Of course I stole this title from a Sunday Times Lifestyle column. It has something to do with how aptly it sums up my attitude towards ignorant people who tend to sum up strangers from what they look like on the outside.
Any sane person who's ever bumbled into a hotel lobby with an untucked shirt and dirty socks showing, surely knows what it means to be mistaken for a classic nincompoop?
Before you even say hello, a languid rolling eye from the receptionist motions you to head back the way you came in.
Or picture an old man mumbling to himself while strolling down the street, with his oversized overalls trailing his every move, and you immediately hear the mocking sounds of a cuckoo clock tick-tocking inside your head.
Yet, it's the kind of thing we all do, though often subconsciously, when meeting someone for the first time: we read a book by its cover.
Or what the writer Hari Kunzru calls "being known" just after one brief, mute up-and-down glance by a total stranger.
Even someone as close as a friend does it, for example, when an Indian guy is explicitly informed that he will have to bring samoosas to a friends' house party – because, let's face it, who else would know where to get that popular Indian snack?
And if you believe modern journalistic wisdom, which claims that a reader connects better with a writer if that writer's mugshot is published on the same page as his or her opinion piece, then allow me to demonstrate how you can often misjudge someone by taking them at face value.
If it were left to strangers to sum up your character based on your image alone, a lot of people would "know" you without really knowing you. Jonathan Shapiro, the cartoonist Zapiro, looks like the least sarcastic man in the world.
Who would pick either Leon Schuster or David Kau as the funniest man in a crowd if they only saw a mugshot of either comedian beforehand?
Doesn't Steve Hofmeyer, in his pictures, look like all he needs is love from a curvaceous African woman – one who doesn't hesitate to dispense a few klaps when her man gets out of line?
Julius Malema? Doesn't he look like he runs a tavern in Seshego, his home town in Limpopo Province, where he sells leftover sushi from Kenny Kunene's parties at half-price?
And Trevor Manuel: he looks like an uninspired high school principal these days, the type who'd write a five-page letter to your mother about how her naughty son is suspected of writing "Jimmy and Trevor -- 2geda 4 lyf!" in red lipstick on his car's windscreen...
In these bleak days of pseudo-soothsayers who pronounce Judgement Day as if anyone can prepare for the end of the world, I repeat the title: "I see stupid people!" I ought to know all this.
I too, like everyone else, have "been known" quite a few times. I was born and raised in a village, in Peddie. I studied journalism in Port Elizabeth, a metropolitan area. I work in Grahamstown, a small town. In a village, a successful matriculant is special.
In a city township, all village people are backward. In a fairly mixed-race small town, you're an anomaly, succeeding despite a disadvantaged background.
You're all these things of course, until you prove otherwise – such as the fact that it's possible to memorise a chapter in five minutes the night before your exam and barely pass; that, in fact, township people can be so rural it's not funny; and that in a mix-raced town, you're no worse off than a foreign tourist wandering down High Street, admiring old architecture...
But of course, what people see, is a galaxy of difference from who you really are. As a US country singer once said: "There's the person other people see in you, there's the person you think you are, and then there's the real you."
The biggest slice of the cake then goes to a certain colleague who, upon laying his eyes on me for the first time, informed anyone who cared to listen that I, Thabo Jijana, have uncles all over Grahamstown, something which was news to me. "Don't you know Thabo's uncles?" he would ask an unsuspecting spectator. "They wear second-hand coats in sweltering weather, always seating in some dodgy street corner with their Shoprite plastic bags, clutching sausages like walkie-talkies," he would explain.
Needless to say, I've never been told why I particularly became a nephew to countless "uncles".
-No, Thabo doesn't have a harem nor countless "loin fruits" from different women.