There was something about the way he gazed doe-eyed into my line of sight—it was all but inevitable. With a cartoonish smile doodled on his face, he slurred out, “Duuude—let’s go chick-hunting…,” prompting my lower jaw to scrape a sizeable layer of enamel off my bottom teeth. With the essential topics of basketball, hot chicks, and general inebriation safely crossed off his internal checklist, there was nothing left to say—it was simply time.
What had I gotten myself into?
With such a to-do about the hipster crowds and basic buzz in big city areas, a lingering problem has flown under the radar for far too long. I am speaking of the Bro-est Common Denominator—the great balancing force to the fraction of originality you had left in your life.
Now you’re thinking, “Oh, bros again…? Been there, done that—closed that chapter wayyy long ago,” you say, scrambling to noncommittally answer your “bud’s” ritualistic 3:26PM Friday-afternoon texts. “He’s not a bro,” you say—“he uses “bud” in his texts,” you spout, coming all too quickly to his defense. At this point our argument ceases as you find yourself lost in thought, struggling to weigh any and all possible options against your “bud’s” exceedingly open self-invitations. The unfortunate reality is that if you’re a young guy dwelling in a major metro area, you’ve probably found yourself stricken by this chronic chillness.
“Hey bud, what r u doing tonite?”
Setting this straight.
The Bro-est Common Denominator (BCD) is a new breed—an evolution, if you will, on a once-thought-to-be dwindling social species in young adult culture, and he’s learned to integrate himself beyond the largely white, well-to-do college and prep-school crowds. The “bro you know”—the pastel and backwards-cap-toting douchebag of yesteryear—is no more. He’ll wear a plaid shirt. He may attempt to grow facial hair (more often resembling a lazily-seeded lawn than a beard). He can live in Williamsburg—in fact, he probably lives in Williamsburg (he hears there are some “hot babes” over there). And now it’s Friday night, and he’s looking for some action.
This is where you come in.
Make no mistake; the BCD is an opportunist. He called you—you were the sub-acquaintance that said yes, and now you’re in this together. But while you may be his “brolo-numero-uno,” you are also just another back-up pick among his meticulously refined fantasy roster. As soon as he gets word of a freshman party from his younger sister at NYU, you’re getting the chill shoulder big time … after three calls and twelve texts over a 20-minute window to solidify your plans.
At this point, you might be wondering how you even wound up in such a ridiculous situation. You weren’t even so keen on going out with him to begin with, and now you’re effectively being stood up. What the hell, right? This leads us to another fundamental concern with Bro-est Commons: BCDs transcend standard social group confines. Back in the day, it was easy to avoid the bros—they hung with their crew and you were all like, “Whatev’s I’m an individual…” Bro-est doesn’t care about that. Utilizing an all-purpose blend of guy-friendly topics and painfully neutral responses, this social housefly can sneak his way into the tightest windows of conversation. He’ll ask you about your artsy-fartsy whatever you were doing (Yhhh … how’s that music thing??) and will respond to your answer in the only way he knows how—“That’s what’s up.” And he’ll be right—every time.
If there’s a general theme to the comportment of the Bro-est Common Denominator, it’s non-selectiveness. This will work to your disadvantage in every way possible. In action, our subject will make it his half-assed mission for the entirety of your ill-advised evening, when he is not charging upwards of six screwdrivers to his parents’ credit card, to “hook you up” with any girl he encounters … or, more realistically, spills screwdrivers on. “This guy’s the talk of the town,” he says. “—reeeally?” the girl responds, eager to watch your collective ship sink, crash, and be burned to a lovely parmesan crisp. As you fumble for your words, you realize Bro-est has already jumped off the side of the boat and onto other prospects.
On a typical night, Bro-est begins his game by driving hard to the center of the floor where he attempts to barrel his way into the conversation of a group of unsuspecting females. As he fails (Oh man, you like PBR too??), he pivots awkwardly nearing the rim of the dance floor where he shifts to an aggressive “box out” strategy, gradually and not-so-subtly separating the object of his indiscriminate affection from her teammates. Occasionally, if his opponent is of a similarly non-selective persuasion, the BCD can get some points on the board, but more often than not, “his girl” will call a time-out and travel indefinitely to the bathroom of oblivion, leaving Bro-est on the bench for the time being.
With the basic pleasantries out of the way, Bro-est is free to fully reduce your group’s conversation to its basest form. He swoops in, and before anyone can see it coming, your roommate’s impassioned debate on the current model for non-for-profits has devolved to an enthusiastic analysis of “the models”that work at your non-for-profit. Congratulations—you’ve been DENOMINATOR-ED.
Surely we see the symptoms, but what is it at base that is most responsible for the rather detestable behavior of our dear Bro-est? If we bulldoze our way down to the root of the problem, we begin to see things clearly—an undeniable lack of authenticity is to blame. Bro-est Commons are beer-goggled hook-up culture conveniently applied to friendship. Our oh-so-smooth womanizer swept those girls off their feet—and away to the nearest cab—because they were standing in front of him. He gave you a call because you interned together at the same office for three weeks two years ago … and he found no one else to go “chick-hunting” with.
While it is nice to feel included, your stroll back from the bar shouldn’t feel like a walk of shame. Bro-est Common Denominators are social Machiavellians that satisfy none of the reciprocal requirements present in valid friendship. There is no casual communication free of pretense, and there are no attempts made to know a peer beyond a superficial level, nor to foster common ground.
There’s a whole exciting world out there, and there are good, worthwhile individuals in any city—don’t sell yourself and the people around you short by just bro-ing with the flow. You are known by the company you keep, as the tired saying goes—shouldn’t that impression be more than an ignorance of common pronoun spellings (U kno whut I mean?)?
And if you happen to find yourself currently sipping from that great screwdriver of douche—it’s time to sober up! Bro forth, good sirs; give the people around you good reason to appreciate your company and show them that you value theirs. Oh, and for selectivity’s sake—be genuine.