Deep in some parallel dimension, in the galaxy Nineteeneightyyuppie, there's a world very much like ours — with war, hurricanes, baseball and toasters — but where a subculture of Americans turned out very differently. A world where all men in their 30s are the upwardly mobile, upscale sophisticates whose dates will judge them harshly if their penthouse apartments are insufficiently stocked with the right brand of artisan-crafted salad forks.
Of course, such people like this exist on Normal Earth, but in these recession-plagued and more enlightened days, such subcultures exist largely in major urban centers, where their inhabitants are allowed to reinforce each other's pretentious rat-racing.
But occasionally, the Internet of the alternate universe leaks into the real world, and we get a glimpse of how our counterparts live. And thus is born, 40 Things Every Self-Respecting Man Over 30 Should Own!
I'm 33 and I like to consider myself rather self-respected. So how would I fare in Nineteeneightyyuppie Earth's orbit? Well, I hope!
1) A tailored black suit — Nope. I own a suit, but it was off the rack and my grandmother's funeral card from 1999 is still in the jacket pocket (she was my tailor in life). As is my grandfather's from earlier in the same year. The suit is basically a museum to my pallbearing career.
2) Black dress shoes — Yes. But they're actually Skechers in disguise, so I don't know if they count. Genuine dress shoes are murder on my feet, and even the Skechers tend to make them ache. Still, tally one for my self-respect.
3) Brown dress shoes — Yes. Tally two for my self-respect.
4) Stocks — Actually, I do. I own 20 shares of my community bank in Louisiana. I have no idea how the stock market works, but it still counts.
5) A tool kit — Most definitely yes, and I've used it a million times on a million different projects for a million different people. My toolbox, though, doesn't have a proper hammer. That was sold separately, which I hope counts toward this checklist.
6) A nice wallet — Yes. At least as defined as one not having velcro. Funny thing is, I was considering getting one of those paper-thin, recyclable billfolds laden with artwork for my next wallet. Thanks, BuzzFeed, for setting me straight and macho!
7) Cologne, NOT BODY SPRAY — I have both and use neither. I guess on Nineteeneightyyuppie Earth, women aren't most attracted to the scent of freshly soaped skin. Interesting world.
8) A watch — Yes, and I even used to own a Mickey Mouse one as shown in the article.
9) A proper bed with proper bedding — A draw. I have proper bedding in terms of matching sheets, pillowcases, comforter and even a bedskirt; but I made a conscious decision long ago not to own a proper bed (just a frame). Why? Because 1) Proper beds are heavy as hell to move; 2) and expensive; 3) I'm very likely to gouge my eye out on any superfluous projectile; and 4) I want women to like me for who I am. Justin Abarca would especially shriek if he knew I was currently sleeping on an inflatable mattress...shhh...
10) A flashlight — This list already is an odd amalgam of ultra-pretentiousness and bunker function. What are the next two items, brie cheese and mousetraps?
MAN TALLY AFTER 10: 8 1/2 (Surprise!)
11) Duct tape —Yes. Sigh. Maybe this isn't as fun to make fun of as I thought it would be.
12) A weekend bag — YES! I mean, NO! Not in their stuffy sense, anyway. I actually used to have a pretty nice one, but now I'm currently using a backpack I bought for $5 in the French Quarter and one of the letters in its name has fallen off of it. It's perfect, both for my travel purposes and for rising up against the snobbery that's suddenly back in this article. You were slipping for a bit there, Justin.
13) Proper Glassware — Against properness in principle, so no.
14) Grooming Kit — Not a proper one (see above), but I have all the tools separately and occasionally throw them in a bag. I refuse to count that, because I believe a grooming kit is a conscious purchase often made in conjunction with Axe Body Spray.
15) Double-hinged wine key — I've had wine maybe eight times in my life, and at least three of those were sips from my mom's glass when I was 4 years old. Four other times, the beautiful blonde I was drinking it with opened it herself. The one time I've ever opened a wine bottle was at my brother's first wedding, and the picture of that is one of the strangest sights ever captured on film. So, no.
16) Multiple towels — If you own only one towel, sophistication is the least of your worries.
17) A chef's knife — I don't think I do. I certainly disagree with the notion that "if you own one knife, it better be a chef's knife." Chef's knives are what you own when you own a hundred knives. If you own one knife, you're probably eating mostly peanut-butter sandwiches, so a butter knife would be a more viable option.
18) A passport — If you live in Louisiana or any other gubmint-defying state, you'll need one to board a plane soon. That's why I got mine, but I live in Nevada now so it's not a problem. Alas, this list isn't supposed to be about actual things actual people need; it's about pretentious man-stuff. Focus, Justin! Say a Man Card at least.
19) A flask — No. Just, no.
20) Sewing kit — Yes. This list is getting too practical. Pretense! I want more pretense!
SELF-RESPECT METER AFTER 20: 12 1/2
21) An umbrella — Yes. Couldn't he at least have said a Louis Vuitton umbrella?
22) Buy an ironing board, and an iron — Not yet and yes. This one toes the line, because it's one of those everyone should really have, but it also speaks to the galaxy where all men wear crisply pressed dress shirts in every conceivable situation. I hate wrinkly clothes, but I hate that too. Arrgh.
23) Jumper cables — Yes, and I've used them many times, but even if you don't have a car? Is that a pickup-line situation, because if I were a woman, I'd be creeped out by a guy who was carrying jumper cables without a car.
24) Undershirts — Yes, but they're usually overshirts that I start to wear as undershirts once the pits get yellow. It's called economics.
25) Playing cards — Yes, but I use them to play games, not construct elaborate structures to impress judgmental partygoers that I'll just knock over anyway (see "proper bed").
26) A lint roller — Yes. I hate having lint on my clothes just like the pretentious guys, from which I am an entirely separate entity. Right? Right.
27) A leatherman — No, but that looks awesome. Hmmm...
28) Sunglasses — Yes, because I like to look like a spy and sun gets in my eyes from time to time.
29) A record player — Yes, because my tastes occasionally cross with those of hipsters and sophisticates, both of which I really try hard to not be. Right? Right.
30) Football/soccer ball/basketball, etc. — Yes, and more, and I use them. They're not just for show. Hah!
MAN CARD POINTS AFTER 30: 21. I'm legal now!
31) A French press — I don't drink coffee. I have a standard percolator, but only because my mom drinks coffee when she visits. It's been used 10 times in six years. So no.
32) Good socks — Debatable. But I'll count it, even if they aren't 1,000-thread-count like manhood probably insists upon.
33) Good underwear — All of my underwear has holes. That's how I get my legs through. Oh!
34) A cast-iron skillet — No, just relatively cheap frying pans. They could break noses if it came down to it.
35) Multiple sheet sets — Technically yes, but only by default thanks to the passage of time. So, no.
36) A bar set — A particularly judgmental entry by Justin. No, I do not have a bar set, because I don't drink and rarely entertain, and even when I do entertain, I'm not tending bar. So my having a bar set would be as dumb as someone without a car owning jumper cables OOOOH.
37) Matching dishes — Yes. Though this says less about sophistication and more about how there tends to be a giant stack of identical plates at the plate store.
38) A decent car — Yes, and I agree with this one, because he said "decent." That can mean a '91 Tercel if it's kept up and not a 2010 Mercedes if it isn't.
39) A solid book collection — A must for anyone, though contrary to Justin's advice, I think it's best if you at least try to read most of them. Otherwise, you're Ron Burgundy.
40) A decent bottle of booze — Anyone who comes to my apartment expecting sophistication is probably already drunk.
TOTAL FOSISTICATED MANITUDE SCORE: 26 out of 40.
So I guess I fail, but I'm still more suitable for the alternate Nineteeneightyyuppie galaxy than I thought. That's to be expected when their need to fix things with duct tape is the same as ours. We're all brothers in this crazy universe, I've come to learn.
Still not buying the monogrammed flask, though.