If you're out and about, partying with friends, dating, working at your job, hell, even just going to the grocery store, you've probably had the unfortunate, ill-fated experience of meeting a douchebag. Unfortunately, if you're living your life, you have to navigate, or, worse, condescend to interact with, the community of sophomoric people who consider Ed Hardy vintage couture and think it's all right to bring Svedka to house parties. (Everybody hates that guest, by the way.) Albeit an unnecessary evil, douchebaggery knows no limits and crosses all races, classes, genders, sexualities, political affiliations and the like. In particular, there's been a dreadful influx of douchebags who have set up shop in Chicago's renowned Boystown neighborhood.
I've been actively going out in Boystown since I was 21 years old. Now, at 27 years old, I have accumulated six years of experiencing, observing, avoiding, cringing over and losing brain cells over Boystown's douchebags. I love Boystown, especially on Sundays, but the douchebags have to go. The neighborhood does seem to attract a certain type of douchebag who parades around in H&M trying to pass it off as Saks -- the Pretend Fabulous. (I'll delve further into that later.) I miss the good old days when most douchebags were confined to Division Street for nightlife outings. However, as we all sadly know, they're everywhere now. I'm not saying that douchebags aren't found in other scenes and neighborhoods. On Hubbard Street in River North, I've spotted an unhealthy share of douchebags who sport freshly popped collars. But because the gay men's community tends to do everything on a larger and grander scale, from our lifestyles to our relationships, at times, we have bigger douchebags, as well.
So I decided to list, in no particular order, our community's adorable little mistakes who bring down the social value of Boystown. To upstanding citizens who know how to act in public, this list is merely a collection of categories of distasteful unfortunates who infest Boystown and probably other neighborhoods. But to those who slip into to such douchebag behavior, let this list serve as service journalism telling you about yourself while letting you know that you don't have to be a douchebag. It's really not too late to stop. In fact, please stop.
The Pretend Fabulous: This douchebag thinks he's fancy because he parties downtown and enjoys $10 bottle service at Mini Bar (not that I don't have love for Mini). He also enjoys the most exclusive of RSVP events that are open to the public: the kind where a mere email gets you on the list. His pretentious demeanor is only outdone by his deluded sense of access. (Sweetie, merely walking down Michigan Ave. or being photographed in CS magazine at some boutique opening that was already open to the public does not mean you're sitting at the table.) He probably lives in the suburbs and stays with friends who have nice apartments in the city. Do not be fooled by talk of his fabulous lifestyle or by his Facebook check-ins at the newest places downtown. You, too, can go. Just RSVP.
The 35-Year-Old Twink: Hang it up! Hang it up! Hang it up! This douchebag is well into his 30s, probably pushing 40, but still thinks he's a fresh college grad -- assuming he graduated. I absolutely adore older men and have no problems with older men dating younger men, but there's a fine line between being young at heart and trying to relive one's youth. Guys over 25, don't even bother; he likes them younger than you. He maintains a strict gym regimen that only includes cardio, he shops exclusively at Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch, and he works at some mysterious club-promoting job that allows him to go out five nights a week. As if that weren't enough, he thinks Britney Spears should run for president and has dreams of opening up a hair salon or a boutique one day, even though he's never cut or styled anyone in his life. If he offers to take you out, save yourself the trite meal at IHOP and keep it moving.
The Academic: I just love a brilliant mind. It's sexy! However, this douchebag completely forgot that the whole point of education is to help people, not to use it against them. It's true that he probably graduated from an Ivy League school or some small liberal arts college on the East Coast, and he will surely never let you forget it, either. Because he's lacking in other areas, he'll hide behind his education and will be that guy who talks foreign policy at Hydrate -- and on the dance floor, no less. He'll have a reason, a statistic and a mathematical equation explaining why guys reject him time and time again. Of course, it's never his academic superiority complex. Send this douchebag back to school to learn some social skills and free yourself of his holier-than-thou attitude.
The Sidekick: This annoying little pest is usually the unfortunate-looking friend of the hot guy who is trying to talk to you in the club. Obnoxious in personality, he thinks he is being funny, but really he's being just another douchebag. He definitely has a crush on his hot friend and will stop at nothing to prevent you from hooking up with that hot friend. He'll conveniently position himself between you and his friend on the dance floor, he'll consistently interject himself into other conversations and he will try to make you overlook his shameless antics by buying all of you shots of bottom-shelf liquor -- the worst. Hot guys are a dime a dozen in Boystown, so find another one who has a witty wingman and not a sloppy sidekick.
The Homo Thug: Ugh! Attention, all homo thugs: Blasting rap as you drive with your seat back in a Cutlass does not make you straight or give you any type of street cred. This douchebag wouldn't dare step foot in a gay establishment, because he ain't on dat gay shit, man. He has a girlfriend but probably sings better falsettos in bed than she does, given that he's really a power bottom. His connection to the gay community is through Grindr, Adam4Adam, Manhunt or any one of those gay social networking sites. He likes to keep things on the down low, and in his profile he claims he's a top. Ha! Don't bother with him. In fact, roll him a fat one, give it to him and tell him to get off that straight shit already, man.
The Halsted Street Socialite: These douchebags are very popular in Boystown because they either work on Halsted Street or frequent the bars so much that management has approached them to sell stock. Many (but not all, by any means) who work on Halsted Street are douchebags of a different variety. My parents taught me that no matter what job you have, from cleaning the floor of a place to owning it, you should approach it with a sense of pride. I firmly believe this and still follow this rule today. Therefore, I love seeing bartenders, doormen, bar backs and managers excited about their jobs and performing them efficiently, and for the most part I've had pleasant interactions with them. But there is a handful of employed douchebags who truly believe that they own the venue where they are working, or even Halsted Street, for that matter. Oh, I'm sorry, but last I checked, you were just sitting people down for bottle service, not paying the rent for the place. These douchebags are the Halsted Street equivalent of the Pretend Fabulous, because they use their perceived fancy social scene and work environment as leverage to mistreat people. Unfortunately, I suggest getting acquainted with these douchebags, because in 10 years they will be working at the exact same job.
The Grindr Geek: This douchebag is actually more of an addict but still a douchebag. He spends a lot of time on Adam4Adam, Manhunt, OKCupid, Craigslist and probably a few other startup social networking sites and mobile apps, but Grindr is his first choice. His familiarity with the guys of Boystown is strictly limited to their online profiles, and his longest, most intimate relationship lasted for about 200 characters. There's no need to try to avoid this douchebag, because he spends all his time looking at his smartphone anyway.
The Mean Girl: This douchebag never has anything positive to say and hates on everyone and everything. Boystown is his high school, and he thinks he's Queen B. I'll bet everything that he was bullied in high school and his schoolmates never let him forget how different he was; it's a classic case of mistreating others because you were mistreated. He thinks it's cool and chic to shop at Armani Exchange and will oddly judge others based solely on their fashion labels. He's obsessed with being popular and will take pictures with hot guys just to show off his "popularity." He hangs out with the Halsted Street Socialites and mistakenly admires the pseudo-sophisticated lifestyle of the Pretend Fabulous. Avoid him at all costs.
The Jim Crow Supporter: I'm sure all my fellow gay men of color have had unlucky run-ins with these douchebags. The Jim Crow Supporter thinks it's appropriate to tell racist jokes, has the tactless talent of insulting anyone who's not a white man and probably doesn't find the ideology of separate-but-equal problematic. He doesn't think he's racist, because not only did he vote for Obama but his parents donate to the United Negro College Fund. Don't bother trying to explain the error of their ways to these simpletons; it would be like explaining trigonometry to a grapefruit. However, if you have the overarching need to engage one of these douchebags in debate (and I understand that need), you'll have to overlook his less-than-stellar, backwoods pedigree. Good luck on that one.
The Gym Rat: The Gym Rat isn't a douchebag because he goes to the gym and is in great shape but because that's all he's about, and because for him that's all you should be about, too. They travel in packs and drink water and vodka with a lemon twist. Unlike the Mean Girl, he couldn't care less about which name brands you're wearing; he is much more concerned with what's underneath your clothes, which is indeed his only concern when it comes to you. Anything less than a gym membership at Equinox or David Barton will send him running for the hills. If you can get past the bicep and strength workout talks, the Gym Rat might be a fun hookup. However, the loss of brain cells might knock you out of the mood. Do stay in contact with him for that guest pass at David Barton, but that's as far as it should go.