Reflections on being the Goat Skull Guy (and pigeonholing in general)

pigeonholing

Over the past few months I have been addressed as ‘Andrew’, ‘Sir’ and ‘Oh no, that guy is coming over to talk to us – fake smiles everyone – oh hello Andrew.’ I am content with all of these monikers. What I am less thrilled about is being known as the ‘Goat Skull Guy’. Ever since I blogged about taking my own Goat Skull to work with me for Take Your Skull to School or Work Day I have been categorised – or pigeonholed if you will – as that guy with the skull.

Pigeonholing is an ugly sport, like elephant poaching or playing Twister in winter. It renders both the pigeonholee and the pigeonholer one-dimensional and it evokes the image of a cartoon character being shot with pigeon-shaped bullets that leave pigeon-shaped wounds. Like I said, it’s an ugly sport.

It can take on many different forms too. There is Actor Pigeonholing for actors who never move on from successful roles (Buffy, I’m looking at you) and there is Author Pigeonholing for authors who never escape their most successful books (J.K. I’m looking at you). And there is Present Pigeonholing. This kind of pigeonholing has probably happened to you before. You express an interest in – let’s say – custard – and for the rest of your life you receive custard-themed presents: cartons of custard, custard powder, custard apples, books of custard recipes, books about General Custer, etc.

But Weird Pigeonholing – aka being pigeonholed for a perceived weirdness – is the worst. I say this as both the Goat Skull Guy and as a person. I haven’t always been on the receiving end of Weird Pigeonholing though. At school I was overshadowed by characters such as Robert the Bloodeater who was known for eating his own blood, Fast Brent who was known for running and JessieandCassie who were known for being twins.

No, it wasn’t until 2009 that I was truly reduced to being a one-thing wonder. Since posting about goat skulls on this blog I have received an endless stream of emails from people who say they have been reminded of me by a certain skull or goat-related object they’ve come across.

Does it even matter though? Should we care if we are pigeonholed? I thought about this a lot and I realised that there is actually a lot more to me. I am a real-life human being with loads of different layers of emotions and garments and personality traits. I am not a goat-obsessed weirdo with a taste for bones. And it really doesn’t matter if people pigeonhole me. I felt much better after I realised this and had freed my mind from a torturous line of thought. And so I stepped outside and went for a leisurely stroll through the goat graveyard out the back of my house, content in the knowledge that I am the well adjusted person I have always thought I am.

Comments

  1. Further to my email to you the other day about that cow skull painted with fruit, I just wanted to let you know that I Googled “goat skull” and this post was the fifth result.

  2. I know what you mean when you talk about the custard example, pretty fumnny. And at the same time I agree with you, I also see that it’s safer:
    “Does he like chocolate?”
    “I don’t know, but he likes custard, doesn’t he?
    “Yes, he does.”
    “So take the custard one”
    I feel sad when I think about all the 60s pidgeonholed bands – it’s not their fault, you know?
    I really hope you haven’t received any goat skull X-mas card ¬¬ And I really loved your conclusion, it made me think that people always categorize us, but only we know who we really are, that’s why we shouldn’t give as much attention as we give to people’s opinion about us.

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