Thursday, September 23, 2010

sorry i'm not sorry for barfing all over your sperrys

You may be familiar with Lisa Birnbach, because in the 80s she wrote a slightly mocking but mostly serious douche-guide called "The Original Preppy Handbook". It's kind of funny, but not enough to distract you from the stark realization that many, many people use it almost biblically.

Recently, Birnbach has put out a "sequel" to the Handbook called "True Prep", (add-in subtitle: "How to Dress like an Asshole in the 21st Century"). Why anyone cares to have TWO books about wearing polo shirts and having the preppiest breed of dog (yes, she covers that) I do not know, but they do.

The Washington Post published a piece in today's paper about Birnbach and her new book.

(Here's the link to the full article)

A few excerpts that left my mouth hanging open:

"Last week, Birnbach came to D.C. to talk up "True Prep," on which she collaborated with designer Chip Kidd. At Georgetown's pastel shrine Vineyard Vines, 250 groupies clad in country-club best -- plus Mack, a Jack Russell in a plaid collar -- lined up. They politely sipped spiked Arnold Palmers while waiting for an audience with her. Many college students carried tattered copies of the original "OPH," as they like to call it, snagged from their parents; virtually all were in proper regalia, from pink polo shirts to needlepoint belts with oars."

"Are you wearing socks?" Birnbach asked J.C. McDonough, 48, from Baltimore. "My people don't wear socks." McDonough hitched up his khakis to show bare ankles sticking out of his Alden loafers. "No ma'am," he said.

First of all, gross. Second of all, people lined up to meet this woman so they could prove their preppiness to her. What?! She has to be partially kidding about this entire thing, and I have a very strong feeling most of her followers are blissfully unaware there is any kind of jest in the Lacoste cult. You know, because country clubs are a really relevant issue in America during a crippling economic depression. Perfect timing for a book about how to properly act like a rich person!

As a third generation Washingtonian, this is my favorite, favorite quote from the article. Ooo! I just love it:
"Washington had a major role in the writing of "OPH." Birnbach snagged a summer internship here in 1977 and discovered that the prep-o-meter ran very high. "I found something here unlike anything I had seen anywhere else," Birnbach says. "Everyone had the attitude, 'I am on the make this summer, and if I don't wear my Wharton baseball cap and my Dartmouth running shorts when I go to the Social Safeway, I don't have a chance.' "
I'm sorry, what? Pretty sure I feel like I have a "chance" at the Social Safeway without wearing college sweats. Are they going to deny me groceries without proving my secondary education? When I'm trying to purchase hummus, wheat thins and 2-for-1 Progresso soup (I'M POOR.), I really don't care how obvious it is I went to college. In fact, I'd rather you not know, considering most of my friends and I are practically unemployed and/or not using our really preppy and expensive college degrees... and buying hobo food.

I think I'm going to keep wearing socks and avoid athlete's foot, even if it means I won't be joining the prep elite. But I have to keep in mind, when I question this lifestyle, the response given by the late Patrick Bateman: "Because I want to fit in."

Friday, September 10, 2010

notes on a post graduate, one year later.

Considering it is now September, many familiar feelings seem to seep back in when the blistering heat of a DC summer finally starts to fade: A sense of relief that you no longer feel like your body is entirely suffocating, simply from having skin. An urgency to cram as many last-minute barbeques and blithe summery activities into each of your weekends before they are smothered out by mean Father Winter. A dominant inclination to wear earth tones. A pressing desire to consume harvesty food and drink. A resolute quest for coziness.

As the school year starts up again, and old memories of shopping for college essentials (and probably a multicolored octopus-armed lamp for your dorm room) start to surface, many of us are abruptly shaken out of these reflections only to realize that it has now been a full year (and few months) since we ended our happy, somewhat careless, and very drunk stints as co-eds.

Some of us got real jobs, and sold our souls to the professional world right away. Maybe you went to an Ivy League, and got recruited to a top consulting firm that ensured your financial stability and simultaneous crushing of your soul. Maybe one of your parents had a friend that slipped you in the door of a company, where you will constantly be aware you could have never gotten a job there based on your actual qualifications. Or maybe, just maybe, you're one of the rest of us.

We are stragglers, drifters, nomads. We work at spas, gyms, restaurants, bars, and boutiques. We are still the nightlife and the glory of youth, because we are searching for meaning and having fun. And we still live with our parents, who are starting to get pissed, and really sick of us eating their food and chilling on their couch.

The idea of moving home after college until we got settled seemed fine for a time. We didn't have to pay rent and we had the comforts of home and stability of family while we peddled ourselves to the work world. But after we realized LinkedIn was just boring Facebook, or our internships never turned into real jobs, we scoured Craig's List looking for service industry positions and inevitably got them. Why wouldn't we? We have degrees and personalities prepped for success! We have energy and spirit! Work didn't start until 5 pm! And it was fun! We got to work with cool people, just like us, and our money went right into our pockets... for like a second before we whipped it out again at the bar and got hammered on a Tuesday.

Now, as I approach the anniversary of pouring iced tea and not having done anything truly productive in a full year, I have started to form some thoughts and ask myself some big questions, and I will list them here for general consideration:

  • Why haven't my parents kicked me out yet?
  • Why do I still think it's alright to sleep until 11:30 on a week day?
  • WHY is my bank account empty when I have no real financial obligations other than my student loan payment and going out to eat daily?
  • What is the average time frame for "making something of yourself"? Is that even a real thing?
  • How long can I avoid health insurance before something small becomes really life-threatening?
  • Am I ever going to the dentist again?
  • Will I ever wear a suit to work?
  • Can someone please reboost the job-seeking confidence I had when I graduated?
  • Is blogging a conceivable potential career?

Thoughts and Theories of 2010
  • Restaurant beverage lemons are disgusting, germ-ridden wedges of filth.
  • Please do not let your child talk to me that way.
  • No, I don't know why your food is taking so long. That is why I'm waiting on you and not in the back cooking it, you jackass.
  • When you ask for ranch dressing to drown your food in, I think less of you. Much less.
  • Not paying your parking tickets is a bad, bad, progressively money-losing idea.
  • I should have gone to a less expensive college.
  • Making out with your coworker at happy hour and having to face him/her at work the next day is SO much more awkward than just having to see them across the room in class.