Local Characters / Miscellany

Hintersexual Man

Metrosexuals move over, we’re coming out: the time has arrived for the hintersexual man.

We hintersexuals may have been obscured by the media buzz over metrosexual males–men whose sophistication derives from an appreciation of the flashier trends of design, decor, and lotions. This makes them a ripe market for skin care products, designer shoes, and boutique vodkas. According to the new metrosexual guide to style, it is “about” style for the sake of style.

Iconic metrosexual men include famous athletes, actors, and designers, guys who like a good facial mask, an expensive haircut, or even a pedicure. They actually like to shop. Soccer star David Beckham, for instance, isn’t afraid to be seen wearing a sarong, braiding his hair, or wearing nail polish. You go, boy! He’s even married to someone named Posh! Or, think Chandler, Joey, and Ross: the men from Friends who hang out in a cafe drinking chi-chi coffees and worry over their relationships. Well, not Joey. He’s a closet hintersexual.

Even the Brawny paper towel man has shed his flannel shirt to soften his image, as he brings that breakfast tray up to the bedroom.

But we hintersexuals don’t have to bend it like Beckham to have fun, or flaunt our style in public. We have our own elan, though you will never see us on the cover of GQ or driving the snowmobile or tractor in Bruno Magli loafers–or using words like elan for that matter. And it’s time for us to stand up and be counted.

I don’t knotice many plumbers, farmers, or foresters among the metrosexuals. Here’s why: we hintersexual men know how to walk the walk. Signature style means knowing how to drive a tractor, and feel equally comfortable with a bundt pan and a chainsaw. You gotta wear grease-stained Carhartts to work and never get caught calling a large coffee “grande”–much less let your friends know you’d pay $3 for a cup of joe. Facial mask? It would make your beard all gooey.

Isaac Mizrahi may be eating corn dogs at the Iowa state fair now, but it won’t be until he brings his designer eye to Carhartt that he’ll catch my attention. For the hintersexual man, it is having style not about having style. Hear the difference?

Retailers take note: Shopping is not the exclusive province of metrosexual men. It’s just not as easy to observe the hintersexual man doing so because we keep our catalogs in the bathroom. And we don’t call it shopping. Sure, it’s the same as accessorizing, but we call it “The Gear Thing,” and our tastes run to tool catalogs and a few clothing purveyors that stock steel toed boots, ten kinds of hammer, and tool belts. You can’t have too many pairs of work boots in your closet, or a hammer for every application! “Shopping” means “buying food.” Ordering a new sawzall or pneumatic nailer is called getting equipment.

Here’s the crux of the hintersexual lifestyle: being effective. We know how to make stuff all on our own. We are masters of our domain–because our domain is a long way from the big city. It’s a long drive to get a new water pump for the truck, or the widget to repair the dang stove. Call it, “Gear eye for the dirt road guy.” It’s “about” the number of attachments you’ve got for your tractor’s PTO. That is, the amount of work you can do for yourself, by yourself

When the wind kicks up, we hintersexuals know to fill the bathtub ’cause the power is destined to go out, and we put the chainsaw in the car just in case a tree lands across some forlorn backroad on the way to work.

Which means it’s also a geographical thing. Hintersexual men, by definition, live at a distance from the urban amenities which abound in the neighborhoods of those metrosexual fellas. No Ikea or Restoration stores for us, even if we wanted them. Too far to drive the old F-150. We go months at a spell without even seeing a traffic light. (And the truck didn’t pass inspection anyway, and the excise sticker is six months overdue. Can’t risk idling for too long where a deputy can cast a cold eye on the windshield decal.)

Now for the timeless art of seduction—hintersexual style.

What woman can resist a man greeting her from the front porch of the cabin offering a glass of Chardonnay and wearing nothing but his chainsaw chaps. Or perched seductively on the tractor, while fetching wood for the stove in February, with only his feet insulated against the cold? Yup, firewood keeps the hintersexual mojo working. There is just no aphrodisiac comparable to several cords of firewood stacked in the yard. As that Austro-Calilfornian fellow says, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire.” Metrosexual men take note: heat is chic. I read it in the guide to style. It also says we aren’t “hicks” any more.

“A Hintersexual Guide to Style,” Portland Phoenix, December 12-18, 2003.

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