“This summer the unvarying male uniform in the precincts of Brooklyn cool has been a pair of shorts cut at knickers length, a V-neck Hanes T-shirt, a pair of generic slip-on sneakers and a straw fedora. Add a leather cuff bracelet if the coolster is gay.
In truth this get-up was pretty much the unvarying male uniform last summer also, but this year an unexpected element has been added to the look, and that is a burgeoning potbelly one might term the Ralph Kramden.
Too pronounced to be blamed on the slouchy cut of a T-shirt, too modest in size to be termed a proper beer gut, developed too young to come under the heading of a paunch, the Ralph Kramden is everywhere to be seen lately, or at least it is in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene, the McCarren Park Greenmarket and pretty much any place one is apt to encounter fans of Grizzly Bear.”
– The New York Times, August 12th, 2009.
My name is Dennis. And I am a hipster. At least I thought I was.
For the majority of my twenties, which seems like an eternity at five years now, I have done everything I can to avoid being cool in order to get people to notice me. I have failed miserably.
It’s getting harder and harder to stay ironic. And I feel like just giving up.
I have worn chain wallets and women’s pants, had beards and moustaches, and have made the switch to macrobiotics and raw food diets. The amount of money I’ve spent on overpriced second-hand flannel has put me severely in debt. My head has seen more hairstyles in the last five years than a Glamour Shots in Peoria, Illinois.
And now, just when I thought I was up to date on what is not cool but actually cool as long as you don’t call it that, this whole fat thing comes around. Apparently, being slightly overweight is now what I have to do in order to look like I don’t care.
So with all my might, I will develop a potbelly, a baby bump, and portray it by wearing a T-shirt that is slightly too small, so that my Buddha belly pokes out above my waist line and is just barely visible to those I am trying to act like I don’t want to notice me.
If this doesn’t work, it’s over. If I fail this time, and don’t achieve true apathetic bliss, I will give in to my massive desire to wear a polo and a crisp pair of slacks. This I vow to you.
For the next few weeks I will share my journal with you, so that you can see my process, and so someone can publish it in my biography some day after I achieve fame and die in a plane crash.
Dropped the whole vegan thing. That’ll never work if I want to develop the roundness I’m looking for. Have changed my diet to Popeye’s Chicken and Hometown Buffet. Had a small ethical crisis for my once strongly held stance on “what one should put in their body,” but quickly extinguished it with a third helping of spare ribs. I’m off craft beers, and back on copious amounts of PBR, 20 of which cost the price of one craft beer. I think beer might be the key.
Nice small gut, but nowhere close to where I want to be. If a flannel-clad lumberjack was my previous style informant, then is a pregnant mom early in her second trimester my current inspiration? This is all so confusing.
Looking good, but I’m having a much harder time getting up the stairs to my apartment. Have reignited my childhood love for Mountain Dew.
Hope acne is in, because I sure have a lot of it. The cost of establishing a positive self-image is priceless. I’ve heard of a few guys who are shaving their potbellies to give the look a nice gleam. Think I’ll try that.
I cut the hell out of my stomach when I was shaving it last week. That sucked. Remember the Pregnant Man from a little while back? I look like that guy if he got shivved in prison. But I really think I’m making an impression in public.
Have a great looking gut but have fallen behind the curve. Let me drop some knowledge: Summer trends, like the potbelly, seem to be based on indulgence and bright colors, whereas fall is more introspective and brings in beiges and browns and muted yellows. Apparently there is a new trend that is sweeping the Borough and parts of Portland and quickly supplanting the potbelly. That trend? Jaundice. I ran into some people who were saying they saw some band “all yellowed-out and jaundiced” and that they were “brilliantly ironic.” This is all a little strange to me because I thought jaundice was a disease. And I looked it up and it is. It’s a disease. It’s a disease where you turn yellow. So I’m not really sure what to think of that but apparently you can get it through cirrhosis of the liver.
Two ways to get cirrhosis of the liver: 1) genes, 2) binge drinking. I’m hoping for a combo of both, and I’ve already got the drinking thing going with the beer so I’ll just keep that up.
Done with the potbelly and attempting to achieve an authentic yet responsible case of jaundice. Maybe I’ll luck out and get some liver spots in the process.
OK, so first its like “cholesterol is so hot right now” and then its like “jaundice is the only way to be relevant” and then its like “you’re nobody if you don’t have smoker’s cough” and I’m all like “what the hell?” You know? How am I supposed to feel about all this?
Good week. I’ve got a great gut, a nice full beard, and a good yellowish hue going on. I’m in a sort of existential funk, though. I can’t really seem to form a lucid thought and I feel really weak. I thought that a little transcendentalism might fix that and considered going camping but then quickly realized that I don’t know how to set up a tent. And I don’t know where you’d go camping around here. I’m from the suburbs of Milwaukee and we never really went camping. Decided to listen to a bunch of Nick Drake instead.
Some teenage girls saw me and freaked out and then giggled and called me a zombie the other day on the street. It felt nice to be noticed for a while but it stirred more questions than answers.
Hospice care is nice, but boy, it sure would be nice to have an English-speaking nurse. Guess I’ll lay off the “latest trend following” until I’m healthy again. But I’ll definitely stick with it for the long run. Giving up the battle to remain ironic would mean selling out, and that’s one thing I swore I’d never do unless it paid well.
If I learned anything through this experience, it’s that if you’re trying to be cool by not being cool, or at least subconsciously attempting to not be cool, or pretending to be not cool in order to be cool, it would be cool to at least act like you are unaware of all that is cool but at some level have a deep obsession for that which could be considered cool, just in case someone asks you to become famous.
It is this potentiality for cool that makes one cooler. And of course this can only be found within your perfect-inner-famous-self. At least this is what you will tell yourself while you secretly look outward, with your eyes, and develop an idea of what is cool through the world around you. Just push away the objectivity of your inner confusion. Ignorance is bliss and can come off as totally hip. Especially when it doesn’t take a shower in order to preserve bed head.