“Bro” isn’t exactly a new term to me. I grew up in the late 80’s/early90’s when California surf culture was thriving. Once bizarre words such as “Gnarly,” “Tubular,” or “Awesome,” became everyday slang for much of the country, and “Bro” found its way into the American vernacular. When I think of “Bro” it’s that image, a shaggy-haired surfer and a neon green board that pops into my head.
Others think of “Bro” as being a shortened version of “Brother,” which brings forth images of African-Americans, or perhaps just a beatnik or two. Johnny, the monster who had failed to address in the first place, didn’t seem to fit any of these stereotypes. He was just one of the countless Abercrombie and Fitch rejects who paraded around my hometown in their raised trucks and eXtreme* attitude.
After sharing my story with other servers at the restaurant I began to learn a lot about the associations others make with the word “Bro.” For most it is merely a generic synonym for “Dude,” but in some cases it carries a very specific and (some would say) vicious meaning.
Rather than try to explain it myself, I thought I’d let Wikipedia do it. The fact that Wikipedia had an entry devoted to such things amuses me to no end.
Bro, or Flatbiller, is a synonym for a member of a Southern California subculture. The subculture is primarily centered around Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside County, San Diego, and San Bernardino…
…Bros tend to operate lifted trucks and have a large sticker or design on the back window of their truck. They wear flat-billed hats turned to the side or bent up and talk about dirt bikes (usually accompanied by tattoos and/or stretched ears). These gentlemen with a rough-exterior warmheartedly refer to each other as “Bro” and partake in drinking and proving their masculinity by means of riding bikes or fighting, although they usually back down after being threatened. An average Bro is a Construction worker or unemployed…”
I wasn’t aware that these young men I was surrounded with all shared a label. They’re like a gang, only terribly disorganized, non-threatening, and borderline stupid. The worst part is that in ten years they will all be running the state when they inherit family businesses.
When he greeted the new trainee was he simply acknowledging the presence of an equal? Being so different from the two was I perceived not to be a threat, and therefore not worth talking to in the first place?
While I may never know, I did learn more about Bros than I once thought possible. Next time I’m just going to admit to myself that nobody likes me and deal with it.
*eXtreme is a term I use to describe people who buy their “attitude” from a skateboard shop.