By Chris Gethard
Today I came one mouse click away from ordering hair product over the internet. I am glad I re-gained my grip on sanity before plunging over that cliff.
As soon as I x’d out the browser window, I came back to my senses. Realizing that I was panting and in a cold sweat, I had one thought go through my brain: “I’m wearing a t-shirt with holes in it and twenty dollar jeans. I live in Astoria and I regularly bite my fingernails. There is absolutely no way that I’m a Metrosexual.”
I have nothing against Metrosexuals per se, although becoming one is something I have never had a desire to do. This is not due to any masculinity or gender issues. Instead, I feel like caring about my appearance that much would shred to pieces the last vestiges of the punk rock attitude and working class ethics that I like to claim make me who I am.
There was a time when not only would I not even go to a web page about hair products, I wouldn’t even consider drinking bottled water. Up until three years ago, I considered anyone with a cell phone to be a sell-out poser. At some point all of this changed. My cell phone is on my desk next to me. I check it for messages every three to five minutes, convincing myself there was a chance I didn’t hear it ring and someone left a voice mail for me. On my right is a bottle of Evian. Not Deer Park or even Poland Spring. In such a short time I went from criticizing the institution of bottled water to regularly partaking in its worse offering.
If the pimply faced pubescent me could have seen into its own future and realized that some day he would be sweating it out over which website would afford him the opportunity to save thirty cents on a 3.5 ounce bottle of KMS Thickening Paste, he probably would have ended it all in a blaze of teenage punk rock glory right then.
There’s a ton of pressure on guys in their 20s and 30s these days. We were easily the most affected by the grunge movement, as that pop culture tidal wave occurred when we were in our impressionable tweens and teens. We got used to the idea that cool was synonymous with “unkempt,” that fashionable equaled “kind of dirty,” and that sexy was the same thing as “by all means, go with that ratty eighth grade facial hair look.”
Now, as a clear backlash to the attitudes we learned during our adolescence, females of our generation are demanding higher standards than any of our fathers faced. In the past few years I have become conditioned to know that I should never wear white sneakers, that nothing in my closet should be baggy anymore, and that pleated pants are a definite no-no in all circumstances (although to be fair, I probably should have realized that one much sooner on my own). My hair is consistently well groomed, my backpack has been replaced by a messenger bag, and my glasses went from wire rim to Buddy Holly style plastic.
Is this all part of growing up, or part of selling out just to please girls? At the very least, I didn’t spend the summer walking around wearing a pale pink button down shirt. That was all the rage among Metrosexuals this past season. I’m no fashion critic, but I do have the somewhat misogynistic pride of a man raised in Northern New Jersey, and just the sight of these pieces of apparel gave me the exact same feeling as seeing a dog in an embroidered sweater—that feeling of “I don’t know who dressed you up or how their well intentioned efforts to make you cute went so wrong, but man you look douchey right now.” My feeling was borne not out of homophobia, but of hopelessness. I know that if the pink shirt trend continues, I will eventually buckle under its weight and get one. Why? Because clearly women want that, and like the rest of my brethren, I am a slave to their whims.
I pray for the day when guys can wear stained t-shirts, and not ironic hipster thrift store t’s—old ratty baggy ones like our dads wore while building shit in the back yard—and it will be accepted as a commendable fashion choice. I’m not saying this is in any way better than a pink shirt, but I pray that some day it will be viewed as equal. The civil rights of unkempt male culture have lessened considerably in the past five years. We are not allowed to show our true selves, lest we be punished with social and sexual isolation. I’m going to take a stand and do something about it.
That’s right, I’m not going to dress, smell, or think any differently because of what women want from me anymore. I pledge to you, my fellow non-Metro males, I will never even think about purchasing KMS thickening paste online again! From now on I will walk right into the overpriced French salon where I pay forty dollars per haircut and spend fifteen dollars at the counter like a classic American male should.