I’m extremely picky and judgmental, and I hold people to ridiculous standards that I could never dream of meeting myself. This in part explains why I’m still single at 32. But honestly, how hard can it be to find a half-Japanese, half-Brazilian Jewish supermodel with a Ph. D. (not in anything engineering-related) and lots of tattoos who is into Star Wars, the Simpsons, The Clash and karaoke and who is attracted to brash, balding, neurotic Jewish men? Truthfully, I once dated a woman who had many of those qualities. She dumped me pretty quickly.
My absurdly critical nature does not stop with the fairer sex. For men, my expectations are equally lofty, if not even more unrealistic. And this isn’t about marriage—this is just about me respecting a man enough to talk to him for more than 10 seconds. I’m sorry—if you’re a dude around my age, particularly a white, straight dude from California, there are certain concepts, phenomena, and flotsa and jetsa of pop culture with which you simply must be down. Period, end of story. And yes, you can call me sexist, but there are some gaps of cultural knowledge that are forgivable for women but not for men. For example, I could date a woman who has never seen Star Wars (as long as she’s willing to watch with me). I’m not sure I could be friends with a dude who could not pass a basic Star Wars trivia quiz (e.g., “Han Solo was frozen in ________”). I’ll take a girl on a date if she only drinks girly drinks, but I’m not gonna get a beer with a dude who doesn’t drink beer.
Then there’s music, which is a whole other can of chili. I sometimes date women who are only into Top 40 crap. I probably shouldn’t, but I do. However, if you’re a guy and your CD collection (or mp3 collection or Spotify playlist or whatever) contains little more than various iterations of “Now That’s What I Call Music Volumes 39-47,” then I’m sorry, you have failed as a man. Seriously dude, turn in your penis. And call me old fashioned, but I believe that it’s the man’s job to teach his girlfriend about music, if she doesn’t know much already. If I start dating a woman and the only tunes on her iPod are Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, the Glee Soundtrack and “Don’t Stop Believin’,” I seriously want to hunt down her ex-boyfriend and give him a stern shaking. What the hell was he listening to when hanging out with his girl? He should have at the very least introduced her to Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation, right? Maybe a little Pixies?
When a dude is in his teenage years and 20s, he often tries to be cool. By the time a dude is in his 30s, he needs to just be cool, period. It’s too late to learn new tricks, or to make up for a lifetime wasted drowning in the mainstream. I’ve complied a list of tidbits from the past 30 years that should make dudes around the same age as me smile, nod their heads, and say “heck yes.” If you’re a dude, and you aren’t down with these, I just don’t think we can be friends. And if you’re a woman, and these things don’t remind you of your man, then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see if we can help salvage your love life.
Without further ado, here is the TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS THAT DUDES IN THEIR EARLY 30S SHOULD KNOW AND LOVE:
10. The Big Lebowski
If you’re a dude in your early 30s, you need to have seen The Big Lebowski. At least 20 times. Before you were 24. There’s a game we sometimes play; it’s called “The Big Lebowski Game.” Here’s how it works: first I say a quote from The Big Lebowski. Then you say one. Then I say one. We keep going until one of us runs out of quotes. When we play this game, it should last a long time.
“8 year-olds, Dude.”
“Say what you want about the tenants of National Socialism, at least it’s an ethos.”
“3000 years of glorious tradition from Moses to Sandy Koufax, you’re goddamn right I’m living in the past!”
“See what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!”
“Donny, you’re out of your element!”
Note: you don’t have to do only Walter quotes—that’s just what came to mind.
9. 80s Era WWF
You know…back when it was the WWF and not WWE. I’m talking the Hulkster, Big Boss Man, Macho Man Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, Jake the Snake Roberts, George “The Animal” Steele, The Ultimate Warrior, Demolition, The Honky Tonk Man, The Undertaker (back when he was The Undertaker), “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, among others. Back when were men were men, and we were really excited 10 year-old boys. Before Steve Austin and the Rock. Before professional wrestling became a soap opera. If you’re a dude in your early 30s, all of those names I just listed should give you a fat hard-on. In a non-sexual way, of course.
Is there anything on TV today as incredible as that?
8. Soul Music
I think one goes especially for the white dudes in the audience tonight. Your make-out playlist needs to have Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and Otis Redding on it, bare minimum. It had damn better have some Aretha Franklin too, some Stevie Wonder (a little more funk than soul, but still important), maybe some Isaac Hayes, some Sam Cooke and Smokey Robinson, and while we’re at it, some Lee Fields. The fact that I have to explain this embarrasses me. And if this shit don’t make your girl’s panties wet, if she tells you to turn it off and put on some Rhianna and Black-Eyed Peas, then you kick her the fuck out of bed. I mean it.
A couple of months ago I went to the wedding of an old high school buddy. He’s a pretty talented musician (or at least he used to be), and I had very high expectations of the song selection for the couple’s first dance. They did not disappoint:
You could tell just from that first dance that my friend’s marriage is going to last. I certainly would not say the same for any couple that chose “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.
My lord, is that marriage gonna be ugly or what? Fucking white people.
7. Mickey’s Forties
I will give you a pass on this one if you didn’t grow up on the west coast—if you’re from elsewhere, Old E is acceptable. As long as you can safely say that you consumed at least 20,000 ounces of malt liquor between the ages of 13 and 23, then I think we can be buddies. In fact, chances are that if we are close friends today, there were many nights in which we consumed a forty or three together. And then we probably got citations for public urination. It happens.
I think I like Mickey’s the most precisely because you couldn’t get it on the east coast, so I really only experienced when I was in high school. But also, there is definitely a difference in taste–I’ll take the Pepsi challenge when it comes to malt liquor. Just don’t give me any Steel Reserve. That was complete piss.
You gotta get ‘em started young. Bonus: Mickey’s also came in 12-oz. “grenades” and 64-oz’ jugs!
6. The Konami Code
Don’t fuck it up. It’s up up down down left right left right B A B A (select) start. Don’t mess up the ups and downs. Don’t mess up the Bs and As (although I’ve been informed that you only need to do “B A” once and it will work—will somebody with a working old school Nintendo please verify?). Just do the shit right so we can get our 30 lives and beat the shit out of Contra in like 10 minutes. If you’re a dude between the ages of 30 and 34, this needs to be hardwired into your thumbs. If it’s not, then something went horribly, horribly wrong during your upbringing. But I’m sure you’ve already explained this to your therapist.
Somebody thought this was a witty 30th birthday card to give to his buddy. Little did he know that by fucking up the code, he essentially killed his friend. Dudes don’t kill their friends.
5. The Stonecutter’s Song
I’m not going to hold it against you if you don’t know all of the exact words. I will hold it against you if you haven’t seen every single episode of The Simpsons from Seasons 3 through 8 multiple times, and can’t come up with a witty Simpsons quote or reference that is appropriate for nearly every moment. For example, while reading this post, if you are a dude in his early 30s who is worth his salt, you are probably thinking “Sixty-four slices of American cheese…” or something to that effect.
The Stonecutters episode isn’t my personal favorite (that would be “Deep Space Homer”), but it’s probably in my top 10, and I bet if you asked all dudes in their early 30s to list their top 10 Simpsons episodes, and implemented a point system in which each dude’s number 1 pick was worth 10 points, each dude’s number 2 pick was worth 9 points, etc., and then tallied up all of the scores for all of the episodes and listed the top 10 episodes in terms of points scored, the Stonecutters episode would most likely make that list, in part due to this song:
4. Cindy Crawford
If you ask a bunch of dudes to name the hottest chick in the world today, you’ll probably get a number of answers: Beyonce, Scarlet Johansen, Jessica Alba, Kate Upton, or maybe Selena Gomez (if you’re asking a pedophile). According to Maxim, Miley Cyrus is the #1 hottest woman in the world right now, which means that some time in the past 20 years, the entire world went to shit. Because 20 years ago, if you asked any dude to name the hottest woman in the world, he would not have hesitated for a moment before ejaculating “Cindy Crawford!” Yes, that was meant to be a double entendre. Here’s one example of what I’m talking about:
You’d better believe we were jealous as heck of Richard Gere, and this was before all of that gerbil stuff came out. I think Dennis Leary said it best:
Can I get an amen?
[Note: I know that most of the time, none of y’all actually watch the embedded videos on this blog. Do yourself a favor and watch that last one. It is nothing short of incredible.]
3. The Bridge in the Sublime Version of “Scarlet Begonias”
A couple of years ago I took a day trip up to Tahoe with a coworker buddy of mine. If you’ve ever done the SF to Tahoe day trip, you know it’s kind of insane—wake up at 4 AM, drive up to the mountains in a daze, pound a 5-hour energy, shred all day, then come back to the city by 10. You ended up spending the same amount of time in the car as on the mountain, which is kind of a pain in the ass, but you also can sort of bond with the person with whom you’re driving (as long as he’s not sleeping).
Eventually, you get to that point where there’s no longer any reception for any radio stations, so you switch to iPod mode, and your friend will scroll through your iPod, looking for something he knows and likes. If he’s a dude in his early 30s from California, there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll just put on Sublime’s “40 Oz. to Freedom,” because hey, we all know and love that album. And so, on that very early winter morning two years ago, my boarding companion put on 40 Oz., and we spent a while talking about the 90s California punk/ska scene. Eventually “Scarlet Begonias” came on, and during the bridge we had to stop to sing along, because if you’re a dude, that’s what you do. Come on, you know the words:
“It was the summer of love, and I thank the stars above
Because a woman took her lovin’ over me
And just to gain her trust, I bought a microbus
Because I’d sold off all my personal property
A tight tie-die dress she was a psychedelic mess
We toured to the north, south, east and west
We sold some mushroom tea, we sold some ecstasy
We sold nitrous acid opium heroin and PCP
And now I hear the police coming after me
I hear the police coming after me
The one scarlet with the flower in her hair
She’s got the police comin’ after me…”
And then I knew my coworker was cool, and was willing to give him a ride back to the city at the end of the day (because you’d better believe I’d leave a dude on the mountain if he doesn’t know all of the words to the bridge of the Sublime version of “Scarlet Begonias”). As for you, dude, you’d better have gotten those lyrics right. You lose major points if you mess up the order of the mushroom tea and opium and all that.
2. The State
I own 6 DVDs: Battle Royale, Girl Next Door, and the 4-DVD box set of “The State.” When the DVD box set was released, I was the 8th person to order it, and my speed was rewarded with a free State T-shirt, which is now featured in heavy rotation. I still think about The State all the freakin’ time, and follow all of the cast members. For the most part, anything any of them touch is brilliant—from Wet Hot American Summer to “Stella” to “Reno 911” to “Wainy Days” to The Ten (yes, I liked The Ten—it was highly underrated) to “Party Down,” to all of those random cameos by Michael Ian Black and occasionally even Kevin Allison. I really think they revolutionized funny.
By the time The State came out in 1993, my friends and I were already pretty into Monty Python, Kids in the Hall, and sketch comedy in general. The problem was that Monty Python was a bit too British, and Kids in the Hall was a bit too Canadian. Both shows were just a tad on the weird side. Also, their sketches were too long and drawn-out for our American short attention spans. The State solved all of these problems. Its sketches were shorter and for whatever reason, more accessible, at least to me. The show used popular American music (best use of The Breeders’ “Cannonball” ever), and the meta MTV parodies were hilarious (I particularly like the MTV Sports one where they play golf). The sketches were immediately quotable, and I remember bus rides to and from the Marin City flea market during which we’d shout over and over again “I wanna dip my balls in it!” or “I’m outta hheeeerrre!” or “I reckon a fella can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a sado masochism bar down there!”
Back in the 90s, every circle of dude friends that was remotely cool had that one extended-play VHS cassette with a dozen episodes of The State, which was passed around and played over and over again until the magnetic tape went bad. When it was your turn to hold the tape, you’d view it over and over again until you had memorized every moment of every scene, and then you were ready to pass it on to the next dude. This memorization process was an important rite of passage for a dude, and the effects of it have lasted for twenty years; to this day, every time I wear my State T-shirt in public, at least 5 dudes will comment on it or give me a high five.
It took me a good 20 minutes to decide which State clip to post. I was tempted to go with “Froggy Jamboree,” but I think B&L is more classic.
1. The Princess Bride
If you do online dating, and you browse profiles on women between the age of 27 and 37, you will learn that a lot of women list “Ender’s Game” as one of their favorite books. This came as quite a surprise to me, as when my friends and I were going through our Orson Scott Card phase in middle school, I don’t remember any girls taking an interest (speaking of which, if you haven’t read “Lost Boys” yet, I highly recommend—it was kind of forgotten with all of the Ender hype, but it’s probably my favorite book my OSC—also, I wouldn’t boycott OSC just because he’s homophobic; Roald Dahl was anti-Semitic, but he remains one of my favorite authors of all time. Separate the art from the artist). Nonetheless, it’s certainly true, at least among women in San Francisco. I asked a female friend if there was an equivalent for dudes, something that most dudes will list as a “favorite.” The answer: The Princess Bride.
It may not be the “manliest movie”; I mean it’s not like Braveheart (which incidentally, I don’t particularly like), but it’s hilarious, exciting, sweet, and it has just enough 10 year-old Fred Savage so that those of us in our early 30s, who saw the movie when we were 6-12 years old, felt like Peter Falk (best. grandfather. ever) was telling the story directly to us. Also, it introduced us to the single most quotable movie line ever in the history of cinema, which finally beat out “here’s looking at you, kid.”
Honestly, I should not have to write any more about The Princess Bride, because I already know you love it. I pity the foo’ who doesn’t.
So that’s it dudes—if you’re not down with the 10 things I listed above, then you’re not even worthy of licking the little rubber piece of my flip-flops that gets jammed between my big toe and my index toe. Now that we have that settled, who wants to be my friend?