August 11, 2003

A Metrosexual By Any Other Name

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is one of the summer’s best reality shows. That isn’t saying it’s quality television but at least no one is lying, stabbing each other in the back, or forming alliances all for a big cash payoff. What’s nice is that historically separate (and unequal in the eyes of moralists and the law) male domains actually interact in a positive way. The premise: five gay specialists help a straight uncultured caveman shape up, dress well, learn to cook, and live in a nicely appointed abode. Culture intersects with Main Street. Comedy, romance, and stereotypes ensue.

It remains to be seen whether the formulaic approach to the show will quickly get stale (as TLC’s Trading Spaces has). But interest in the series has spurned the rise of a new meme, the Metrosexual: a straight guy whose into fine clothes, great abs, facials, and manicures. Think you might want to come out of this closet? Take the Metrosexual Test.

While I like fine wines (I’m partial to Chardonnays with lots of malo) and am constantly searching for slacks that drape just so as they touch my shoes, I don’t quite fit the contemporary Metrosexual mold. Postmodern man that I am, I think of myself as a mix of urban chic with a suburban twist. I’m more of a Costcosexual.

A Costcosexual doesn’t shop in town at Barney’s or Nordstroms but out in the burbs at Costco, that famous warehouse known for its rich texture of gargantuan proportions. Men who like large quantities and aren’t afraid to search for those high quality items amongst towering pallets will find that Costco meets all of their manly needs.

Cruising the wide aisles of Costco one scans the merchandise while simultaneously observing other casually attired Costcosexuals. Oversized carts allow you to see what they’re buying and I have been known to stop one to ask “Where did you find that?”

In one trip I purchased a 3-liter bottle of Filippo Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a George Foreman Contact Grill with Split Cooking Surface (to broil meat and warm buns at the same time), and big blocks of Jarlsberg cheese. Costco’s Fresh Atlantic Farmed Salmon is legendary. Seriously, it’s to die for. And so much of it wrapped neatly in one four-pound shrink-wrapped package (Costcosexuals come armed with precision calculators encased in fine “Gucci-like” leatherette covers so we can easily proportion those large quantities on site). Barbecued or George Foreman grilled, it’s a treat.

I’ve already learned from Ted, Queer Eye’s Food and Wine Connoisseur that cooking fish is a breeze if you simply remember: 6 ounces, 10 minutes at 400 degrees. That and my Costco salmon is all I really need.

And if I ever want to treat myself to a foot massage Aisle 10 has the Homemedico Foot Rejuvenator Ultra with Shiatsu Massage for only $38.99. But I don’t think I could ever go that far.

My father was a proto-Metrosexual. Late in his life I was suddenly blinded one day when I glanced down at his highly polished and perfectly trimmed fingernails. I don’t know who convinced him to start getting manicures. He’d never felt them a necessary lifestyle accoutrement while I was growing up. When he showed me his pinky ring I knew he had crossed over.

Like most father-son relationships of our generations we never talked much about anything, let alone lifestyle choices. But I always vowed that if I was ever caught wearing a “pinky” my significant other could shoot me. No questions asked.

Growing up in Los Angeles, my family shopped at the proto-warehouse of the 1960s, Fedco. A deep discount store (before Wal-mart and the internet), Fedco was supposedly open only to government employees. My father worked for Lockheed. Since it was a government contractor, that was close enough for the store. This is where I got my first taste of national products at low prices.

My formative years began in the burbs. Early experiences shaped my sense of style. Breaking away from my past, I rebelled by migrating to the urban core in my early 20s. But suddenly (or so it seems) I find myself back in suburbia mowing lawns and buying huge amounts of everything. My past and my genetics cannot be denied as the age-old debate rages on: was I born a Costcosexual or was it a lifestyle choice?

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