Seed

Grumpy Eye for the Metro Guy

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Well, Spring is fixin’ to sproing, and lookee there… the seeds of discontent are just peeking their first few sprouts through the dirt. All across the country, people seem to be getting fed up with one thing or another… which is to say, of course, that this particular winter seems to have pushed ALL of my Grumpy Old Curmudgeon buttons and I currently feel like griping and kvetching 24/7. I know this fog will burn off once the weather gets nice, the birds start chirping, and the ladies start strutting around in their little bitty summer-wear again. For the moment, though, it looks like y’all are going to have to put up with another round of ill-tempered observations from me. I think I’ll start by delving into some recent observations which have been made ABOUT me by others, just in case some of the rest of y’all might have gotten something similar laid on you and wondered who it was who was losing their mind: you or everyone else.

Take comfort in the fact that it’s probably not you.

Case in point: I was recently accused of being a homophobe for committing the apparently unpardonable anti-PC crime of admitting that I don’t find “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” particularly amusing. So, seeing as how this screed of mine is sure to be viewed by up to 6 or 7 people, I figure now would be a good time for me to clarify my position on this, so as to avoid any misunderstanding:

I don’t find “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” particularly amusing.

Now, let me expand upon this a bit. I also do not picket funerals for deceased AIDS victims, I have never nailed a gay person to a snow fence, I find the entire notion of a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to be despicable in the extreme, and I’m a friggin’ actor, okay? Being a homophobe in the world of live theatre would go over about as well as being a child molester in a seminary! Erm… uh… okay, that doesn’t really work as well as I’d hoped, does it? All right, strike that. How about… an illiterate in the White House? Uh, well… no… let’s see… a drunk in the cockpit of a 747? Okay, now I’m just getting silly.

Screw it. I don’t have a problem with gay people (“OOO!!! Deniiiiiaaal!!!” came the murmur from the Offensophiles’ Union) and I’m certainly not a homophobe. I just have never found a great deal of amusement in Type-A people being all catty, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. And let’s face it, “Queer Eye” is basically about a bunch of catty men “fixing” a helpless, clueless bachelor and then getting all bitchy once he’s out of the room. It’s like a bad version of Pygmalion without the benefit of dancing Cockneys. At least ol’ ‘Enry ‘Iggins eventually came to realize what a horse’s ass he was for trying to “fix” Eliza Doolittle. The “Queer Eye” bunch just keeps on doing the same shit over and over again as long as the cameras roll and the checks keep coming.

The basic formula, from the episodes I’ve seen, seems to be this: Half a dozen or so gay men (stop pointing at me, Offensophiles, it’s right there in the goddamned SHOW TITLE!) take a guy who hasn’t shaved recently and tends to wear sweatshirts and drink beer, and drape his apartment in chintz and kitsch, fill his closet with enough shoes to make Imelda Marcos uncontrollably moist, get him a haircut that requires an entire drum of “hair product” (or, as I like to call it, “shit in your hair”) to maintain each day, teach him a few dance steps, and then send him on a date with his girlfriend… and then the aforementioned gay men sit there watching a video playback of the aforementioned date and hiss snobbily about how their aforementioned young charge isn’t anywhere near as hip as they believe themselves to be.

I don’t find this concept (or the actual execution of it) to be particularly chuckle-inducing, and so apparently this makes me a “homophobe”. No, actually it just makes me somebody who doesn’t like shitty TV unless there’s a good car chase involved.

I’ve also recently been informed, by a few different people, that I am a “metrosexual”. I’ve been a bit puzzled as to what exactly it is that I’m being called, of course, as I’ve heard this in several WIDELY varying contexts, making it nigh on impossible to specifically triangulate in on what they’re referring to. I’ve been called this by a guy in a John Deere baseball cap and a George W. Bush t-shirt, in such a way that he seemed to be using “metrosexual” to mean “city-fied, sissy-fied, communist nancy-boy”. I’ve been called this by a woman who seemed to be implying that I was “sensitive” enough to talk to, but she still wasn’t going to fuck me. I even had one person at a local watering hole call me a “metrosexual” based on the fact that I ordered a Sierra Nevada rather than a Budweiser.

I smell yet another faddish, obnoxious, excerebrose, soon-to-be-beaten-into-the-ground-by-mindless-marketing-drones-until-I- want-to-forceably-erase-it-from-the-collective-cultural-memory-before-I- throttle-the-next-person-to-reflexively-use-it-in-my-presence buzzword here. Kind of like the word “extreme”. I saw a commercial advertising “extreme home loans” a couple years back and thought, “Okay, this is the sign I’ve been waiting for. They’ve bled this asinine descriptor dry and in six months I’ll finally stop having to hear it applied to everything from sports drinks to bunion pads.” Sadly, I was mistaken.

I assume it will be much the same with “metrosexual”, and I’m tired of hearing the term already.

In the interest of figuring out just how many people are using this term erroneously, I did a bit of checking. Might as well get a solid definition, right? Because the implied meaning of the word “metrosexual”, when one just looks at it, would seem to be “one who is sexually attracted to urban areas.” In order to keep myself from having nightmare visions of my pitching a chub at the sight of the Sears Tower or a subway, I figure it’s not just a good idea to find a firm definition of the word… for the sake of my continued mental health, it’s an absolute necessity.

Well, my first stop, Merriam-Webster Online, turned up bupkis. They simply don’t have a definition for this. Okay, so we know it’s a made-up term. What a shocker, right? Further search of the Internet wasn’t much more help. There seem to be as many widely varying definitions of “metrosexual” out there as there are websites. I finally found one at a site called “AskMen.com” that looks as reasonably thorough as anything else I’ve seen out there, largely because it’s formatted with impressive, scholarly-looking bullet points.

Here, then, is what it is to be a “metrosexual”, as compiled (and bulleted!) by “AskMen.com”:

A METROSEXUAL…

  • is a modern, usually single man in touch with himself and his feminine side;
  • grooms and buffs his head and body, which he drapes in fashionable clothing both at work and before hitting an evening hotspot;
  • has discretionary income to stay up to date with the latest hairstyles, the newest threads, and the right shaped shoes;
  • confuses some guys when it comes to his sexuality;
  • makes these same guys jealous of his success with the ladies — for many metros, to interact with women is to flirt;
  • impresses the women who enjoy his company with the details that make the man;
  • Among them:

    • his appreciation for literature, cinema, or other arts
    • his flair for cooking
    • his savoir faire in choosing the perfect wine and music
    • his eye for interior design
  • is a city boy or, if living a commute away from downtown, is still urbane, if not rightly urban
  • enjoys reading men's magazines...
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Okay, well… we had a word for these guys way back in college. We called ‘em YUPPIES. (Actually, we just called ‘em lame-asses more often than not, but the official, to-their-face name was Yuppie.) Y’all remember the type… wore loafers with coins stuck in them (to this day I don’t understand what brought that on — buy a shoe and jam a coin in the tongue? Who always manages to dream up this dippy-ass shit, anyway?), walked around with pastel cardigans draped around their shoulders, put more mousse and hairspray in their coifs than the average waffle waitress in Tooth-Rot, Arkansas, and drove expensive sports cars that were basically Freudian complexes with power steering. Sounds a hell of a lot like the average definition of a “metrosexual”, doesn’t it?

So, apparently I, a long-haired slob of a Deadhead, am a Yuppie-By-Another-Name because I drink beer that doesn’t have a measurable formaldehyde content, because I can hold up my end of a conversation with a woman who doesn’t intend in a million years to reach for my fuck-nozzle, and because I don’t vote Republican or frequent NASCAR races. Actually, when it comes right down to it, I smell the moldering carrion stench of Marketing on this one. Two reasons for this: First off, it celebrates conspicuous consumption of high-ticket goods and services, which immediately raises some red flags, all of which have “Marketing Scheme” stamped across them. Secondly, what’s at the core of this entire thing? What’s nestled right in the center of that list up yonder? Same thing that’s used to hawk every other product and concept that could possibly be bought by a straight man…

“Chicks will dig it!”

Right there, you know that “metrosexual” is little more than a dressed-up version of the same marketing schemes that have been used to sell overpriced sports cars and cheap-ass beer and on and on ever since the first caveman picked up a stone and put a price tag on it before he threw it at his buddy’s head. I will say this: At least this particular marketing scheme attempts to package itself as “appreciation of quality”. Perhaps as an unintended consequence, some of this will actually rub off on people and the race for the bottom in every aspect of life will slow somewhat.

Aw, who am I kidding? Mediocrity is, as always, the clockwork by which this culture chugs along. It’s kinda like a bottomless plate of leftovers: It’s always there, it’s always a warmed-over, somewhat close to going rancid, always-know-what-to-expect plate of dreck. But it keeps the gullet working and the gut full, so nobody pays it much mind or tries to spruce it up at all.

And speaking of leftovers, reruns, and predictable responses, it’s official: Ralph “Captain Tweed” Nader has once again thrown his cap into the electoral ring, and true to form everyone is absolutely losing their shit over it. Once again (see Issue 6 for historical context here), I am personally being blamed for the debacle that is the Bush administration because I had the gall to actually cast a vote for the Tweedasaurus here in Cook County, Illinois… as if Al “I Agree With Governor Bush” Gore needed an extra Democratic vote in Chicago! Sorry folks, but I had at least three dozen corpses in Rose Hill Cemetery picking up the slack for me on that one, and I chose to Vote Tweed. Did I hold a plate of damp melba toast to Gore’s head and force him to run a campaign inept and uninspired enough to make both the Dukakis and the Fritz-N-Titz campaigns look like acts of political genius by comparison? Nope. Did I go down to Florida, steal Katherine Harris’ strap-on and threaten to give it to Hillary Clinton if she didn’t remove upwards of 50,000 registered Democrats from Florida’s voter rolls in her capacity as Secretary of State? Pretty sure I’d still be having nightmares if I’d done that.

No, I merely voted for a third-party candidate instead of voting for Little Wooden Boy, and somehow this was the electoral hinge upon which the Bush Cult’s success has maniacally swung for the past three years.

Now, fast-forward a few years, and lo and behold… El Tweedaroonie is back and causing Democrats across the country to launch into the most amusingly frantic conniptions imaginable. “Oh GAWD!!! He’s BACK, and he’s gonna ruin EVERYTHING!!! NONONONONONONONONO!!!” And again I, who was heretic enough to vote for him last time in a county which Al Gore had virtually no chance of losing, am once more hearing all about how I, personally, myself, by that specific act, “put George W. Bush in the White House.”

Were I more of a narcissist than I already am, I would pop right onto eBay and scare myself up an orb and scepter and some sort of rakish crown to reflect the absolute power that the Democrats with whom I am acquainted are lavishing upon me.

But, things being as they are, I am forced to take the high road and, instead, respond to the partisan cacophony putting this awful ringing in my ears with the following bit of sage advice:

STOP YER HOLLERING, YA MOTHER-MOUNTING TWITS!!!

Honestly, it’s getting way past time for this level of dipshittery. Steve “Ballpark Pariah” Bartman was more responsible for the Cubs being knocked out of the playoffs last year than the Tweedmeister was responsible for Gore losing the 2000 election — that is to say, not at all. Again, the problem was with the Gore campaign and with the acts of voter fraud committed by the Bush campaign and NOT with the fact that a third-party candidate got 2% of the national vote. Gore didn’t miss the catch because the moons of Jupiter got in his eyes at the last second. He missed because, quite frankly, he sucked. He didn’t even win his own home state… need we say more?

And so here we are, in the early part of 2004, and Mr. Tweedopoulous has sullied the heretofore calm electoral waters with his campaign announcement, as if there weren’t plenty more to talk about… namely, George W. Bush’s seemingly intentional meltdown of late. It doesn’t at all surprise me that his antics have begun to wear thin for an increasingly wide cross-section of the voting public, but what does surprise me is that he often seems to be trying to intentionally sabotage himself, often merely by opening his mouth, or by having one of his cronies open theirs instead. I mean, does anyone really believe that shipping thousands upon thousands of jobs overseas (or, to put it in soulless corporate parlance, “outsourcing”) somehow benefits people here in this country trying to find work? Does anyone not find it odiously callous to claim that minimum-wage fast-food jobs are actually “manufacturing” jobs? And yet, President Bush and his top economic adviser Gregory Mankiw are claiming both of these things. With so many people either being out of work entirely or scraping by on whatever shit jobs they can find, don’t these sorts of statements seem like the electoral equivalent of handing out wool sweaters in a burn ward?

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And then, there’s ol’ Shrubbie’s shining moment. His masterpiece of inflammatory leadership. His big ol’ honkin’ “FUCK YOU!” to all but the extreme far right. His open pledge of support for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (and, as the amendment seems to read, essentially banning most civil unions as well). What kind of thoughts go through this bozo’s mind, anyway? Clearly this is an attempt to force a socially-divisive issue into an election in which Bush really can’t run on his record and expect to win. Iraq is a pit of quicksand, Osama bin Laden is still at large (at least until the administration magically produces him in mid-September), the job crisis in this country is growing, and every time Bush makes a speech or gives an interview, his poll numbers drop. Clearly, it’s time to throw some blood in the water to try to distract everyone from his absolutely dismal performance as president. So, what does he do? He pulls out the fag-bashing card and tries to draw the Democrats into that whole mess. Wisely, John Kerry and the Democrats are sidestepping this issue for the moment, because quite frankly it’s not their issue. At least they seem to be smart enough on this one to not allow their opponents to choose their battles for them.

But it sure has the Religious Right all het up and frothing, doesn’t it? Between this and the new Mel Gibson movie, Jesus Christ: Beyond Thunderdome, the lobotomized bleating is rising to a fever pitch. Talk about enough is enough… these lunatics are getting WAY out of hand. It’s one thing to be a bigot (which these folks certainly are), but it’s something entirely different to insist that your bigotry be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. The claims these people are making are just un-fucking-real. Gay marriage will, according to these geniuses, apparently lead to the legal right to marry a Schnauzer. Gay marriage will suddenly cause straight marriages to spontaneously combust and everyone will just wake up one morning and find themselves divorced with no memory of how it came to pass other than that a guy with horns, a pointy beard, and a hot pink pitchfork was somehow behind it. I swear to God, if I hear one more melon-headed Christian tell me that a couple of gay people getting hitched is going to lay waste to all of Western civilization, I’m gonna start mailing ’em crudely-scrawled drawings of Jeebus getting a Dirty Sanchez from Judas Escariot... and LOVING it.

I mean, to be perfectly honest, I have about as much personal use for the whole gay sex thing as I have for olives. But some of my best friends like olives, so how the fuck am I gonna have a problem with somebody who digs olives, y’know? And on what parallel plane of raving narcissistic dementia am I gonna sit there and claim with anything resembling a straight face that, since I personally can’t abide olives, olive fans are going to rend the fabric of space and time unless they repent and start eating, for instance, grapes? It’s just mind-bogglingly infantile what these Christian dinks come up with to jam in people’s faces. And for what? Because nobody told these sorry-ass souls that bedtime stories were just happy horseshit to lull them to sleep at night so mommy and daddy could bang away in peace? Christ!

But somehow George W. Bush thinks that this is the issue that is crying out for attention at the moment… to champion the cause of right-wing bigotry with a Constitutional amendment. Now THAT’S homophobic. To anyone who would hang that label on somebody who doesn’t happen to find the gay television program du jour to be enjoyable enough to sit through more than about 10 minutes of, let’s start looking at actual homophobes rather than trying to see homophobia in every little nook and cranny where oftentimes it simply does not exist. By that same token, how about Democrats minding their own store and realizing that the only reason Ralph Nader had ANY effect on the 2000 election was that their own candidate screwed the pooch so badly during the campaign. Point at Gore’s inability to present a solid, consistent, honest public image and the fact that he refused to allow a sitting president who polled at over 70% while facing impeachment go out and stump for him. Point at the fact that the Florida Bush campaign chair was also Secretary of State, and she went out of her way to dump tens of thousands of legitimate (and mostly Democratic) voters from the state voter rolls via incredibly shady means. But get that sweaty little finger out of MY face about it already, willya?

As for the whole “metrosexual” thing, well… I must admit to being at a bit of a loss here. One cursory look at me and at my disaster area of an apartment would tend to put the kibosh on the notion that I’m anything resembling a “metrosexual”. However, I’m sure some wise guy will still try and call me a “metrophobe” for pointing this out. I don’t see why this would be much of a problem for anyone, though. Worst case scenario is, I happily, sloppily, remain a “metrophobe” for the rest of my days, leaving that much more “hair product” and that many more over-priced garments and body lotions for guys who give a rat’s ass about those things. Me, I’m just sitting here enjoying the “booming economy” brought about by all this overseas “outsourcing” and pondering a foray into the tried and true manufacturing trade. I understand that there’s a Subway up the road that’s hiring “sandwich manufacturers” for $6.50 an hour.

Saaaayyyy… I wonder what the underlying significance of the choice of the “Subway” restaurant chain to illustrate my point was, anyway? Could it be that I’m a “closet metro” after all?? Will they suddenly find me passed out drunk with my cock in the tailpipe of the Clark Street bus? Will I be busted for sitting across the street from the construction site of a new cracker-box condominium, furtively and frantically flogging my flounder at the sight of it? Will the fact that two gay fellows get married in New Paltz, New York, be the slippery slope that leads to my eventual exchange of nuptial vows with Buckingham Fountain??

Only if a leading marketing agency can convince me that “Chicks are going to dig it”. Otherwise, why waste the time, effort, and “hair product”?

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