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May 19, 2004

Email Humor -- Retrosexuals

Dear Friedrich --

Apologies for slow, er, nonexistent posting in recent days. I had my first real writing assignment in a few years and was surprised to find that blogging hasn't made on-assignment writing easier than it used to be. Instead it's become harder.

Why should this be so? I suspect it's because of the freeform and easy nature of blogging. The writer gets used to having it his way. If one topic isn't working out, it couldn't be easier to slide over and yak about another one instead. Who's the wiser? Blogging length, of course, and for better or worse, is whatever you want it to be. And the blogpublishing process involves nothing more than clicking a button or two. Back in the real world of pro writing, topics and deadlines are given, lengths are dictated, and -- yuck -- there's often editing involved. Lordy, who wants to put up with that?

I guess I'm plain spoiled these days. Blogging has turned writing into a form of self-indulgence -- just what I always wanted it to be -- and my attitude has become bratty and hard to control. If I can't have things exactly my way, then why should I bother at all?

Nonetheless, by dint of heroic efforts I pulled through these grownup tribulations and have reverted once again to being a happy and egomaniacal baby. Look out, world: MBlowhard is back in the playpen -- and he's ready to coo, drool and romp.

Are you the fan of email jokes that I am? I take email jokes as an electronic-era form of folk art, and am dazzled by some. The work, the cleverness, the tuned-in-ness, the un-PC-ness: good lord, what's not to love?

This one, sent along by The Wife's very brawny personal trainer, is a reaction against the "Metrosexual" vogue. Have you been too busy with real life to bump into the Metrosexual? It's a term invented to describe straight men who have the more refined attributes of gay men. They fuss over themselves, they're cultured and body-conscious, they know how to ... Well, I'm not sure, really. I'm too butch to know, I guess. Metrosexuals, in any case, are said to be ever so Fab Five-ish, only they like sleeping with women. It's the latest cyber-era thing: men released from the traditional burdens of being male, and now free to float in blissfully narcissistic and solipsistic self-bemusement. This represents an advance, if I understand the argument correctly.

Here's a semi-official definition of "Metrosexual." Here's the joke email:


"If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
--General G.S.Patton


Ok folks, I have had it. I've taken all I can stand and I can't stand no more. Every time my TV is on, all that can be seen is effeminate men prancing about, redecorating houses and talking about foreign concepts like "style" and "feng shui." Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, trans-sexual, metrosexual, non-sexual; blue, green, and purple-sexual.

Bogus definitions have taken over the urban and suburban world!

Real men of the world, stand up, scratch your butt, belch, and yell "ENOUGH!"

I hereby announce the start of a new offensive in the culture wars, the Retrosexual movement.

The RetroSexual Code:

A Retrosexual does not let neighbors screw up rooms in his house on national TV.

A Retrosexual, no matter what the women insists, PAYS FOR THE DATE.

A Retrosexual opens doors for a lady. Even for the ones that fit that term only because they are female.

A Retrosexual DEALS with IT. Be it a flat tire, break-in into your home, or a natural disaster, you DEAL WITH IT.

A Retrosexual not only eats red meat, he often kills it himself.

A Retrosexual doesn't worry about living to be 90. It's not how long you live, but how well. If you're 90 years old and still smoking cigars and drinking, I salute you.

A Retrosexual does not use more hair or skin products than a woman. Women have several supermarket aisles of stuff. Retrosexuals need an end cap(possibly 2 end caps if you include shaving goods.)

A Retrosexual does not dress in clothes from Hot Topic when he's 30 years old.

A Retrosexual should know how to properly kill stuff (or people) if need be. This falls under the "Dealing with IT" portion of The Code.

A Retrosexual watches no TV show with "Queer" in the title.

A Retrosexual should not give up excessive amounts of manliness for women. Some is inevitable, but major re-invention of yourself will only lead to you becoming a froo-froo little puss, and in the long run, she isn't worth it.

A Retrosexual is allowed to seek professional help for major mental stress such as drug/alcohol addiction, death of your entire family in a freak tree chipper accident, favorite sports team being moved to a different city, or favorite bird dog expiring, etc. You are NOT allowed to see a shrink because Daddy didn't pay you enough attention to you. Daddy was busy DEALING WITH IT. When you screwed up, he DEALT with you.

A Retrosexual will have at least one outfit in his wardrobe designed to conceal himself from prey.

A Retrosexual knows how to tie a Windsor knot when wearing a tie -- and ONLY a Windsor knot.

A Retrosexual should have at least one good wound he can brag about getting.

A Retrosexual knows how to use a basic set of tools. If you can't hammer a nail, or drill a straight hole, practice in secret until you can -- or be rightfully ridiculed for the wuss you be.

A Retrosexual knows that owning a gun is not a sign that your are riddled with fear, guns are TOOLS and are often essential to DEAL WITH IT. Plus it's just plain fun to shoot.

Crying. There are very few reason that a Retrosexual may cry, and none of them have to do with TV commercials, movies, or soap operas. Sports teams are sometimes a reason to cry, but the preferred method of release is swearing or throwing the remote control. Some reasons a Retrosexual can cry include (but are not limited to) death of a loved one death of a pet (fish do NOT count as pets in this case) loss of a major body part.

A Retrosexual man's favorite movie isn't "Maid in Manhattan" (unless that refers to some foxy French maid sitting in a huge tub of brandy or whiskey), or "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." Acceptable ones may include any of the Dirty Harry or Nameless Drifter movies (Clint in his better days), Rambo I or II, the Dirty Dozen, The Godfather trilogy, Scarface, The Road Warrior, The Die Hard series, Caddyshack, Rocky I, II, or III, Full Metal Jacket, any James Bond Movie, Raging Bull, Bullitt, any Bruce Lee movie, Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas, Reservoir Dogs, Fight Club,etc .

When a Retrosexual is on a crowded bus and or a commuter train, and a pregnant woman, hell, any woman gets on, that Retrosexual stands up and offers his seat to that woman, then looks around at the other so-called men still in their seats with a disgusted "you punks" look on his face.

A Retrosexual knows how to say the Pledge properly, and with the correct emphasis and pronunciation. He also knows the words to "The Star Spangled Banner."

A Retrosexual will have hobbies and habits his wife and mother do not understand, but that are essential to his manliness, in that they offset the acceptable manliness decline he suffers when married/engaged in a serious healthy relationship -- i.e., hunting, boxing, shot putting, shooting, cigars, car maintenance.

A Retrosexual knows how to sharpen his own knives and kitchen utensils.

A Retrosexual man can drive in snow (hell, a blizzard) without sliding all over or driving under 20 mph, without anxiety, and without high-centering his ride on a plow berm.

A Retrosexual man can chop down a tree and make it land where he wants. Wherever it lands is where he damn well wanted it to land.

A Retrosexual will give up his seat on a bus to not only any women but any elderly person or person in military dress (except officers above 2nd Lt (Ensign for you sailors ;-)). NOTE: The person in military dress may turn down the offer but the Retrosexual man will ALWAYS make the offer to them and thank them for serving their country.

A Retrosexual man doesn't need a contract -- a handshake is good enough. He will always stand by his word even if circumstances change or the other person deceived him.

A Retrosexual man doesn't immediately look to sue someone when he does something stupid and hurts himself. We understand that sometimes in the process of doing things we get hurt and we just DEAL WITH IT.

Quick Blowhard review: I like the Patton quote and the DEAL WITH IT refrain, and I thought the tree-chipper was a really inspired touch. Demerits, though, for using a smiley emoticon. I'm amused and sympathetic generally, though unsure how high I score on the Retrosexual scale myself. Pssst: what's an "end cap"?

At Amazon, I find three books with "Metrosexual" in the title: here, here and here. I don't see any yet with "Retrosexual" in the title.



posted by Michael at May 19, 2004


"End cap" -- If you have to ask, you're probably a Retrosexual.

Posted by: Laurence Aurbach on May 19, 2004 06:37 PM

"End caps" are the short shelves perpendicular to the long aisles of shelves in supermarkets.

Personally, I think knowing what an "end cap" is calls into question your retrosexuality, unless, like me, you were a quant jock for a marketing research company.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on May 19, 2004 07:14 PM

I'm amused and sympathetic generally, though unsure how high I score on the Retrosexual scale myself.

Can you qualify as a Retrosexual if you do weekly Bikram yoga? Maybe you're actually a repressed Metrosexual...

Posted by: Mark Dellelo on May 19, 2004 07:25 PM

Steve Sailer: "Personally, I think knowing what an "end cap" is calls into question your retrosexuality, unless, like me, you were a quant jock for a marketing research company."

You mean to tell me that all those shelf stockers at the local supermarket and retail clerks in the mall are metrosexuals? It really is the trend of the year.

You might be a metrosexual if ...

you work the graveyard shift at King Soopers for $8.00 per hour?

Posted by: Doug Sundseth on May 19, 2004 07:39 PM

I like demerits for the smiley emoticom. I think the chopping-down-a-tree and killing-his-own-red-meat thing makes retrosexuals highly more populous in rural America. (I think he also should have noted that they drive pick up trucks and not BMW's). I don't think many retrosexuals live in New York.

Posted by: annette on May 19, 2004 07:56 PM

Oh, good lord no: I'm apparently a man in conflict with my Metrosexuality! Please, let's keep this a secret from the Wife. Although, come to think of it, she may know already ...

Hey, anyone for Bikram?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 19, 2004 10:58 PM

Bingo, Annette!

For the last 3 days I happened to attend lots of after-hours reception/presentation/trade appreciation [whatever you'd call it] parties in NY design & architect community; actually, it's been one long party with short breaks for work and some sleep.
And all attending males blended into this one image - face as if drawn by Beardsley, silk shirt, tight trousers, $400 Italian shoes, guiltily asking ME for a cigarette in short outdoor breakes.
Don't get me wrong, I love the chit-chat and Saphire cocktails and kissing (twice, twice - I get it, Jan) when splitting, and Mikele-you were fabulous, baby [as was your Rome competition entry, I'm sure]

But I miss the variety...

Posted by: Tatyana on May 19, 2004 11:02 PM

Michael, if you are looking for information on Retrosexual, you may want to google "Redneck" instead. Out here in flyover country, they abound.

My additions to the definition after living with one for 19 years:

A Retrosexual does not wear aftershave. Perfume is for girls.

A Retrosexual eats meat and potatoes. Period. Vegetables are corn and if cooked correctly, carrots. Everything else is rabbit food. Dessert consists of pie and cake. Period.

A Retrosexual greets every boy who is remotely interested in his daughter with his rifle in his hand, preferably with his hand gun in his belt.

A Retrosexual will be on death's door before he goes to the doctor. However, when the Wife has a minor sniffle, he nags constantly for her to GO TO THE DOCTOR.

A Retrosexual does not want to hear about hot flashes, periods, or mammograms. The whole idea gives him the heebie jeebies.

A Retrosexual wears T-shirts with a V neck because the crew neck sort chafe his neck hair.

A Retrosexual explains the concept of Clean Dirt to his wife who has just spent twelve hours scrubbing the house down and is fussing because he didnt blow the wood chips off before coming in for a house.

A Retrosexual does not drink bottled water. He does, however, admire the guy who thought up bottling something you can get from the tap for free and selling it to wussy folks.

A Retrosexual does not exercise. That is for wussy folks who dont WORK.

A Retrosexual, if left alone with a 9 month old infant, will feed it kippered sardines, hard boiled eggs, soda crackers and olives and then wonder why the kid has a belly ache all night, not to mention really nasty diapers.

A Retrosexual will make snotty comments about gay folks and then go down and help the gay neighbor on the next farm fix his lawnmower in 90 degree heat and share a beer with him afterward. He then will go back and try to cheer him up after the gay neighbor's lover moved out on him. Retrosexual's are not all bad.

A Retrosexual drives a pick up that is blue, green or red. Any other color is for wussy, girly guys. He would, however, not complain if someone dropped off a Jag in British Racing Green because Jags are sexy.

A Retrosexual asks for either an arc welder or a air compresser for Father's Day.

In Wisconsin, a Retrosexual is a Packer Fan. Anyone who likes Da Bears or worse, Da Vikings are wussy. They do not wear Packer colors or anything with the Packer logo on it, however. That is for wussy guys.

Finally, a Retrosexual leaves all that macho crap outside the bedroom. There they turn into sensitive guys. However, they will NEVER admit it and will turn the conversation to wood chippers, trucks or power tools if the subject comes up.

Posted by: Deb on May 20, 2004 09:17 AM

May all my men be retrosexuals, bless 'em. Local country radio stations here broadcast a daily funny called "Earl Pitts,Uhmerikun!" It may be syndicated, I don't know. Earl is a rednecked retrosexual. I would argue that redneck is just a subspecies of retrosexual americanas. For a laugh visit:

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on May 20, 2004 10:36 AM

How about a post on British men, who have had the Metrosexual thing going to some extent (although without all the hair products) since before it had a name? I think contrasting British vs. American men could be almost as interesting as your posts on French vs. American women.

Posted by: Nate on May 20, 2004 11:13 AM

Deb -- That's a better list than the original! And I'm relieved to see that I qualify on at least a couple of your Retrosexual points. A British-racing-green Jag would be mighty nice.

Pattie -- Earl sounds like a real man. I'll be checking his site out, thanks.

Nate -- You mean, not all British men are gay? Hmm.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 20, 2004 11:37 AM

For a real retrosexual, Howard Stern is falling down funny, no ifs ands or but(t)s!!

Posted by: ricpic on May 21, 2004 10:02 AM

I did chuckle at the retrosexual business, but I am also aware that it's kind of funny for M. Blowhard or I to empathize with them *too much*. We may not have much in common with the metros, but we have even less in common with the retros (save for political issues - culturally, it's a yawning chasm). The stereotypical retros isn't interested in, say, architecture, mathematics, or capitalism-as-economic-theory, for example.

In other words: I, at least, am a metrocon - much more economically right-wing than socially right-wing. I believe Friedrich and Michael are as well. While I am sympathetic to rural and religious conservatives in that they are also "men of the right" and part of the big tent, I think it's kind of funny to set them up as the "ideal man". I'll take them over a Chomskyite any day, of course...yet there should also be a place for the Wall Street tycoon and the Silicon Valley technocrat, who are neither rural retros nor preening urban metros.

Posted by: gc_emeritus on May 21, 2004 01:41 PM

The stereotypical retros isn't interested in, say, architecture, mathematics, or capitalism-as-economic-theory, for example.

Au contraire, mon frere.

Architecture is nothing but designing the best way to build big things. Of course, it can get kind of foofy, but things like the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Texas State Fair buildings -- that's some good work we appreciate.

You can't make a solid chiffarobe or wire up a new barn or fell a nuisance tree or, perhaps most importantly, calculate pot odds and implied odds for your flush draw without some good math.

Capitalism is not a theory, sir -- it is pure red-meat American (and hence, retrosexual.)

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on May 21, 2004 03:39 PM

Whew, the testosterone fumes are growing mighty thick in here!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 21, 2004 03:57 PM


"au contraire, mom frere" automatically disqualifies you as a Retrosexual.

I will agree with you on the rest of it tho. The Retrosexual I live with sees architecture as Really Big Building Projects using Really Big Power Tools.

Posted by: Deb on May 21, 2004 04:45 PM

Deb, engineers are not architects.
Familiar With Both

Posted by: Tatyana on May 21, 2004 05:07 PM


You've got one up on me--I'm only familiar with the engineer part. Of course, he was a machinist for 10 years before he became an engineer so the whole Retrosexual thing is just part of the educated package.

He still sees architecture as Really Big Building Projects using Really Big Power Tools.

Deb ;o)

Posted by: Deb on May 21, 2004 09:15 PM

Am I still disqualified if I didn't mention my dear mother in my comment?

I agree with your POSSLQ, Deb. Architecture is not divans and hassocks and buffets. It's big things, built by big people. Once it's built, the rest is naught but frippery that changes at the whim of the facconables.

That's just some Italian word I heard somewhere that seemed to fit. If there aren't facconables running around in square-toed ugly shoes, well...there need to be.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on May 22, 2004 01:28 AM

Ok, so I cant type! The guy I live with was DEALING WITH his carpal tunnel and bought us a split ergonomic keyboard. Normally that is for wussy, nerdey guys who cant DEAL WITH it but he learned all about the engineering involved in his wrists and decided this was the coolest POWER TOOL around for it.

No offense to your dear Mother, who obviously raised a nice Retrosexual boy, even if he does slip Frenchy phrases into his conversations. ;o)

Posted by: Deb on May 22, 2004 06:44 AM

I'm sorry, but you have the completely incorrect view of what Metrosexual really means.

Metrosexual males know how to use tools, open doors for ladies, and pay for dates.

They also know how to tie ties, know their bowtie knots, and they also enjoy working on cars, etc. The difference is that metrosexual males know how to use more than "orange clean" to get grease out of their hands when done working on their car.

They are cultured AND manly, and they choose NOT to scratch their butt, belch, and be rude. They can eat nice dinners as well as a good BBQ.

Maybe your vision of Metrosexual is different than mine here in Texas, but last I checked just because we wear afterwshave and cologne doesn't make us any less a man.

Pardon the hell out of me for caring about my appearance.

Posted by: Gil on May 24, 2004 01:23 PM

gil, no self-respecting retrosexual (previously designated as "man" everywhere else in the english-speaking world) would allow anyone to label him with a cute-sy tag like "metrosexual" and no self-respecting previously-designated-as-man would call himself such a thing, no matter how cultured or refined he may be.

take that, you big nancy-boy!

Posted by: juice on May 26, 2004 09:23 AM

Ok, I admit it - I watched an episode of "Queer Eye" once. (I live with female roomates, and occaisionally am forced to give ujp the remote to maintain peace...) What made an impression on me: they recommend NOT washing your hair every day, since it interferes with oils, yadda yadda yadda...

Waitaminute! You mean that doing even LESS to maintain my appearance is actually better? There's something I can safely omit from my already-spartan morning routine? Now that's some advice this retrosexual can get on board with!

Posted by: jimbo on May 29, 2004 06:53 PM

This is my first post to 2B, and what a glorious blog you have here. If memory serves, originally I linked to 2B a few months ago from some new urb site or another, and thought "now that's how to run a blog." I'm just now really tuning in to the blogosphere, which isn't all that late for north Louisiana. Which brings me around to the retrosexual thing: I have to agree with juice... around here at least, a retrosexual is what is more commonly called "a guy." I do take exception to the association of retro's with Windsor knots, rather than with a 4-in-hand knot, but then I suppose a good retro wouldn't know the difference, anyway. Deb's additional comments were on the money, especially concerning the subjects that give retro's the heebie-jeebies. That goes double for Tantric you-know-what. Also, I vote for "architecture, mathematics, and captalism-as-economic-theory" as being compatible with retro, but I wouldn't bring up these subjects with the guys while noodling for catfish, know what I mean?

Posted by: brian on June 1, 2004 11:46 PM

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