Like, do first impressions matter, dude?
“First impressions matter. One is a fool to think otherwise.” So wrote former Houston minister Bill Love.
As I read Bill’s words, I thought about an interesting first meeting I had with my wife’s niece’s then-boyfriend who was welcomed to the table a few years ago at Thanksgiving.
May I state the obvious? This fellow was no blood kin to me. Until I got to know him a bit, I confess that I would have taken some comfort in mentioning that. Nor is he any blood kin to my wife. But the fact that it was my wife’s niece who chose this guy, well, that fact gave me pause to think, early on, that some serious weakness might be lurking down toward that end of my children’s gene pool. My first impression of the guy wasn’t great.
Was it the hair? It might have been combed once for, say, a hospital baby picture.
Was it the somewhat quizzical look in the eyes? I wondered if that look was evidence of an elevator that didn’t quite reach the top floor, or, on the other hand, a mark of out-of-the-ordinary intelligence. Or perhaps that’s just the look you’d expect from a guy coming from an area that must be the old VW van capital of the world, a young sprout whose parents (maybe even grandparents?) were very likely fully-flowering flower children. Maybe he just didn’t know what to make of us, either.
Was it is grammar I found odd? Like, I mean, dude, do all real sentences have to start with “like” and end with “dude”?
Or was it the silver ear stud sticking out of his lip, certainly his most striking feature? That extra hole in his head, particularly in that particular spot, looks incredibly uncomfortable and, to me, uncommonly silly.
But I got to spend part of Thanksgiving getting to know this dude. Mark —like that’s his name, dude — even took pains to shake my hand and say around his ear-lip-stud in an amazingly unhairlipped way as Thanksgiving ended, “It was good to meet you, sir.” “Sir” made me feel really old. But it was, like, a nice touch, I thought, uh, dude.
And then I spent a weekend a few weeks later up in the New Mexico mountains with Mark and company (several of whom have been breathing very thin air too long, I think) as I performed the wedding for another niece. And now Mark impresses me as not that bad a guy.
I still think Bill Love’s right. If you don’t think first impressions matter, like what world do you live in, dude? If Mark wants a job in the real lower-altitude marketplace where the demand for oxygen-starved snowboarders with lip rings is somewhat depressed, he may have to alter his style a bit. But Bill is also right when he goes on to comment that “there must be more to life than first impressions,” and that to Christ, what always mattered and still matters is what is inside.
Did I mention that Mark is majoring in astrophysics?
Like, go figure, dude.
Curtis Shelburne is minister at 16th and Ave. D Church of Christ in Muleshoe. He can be contacted at: