Two Kinds of People

This piece was inspired by Susan Bearman’s fab blog called Two Kinds of People.  She is holding a contest and for the writers out there, take a whirl.  It’s a lot of fun and you may learn something about yourself.  Here’s my attempt:

I’ve been thinking about the Two Kinds of People thing for a long long time; struggling with it, actually.  I’m not sure I like this philosophy—its duality, its divisiveness.  I consider myself an equal opportunity sort of gal.  I try not to stereotype or generalize or boil things down to this or that.  Yet…quite often…I find myself right in the middle of thinking it…and well, saying it.  “There are two kinds of people:” I’ll spout off, and then I’ll pause, sort of wishing I wasn’t at that colon once again.

But I feel an inner tingle.  A know-it-all buzz.  It’s that little bomb that goes off before you say something clever—like you have the finger on the pulse of humanity more than the other guy.  And let’s face it:  it’s usually light and it’s usually fun.  It’s a societal tick that we came up with because given all the pressure of adulthood, we’re still kids who like to play.  I think, in fact, it grows from the childhood playground question/obsession:  what’s your favorite number or what’s your favorite color.  I was the wise ass who said, infinity and a rainbow.  TO that end:

Here’s my favorite Two Kinds of People, and I use it like a trump card:  “There are two kinds of people:  The ones who save the buttons that come with new clothes, and those who don’t.”  I like to watch the light bulbs ignite.  The heads nodding.  I love the way people immediately glom on to one or the other, even if they’ve never thought of it before.  They like the affiliation.  They like to know they’re a part of a club.  And because I’m the one who drew the lines, I get to be the president of the club.  I like being the president of the club, for the two seconds that the club exists.  Because the truth is, it’s a forgettable club.  No one’s sitting in traffic the next day thinking, “I feel so important being inducted into the Button Keeper club.”  Or “Laura’s such an elegant thinker, coming up with that button remark.”  Still, it’s a momentary thrill.  A cheap stab at wisdom, even.  And one I like to play around with.

Just letting the mind flutter around the concept of there being two kinds of people feels chummy and clubby.  Try it.  It’s not about making anybody wrong.  It’s about preference and operating mechanisms and the collective We.  And heck—maybe it lends itself to important insights into humanity.  Maybe its staying power has to do with the fact that sometimes we need to simplify in order to see clearly.

There are two kinds of people:  the ones who look around on an airplane to see where the exit doors are, and the ones who don’t.

People who drive white cars and people who drive black cars.

Women who dress as cats for Halloween, and women who dress like hobos.

You don’t even have to say the pre-amble.  You can just say the club names and people’s eyes will track back and forth betwixt them and land on one or the other.  There’s a checkout guy at the corner grocery store who likes to bust these out when he’s bored.  It gets people patriotic the way sports fans are.  Like they’d fight to the death for their team for those two seconds.

Beatles or Rolling Stones.

Pink or orange.

Today Show or GMA.

And you can get poetic too:

Ocean or lake.

Snow or sand.

Or smarty pants:

Freud or Einstein.

Or even religious:

Jesus or Moses.

…but let’s not go there, okay?  (Same goes for political)  We’re playing, remember?

Or literary:

Hemingway or Fitzgerald.

Or newspapery:

Crossword or Sudoku.

Doonesbury or Peanuts.

Fascinating, really, this game we play and why it’s so much a part of the collective We.  It lives on because people like to take sides and they like to take things personally—especially things that don’t hurt.  There’s an “I would NEVER be on that other team” feel to this game.  “I would never keep that little Ziploc bag full of buttons.  What kind of an anal retentive loser does that?”


“I would NEVER dress like a cat for Halloween.  Only dumb sluts dress like cats.  Smart chicks dress like hobos.”

But I think we should be careful with the word never or always.  And therein lies my issue.  I like to think that sometimes I would dress like a cat.  Or sometimes I might just keep those buttons.  I like to think that I have range.  And that I’m not that predictable.  And still…I find myself at that colon, with that wee thrill in my solar plexus.

Maybe that’s how I can frame the Two Kinds of People thing and feel good about it.  There are two kinds of people:  those of us who think about it, and those of us that don’t.


Buttons:  no

Exit door:  yes

Hobo:  yes







Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, My Posts

4 Responses to Two Kinds of People

  1. Kathy O'Neill

    Very interesting and funny piece! As much as we like to think we are individuals, that we are each so very unique, we all seem to have that need to feel as if we “belong”. BTW, I am definetly an ocean and sand “groupie”

  2. Fiona

    And here I had you pegged as a button keeper!

    Living in a country with very distinct delineation between ‘two kinds of people’ this provided lots of food for thought.

  3. This button-saving girl loves this post! (You mean there are people who don’t save all those buttons? Really??) Thanks for making me stretch my thinking beyond my Beatles-loving, cat-dressing, entrance-seeking self.

  4. I never thought about putting all those said kept buttons in a ziploc…

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