Monday, May 09, 2005

Gay or European or Republican?

I was in my dry cleaners a couple of days ago. The guy in front of me was dropping off his clothes, a large component of which was an array of pastel button-down shirts. He was wearing one of those striped pastel belts found in JCrew catalogs and worn generally only within 5 miles of a country or yacht club, his hair was reminiscent of a neater Tucker Carlson 'do, and he had the kind of "doughy" look that says "I drink lots of beer with my buddies while watching Ole Miss football games." It's that "not-fat-but-affluent" doughy look that most young 'Pubs have. I chuckled to a friend later that I could tell within 1 minute which way he swung politically.

My friend and I decided that we should create a game along the lines of "Gay or European?" for identifying 'Pubs. For those readers not familiar with "Gay or European," it generally occurs spontaneously upon seeing a man with, say, red shoes, tight pants, and various other avant garde or tightly-fitting clothing that your American husband or dad or whomever would not know existed as a fashion garment, much less would wear. Invariably, men who wear these clothes are either Gay or European, and it is your job to guess which it is when you see them. It's all in good, clean, good-natured fun. If you live in Boise, perhaps this will not be the game for you. But here in DC, it can spontaneously erupt at any time due to the presence of many gay men and many tourists. It also works as a drinking game at a sidewalk happy hour, fyi.

Along those same lines, we decided we should play a similar game with "Republican or Democrat?" Allowing for the fact that there are red herrings, as I was in grad school (can you say "a string of Tricia Nixon pearls with every outfit"?), it is still a shockingly easy game to play. Your cue that a young guy is a 'Pub? Copious pastel button down shirts. Striped canvas belts. "Penny loafers" which have not been in style for people under 40 since I was a college sophomore, except in Waspynapolis USA. The "paunch" that says "I eat and drink well, but chicks will still hook up with me. I'm chunky because I'm affluent, not because I'm poor and eating government cheese over hamburger helper."

{See the photos below for examples}

The men are easier to spot than the women. Here in DC, it seems that most of the young women on the Hill dress alike, almost all quite inappropriately, in terms of both decolletage and bare leg exhibition. The kind of outfits that get you ON The Apprentice, but get you fired within 4 weeks because someone will protest, "This person is going to be running one of your companies, Mr. Trump! She can't look like that!" The chicks on the Hill have yet to figure that out. It gets you the internship, most likely gets you the hook up with a rotating panel of Pastel Shirt Doughboys, but truly doesn't get you taken seriously anywhere. I cringe every time I see one of them walking to work dressed like a high-rent Erin Brockovich..or perhaps a low-rent Jenna Bush (but I repeat myself!).

Anyhoo, I highly recommend playing a game of "Pub or Dem" the next time you have a free moment. I personally love it, being that I live not too far from the Heritage Foundation building housed in the majestically-named Ronald Reagan Republican Center, where a daily carload of young intern doughboys and JennaWannaBes pile out of their BMW SUVs to make their pilgrimage to the GOP mecca of meccas. Every now and again you will get one wrong (as many of my classmates did with me and my Tricia Nixon pearls; I clearly did not receive the memo that Dems are not supposed to wear pearls with sweater sets and instead should sport some kind of hemp garment or a Rage Against the Machine shirt). But for the most part, if you find yourself looking at a doughy twentysomething guy wearing more pastel than my mother and not seeming at all sheepish about it, you know which way to make the call.


misterfed said...

Wow! Throw in some digs at the Aussies and, like, Surinam or something and I think you've succeeded in a blog post that's catty towards every continental, political, and sexual preference. Now that's blogging!

E said...

Wow. I must be catty at heart since there was no cattiness intended (except for the GOP doughboy stuff)!

I happen to love stylish gay men, though less so Europeans. ;)

misterfed said...

Well, maybe I'm just sensitive about these things, being a gay Surinamese Republican who is allergic to pastels.