Kobi and Sarah analyse the beginnings of their favourite fictional relationships.
Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter
(Silence of the Lambs)
There are few first impressions that would resonate more lastingly than Hannibal Lecter’s upon Clarice Starling’s. His unwavering and mocking stare, the manner in which he rolls his words over his tongue, as if relishing each syllable before releasing it into the air. He is eager to suss this new piece of meat out, examining her ID and testing Clarice’s guts. His dark grin is an instant indication: you would not want to meet this man in a dark and secluded alleyway and you certainly do not want to fuck with him.
Clarice is certainly a woman with balls however; if she is fearful, she doesn’t let on. She stares back at him, scrupulously honest with a firm courtesy. It’s only when Hannibal skillfully sniffs out her skincare routine (“Evyan skin cream. And sometimes you wear L’Air du Temps. But not today”) that faint strains of tension begin to show. And while she is probably terrified of Hannibal, it’s uncertain of just how much he respects her along with how much he enjoys taunting her. This unsettling yet mesmerizing scene is an indication of how their strange relationship is to evolve, where Lecter continually probes her, almost perfecting it as an art and Starling is gradually and increasingly disconcerted. There’s a forced courtesy, always, yet the underlying hostility could eat away at your skin. They will never be friends. But at least Hannibal (SPOILER ALERT) will never invite her over for dinner.
First Impression rating: 7/7 Michael Ceras
Bruno and Schmuel
(The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas)
Is there a measurable legitimacy to first impressions? There are so many factors that can affect how you perceive things and people initially; your own preconceptions can arise from many different factors. Perhaps there is only one time in your life when your first impressions are truly reliable, when you are only beginning to see and understand everything and you have no preconceived idea of what it all means. When 10-year-old Bruno meets the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, he does not recoil in horror like any other self-respecting Nazi. He just sees a boy like himself, a boy that for some reason is dirty, shaven and is wearing pyjamas. John Boyne describes this encounter supremely, saying “He looked the boy up and down as if he had never seen a child before and wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to do with one: eat it, ignore it or kick it down the stairs.”
Both of the boys are hopelessly naïve to their circumstances, with neither of them knowing that behind the fence where Schmuel, the other boy is, is a concentration camp. Their first meeting is irrelevant to the friendship that will soon blossom (Bruno tells Schmuel he has a strange name) but it is astoundingly profound when considering that this conversation only arises on the basis that Bruno has no idea what a Jew is. Had he been older and/or more aware, Bruno’s first impression would blatantly contrast to that dude is weird and they definitely would not have become chums (nor would they have found their tragic doom). Children are just cool like that.
First Impression rating: 4/7 Michael Ceras
Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom
(The Harry Potter Series)
This relationship is fairly relatable; it is highly probable that we all know a Neville Longbottom, an ugly ducking who transformed into a supreme human being. As far as first impressions go, Neville exuded the kind that no one wants to convey, especially to a cool cat like Harry Friggin’ Potter. Their first conversation consists of Neville asking Harry if he has seen his missing toad. Seriously? Hogwarts is one of the few schools out there that will you allow to have a pet, with the option of having a cat (pretty great) or an owl (mother fucking grand) and instead Neville has a lowly amphibian that has no comedic power, can’t deliver mail and won’t hoot about and be majestic. Harry being the jolly nice chap he is, just reassures Nevs and tells him that his ribbetster will show up. Had Harry been more critical, he certainly would have realized just how lame Neville is.
You could make a drinking game out of the number of times that Neville fucks up everything. In first year, he can’t seem to get anything right: after being chucked into Gryffindor, he runs down the Great Hall with the Sorting hat still on his head, he melts Seamus’ cauldron in potions, he breaks his wrist after falling off his broomstick, etc. This only allows him to become an easy target for the likes of Peeves and Malfoy (“Longbottom, if brains were gold you’d be poorer than Weasley, and that’s saying something”) with Harry and the rest of the Gryffs having to constantly be his bloody saviors.
Yet these feeble first impressions are remarkable, given Neville’s transformation into the wizard warrior donned in a cardigan only Neville himself could make sexual. Initially, Harry clearly had the upper hand here, but eventually they could face each other squarely. People like Neville are what make first impressions into marvels. I only wish puberty treated me like it did him.
3/7 Michael Ceras
Charlie and Patrick
(Perks Of Being A Wallflower)
The bonds we form during adolescence are ones which are most dimensional. As we grow together, we witness each other change. Perks of Being A Wallflower is the ultimate coming of age novel, and the relationships which are explored are generic in the most fascinating way.
It is rather ironic really; Charlie’s first impression of Patrick is as Nothing.
There is a guy in shop class named “Nothing”. And he is hilarious. “Nothing” got his name when kids used to tease him in middle school. I think he is a senior now. The kids started calling him Patty when his real name is Patrick. And “Nothing” told these kids, “Listen you either call me Patrick or you call me nothing”. So the kids started calling him “Nothing” and the name stuck. (Page 15, Perks of Being A Wallflower)
Patrick and Charlie are two characters who embark mutually beneficial relationship which sees both of them change, for the better. Patrick uses his experience, charisma and in many ways his sexuality to seduce Charlie into his world. In trying to expose Charlie to his ways he uncovers many new dimensions to himself. Simultaneously they experience the tortures of first love. The continually growing and complex dynamic of their relationship relies in the truth that love is the most universal relationship. Patrick being gay and Charlie being straight is irrelevant; they suffer together and help each other overcome toxicity in many aspects of their life.
Sometimes we help each other find each other.
3/7 Michael Ceras
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson
(Sherlock Holmes Series)
Sherlock and Watson are the ultimate bromance. Watson is Sherlock’s assistant, flatmate, voice of reason and (I imagine) wingman. Their dynamic though almost an entire centaury outdated still adequately speaks of the bros b4 hoes bond that men have.
Near the further end a low arched passage branched away from it and led to the chemical laboratory. This was a lofty chamber, lined and littered with countless bottles. Broad, low tables were scattered about, which bristled with retorts, test-tubes, and little Bunsen lamps, with their blue flickering flames. There was only one student in the room, who was bending over a distant table absorbed in his work. At the sound of our steps he glanced round and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure. “I’ve found it! I’ve found it,” he shouted to my companion, running towards us with a test-tube in his hand. “I have found a re-agent which is precipitated by hoemoglobin, and by nothing else.” Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could not have shone upon his features.
“Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said Stamford, introducing us. (A Study In Scarlet, page. 2)
From these humble and somewhat mediocre beginnings develops a friendship I am jealous of. The simplicity of their introduction preludes the simplicity of their relationship. I look at their friendship and well with jealousy; I just want someone to accept me for my opium smoking ways.
4/7 Michael Ceras
Winston Smith and O’Brien
As much as I adore Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, there is no denying that it is a total utter brain fuck. Everything you think is, isn’t. Everyone you like, you hate. I know; www.confusion.com or what? And for this reason, poor old protagonist Winston Smith had no hope. He forms all his first impressions of people through eye contact. And then manifests them in his mind. Despite the extreme circumstances which thrust him into relationship termoil, the unspoken bond he forms to characters in the novel, specifically O’Brien are beyond relatable.
Winston feels bonded to O’Brien from the start, for reasons almost unknown to readers. As Winston walks down the ministry corridors he claws at the walls trying to shatter the painful and bleak monotony of his life. When someone sings his voice from behind, Winston finds himself face to face with one O’Brien. The man he has infatuated to be a potential ally in rebellion. His initial instinct is to pack it in and run faster than a refugee from Afghanistan (I know, I went there) but he sticks around and learns that O’Brien actually just wants to invite him to his house so that they can pour over Newspeak’s dictionary together.
Despite the limited exchange Winston is beyond certain that O’Brien is on his side. So when O’Brien meets him in fresh hell aka room 101 poor old Winston is one surprised old mother fucker. O’Brien and Winston are perfect examples of the power of the mind; we can manifest people to be anything we want them to be. Right now I am manifesting you as the writer of this pile of shizzle haus and me the appalled reader.
5/7 Michael Ceras