine—emerald green eyes, wide mouth, high cheek bones, lustrous hair

The hero—faded jeans, craggy cheeks, crew neck sweater, ironic half-smile

The pitchfork carrying devil

18 responses to “The Anti-Stereotype Challenge

  1. “Get your hands off that chair!”

    The husky voice was all too familiar. My Great Aunt Augusta affectionately known as ‘Gus’ or ‘Gustie’ to her sisters, was on my trail again. I think I was about five. All I know for certain is that I was too short to climb onto the arm chair in my grandmother’s living room without firmly grasping the wooden arms to pull myself up.

    “We spent all afternoon polishing that wood,” she said. “Now look at the finger prints you left on it.”

    I cringed and tried to feign a smile. It didn’t get me any points.

    My grandmother was the only one of her sisters to have children and grandchildren. Even her daughter, my Aunt Evelyn, didn’t have any. So children were something of an anomaly to the entire group. None of them had a clue how children were supposed to behave or what they might or might not be capable of doing. In this instance, I supposed she intended that I should sit on the floor as that would be the only surface I could get to without leaving fingerprints.

    Aunt Gustie never smiled. Ever. She never laughed. The only emotions I recall from her were anger and a kind of haughty disgust. And once I remember her jumping up from the dinner table in a sudden burst of tears.

    “John was staring at me!” She glared at my grandfather as she dramatically left the room sobbing.

    My grandfather looked at my grandmother in disgust and everyone pretended it hadn’t happened. No one went after her and no one mentioned the incident further. I found that peculiar even at my age, which was seven, I think. But I certainly wasn’t volunteering to run after her with a hankie.

    Aunt Gustie died when I was in high school. I honestly don’t remember exactly when. No one made much of a fuss about it, although I’m sure my grandmother felt sad about her passing. I never had any kind of positive interaction with the woman so I felt no loss.

    Then about eight years ago, shortly after my dad died, I was helping Mom clean out an old trunk in her family room. There were some wonderful black and white photos of my grandparents and some people I had trouble identifying.

    “Who’s this, Mom?” I held out a photo of a well dressed smiling young couple standing next to a large automobile with running boards and fat white walled tires.

    “That’s your Aunt Gustie and her husband, your Uncle Earl.”

    I was floored. I stared at the photo for a long time. So she had known how to smile at some point in her life. Mom went on to tell me they were a perfect match. Neither wanted children and both worried constantly about their appearance, always striving for their idea of perfection. When my uncle died, he’d left my aunt penniless so she’d had no other choice but to move in with my grandparents. She lived with them for years until her other sister became widowed and she moved in with her. I assume that made her happier. No children or grandchildren ever visited her home to leave fingerprints on the wood in her living room.

  2. I’m glad this challenge encouraged you to produce this fine bit of family history. I enjoyed it!

    • Thanks, Ann. In re-reading the assignment I’m not sure I really hit the target, though. I wanted to show that like everyone else, she had another side to her personality. I just never got to experience it so to me, she was always the mean spirited aunt.

      • I think you hit the nail on the head. With the personal history behind it, I feel makes it more dramatic because I is real. Thanks for sharing it with us, hopefully the next time we come in contact with a “Aunt Augusta” (no wonder she was bummed out with at name like Augusta) we’ll think twice before judging them.

  3. “Smooth-talking politician”

    As the TOTUS (Teleprompter Of The United States), I often see a side of the speaker that the majority of the people don’t see. Just the other day on the campaign trail I made him look incredibly focused, in-charge, confident. When the camera’s quite rolling, the smooth talker morphs into a totally different personality.

    It was quite the day, I was mounted on the back of a train that was taking us around the country side. At each stop, he would give the earth-shaking speech I rolled out for him, confidence would pour from his pores, he’d give a big wave and smile, and then disappear into the Presidential rail car. Once inside, he’d fall into a chair, usually the closest one to the door, and put his head into his hands. His hands would be shaking so hard that it caused his over-gelled comb over to shake with it.

    His mother would come over and he’d lay his head on her shoulder and cry.
    “Oh Mommy, I don’t want to do this anymore.”

    “Shut up you little tweep,” she said, “we’ve worked too hard to get here, so buck up and be the leader we trained you to be. The people love you,”

    “You think so Mommy?” he interrupted.

    “The people love you in spite of yourself. So we have one more stop today and then back home tomorrow. You got one hour to pull yourself together. As for the rest of you in here, not a word of this better get out or Vince Foster won’t be the only one found in a park late at night.”

    “Yes, ma’am”, “No problem, ma’am”, “Wouldn’t think of it ma’am.” were the assurances given back to her.

    “Ok then, anyone for tea?”

  4. Makes me think about all the candidates out there and wonder. 🙂

  5. Very timely, given the recent election. It’s a bad feeling since we really don’t know what the heck is going on. Great narrator!

  6. Good Old Boy Bubba sat in the privy, idly leafing through the catalog while he waited for whatever was causing the gut-rumbling to decide if it was gonna stay or get the hell outa there. A shaft of sunlight shone onto the catalog through the crescent moon that’d been carved in the privy door by his good old cousin Royston all them years ago before the Revenuers had finally trapped him up in Dead Snake Gulch. Bubba hated that crescent, because that damn-fool Royston had carved it maybe a half-inch or more off-center, creating an unsettling lack of symmetry that Bubba personally felt had always been the major cause of his long-time need of, and addiction to, Granny’s home-made fig tonic that made his skin break-out real bad and had ruined his chances of ever becoming a successful female impersonator.

  7. That had me chuckling. Certainly not the Bubba we expect. Great setting and details too. Fig tonic! Unsettling lack of symmetry! Wonder what catalog that is?

  8. Yes, she has it all– emerald green eyes, wide mouth, high cheek bones, lustrous hair–a best-selling novel’s perfect heroine. She has a Harvard law degree and an IQ of 145. She’s a CIA operative posing as a high powered attorney who is the daughter of a duke. Busty too. With legs that go on forever. But there’s a problem. Some problems.

    Her emerald green eyes were damaged during laser surgery so she has to wear coke bottle lenses in her glasses. She squints a lot. Her wide mouth droops slightly after a small stroke brought on by overwork and her bulimia. Her high cheek bones are from starvation, not good genes. She does have lustrous hair, but it’s a very ordinary brown, not chestnut or auburn. She is contemplating breast reduction surgery since it’s so tiresome dragging those 36 FFs around. Just too big and way out of proportion to her skinny legs that are so thin, her thighs, calves, and ankles form a straight line. She looks like a poor imitation of a brown-haired Barbie doll with glasses.

    Her career? Purchased on daddy’s dime at the law firm. They loved her Harvard degree but not her class standing (bottom fifth) and took her on as a handy lunch partner for new clients to ogle and also to meet gender quotas. She’s about to be fired since she’s sick every other day with headaches brought on by anxiety. The CIA, who thought no one would see beyond her figure, doesn’t want her any more either, and figures they don’t have to knock her off since she’s working on that so hard herself. Just in case, however, they are sending out their favorite operative to silence her forever.

    He shows up at her apartment wearing faded jeans and a crew neck sweater. His craggy cheeks crinkle in an ironic half-smile. He rings her doorbell.

    Anti-stereotypical plotline? How does this poor girl find true happiness?

  9. I see you guys have been having lots of fun while I’ve been romping around the globe, blasting my totally imaginary travel budget to smithereens. I’ve enjoyed all your posts here. I’ll be contributing some day–if I can figure out what country and time zone I’m in.

  10. Santa Claus

    Santa settled his bulk into the overstuffed chair, rubbed his face, and sighed. He reached for the bottle he kept by his side and poured himself two fingers of single malt scotch. He was too old for this job. He never imagined it would go on so long when he volunteered to fill in for old St. Nick. The pay was ridiculously high, but no longer enough for him to put up with the North Pole residency requirement and a bunch of smelly reindeer. He’d given his notice, as soon as they could find someone to replace him, he was headed for Bali where he planned to surf, chase women, and forget all about Christmas.

    • Joann, this is a crack-up! He’s off to chase women in Bali? What about Mrs. Santa Claus? Is she taking belly dancing lessons in some exotic locale too?

  11. You got me at the bunch of smelly reindeer! What a nice antidote to all the commercials that are hitting the screen right about now. Not so jolly old Santa. Good to see you here, Joann!

  12. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  13. Keeping well away from the edge of the smoking pit, the devil used his pitchfork to gently poke at the fingers of the poor soul trying to climb out. It was no use. She ignored the warning and heaved a corpulent torso onto his ledge. Exasperated, the devil levered the pitchfork’s tines under her hips and twisted. The long handle gave him enough leverage to ease her back into the liquid brimstone. Waves of heat raised a sweat upon his noble brow. Still he lingered, keeping an eye upon the murderess until he was satisfied that her soul was smelting evenly. Preserving a soul against the ravages of Hell was a thankless task, but the immortal essences had to be safeguarded even while the sins occurred in life were burned away. Sure, Lucifer would be the first to admit that being handpicked by God to oversee the entire process was an honor, but he had to admit that he was really looking forward to Judgment Day, when the gates of Heaven would swing open, and he’d finally get a day off.

  14. The devil as blue collar worker, punching a time clock at the daily furnaces. Yep! That’s not the usual Lucifer we know. Nice!

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