A DOUCHEBAGGISH DISSERTATION (1/2009)

THIS GOES OUT TO ALL THE DOUCHEBAGS OUT THERE.

I’ve probably never seen you. Odds are you’ve never seen me. But yet I feel compelled to give you douchebags your due.

The funny thing is, you don’t even know you’re douchebags. Because if you did, you’d change your douchebaggish behavior. Even funnier: you’re so much of a douchebag that you think people who aren’t douchebags are douchebags. And that, my non-friend, is the mark of a true douchebag.

What designates a douchebag, exactly? Hard to say. As of today, no universal definition of douchebag has been agreed upon. This is evidenced by the nine red squiggles in my current Word document. It seems the programmers at Microsoft have yet to acknowledge the legitimacy of douchebag‘s place in the English language.

Which, of course, makes them a bunch of eggheaded techie douchebags.

Are you tiring of me repeating the 21st century’s preferred derogation? Well, you know what that makes you. Hint: it starts with a “douche” and ends in a “bag.”

(The author exhales a deep, practically post-coital sigh.)

There. After a baker’s dozen of uses, I’ve had my fix. For the afternoon.

***

Every so often, our zeitgeist spews out an expression that goes beyond being catchy. Saying it is downright cathartic, to the point of being addictive. Call it nicotine for the mind.

Faced with these cravings, we do what any junkie does. We feed our monkey any way we can. In the case of slang, we endow our favorite terms and expressions with versatility that defies logic.

(While filling your lungs with gibberish has yet to be linked to cancer, it has been rumored to contribute to the eroding of speech and other higher brain functions.)

During my teen years, everything was phat. Nike Air Jordans were phat. Especially when worn in tandem with a phat Starter jacket - which made you look both phat and fat simultaneously. While listening to phat music, you’d dream of driving a phat car with a phatter stereo system. This would help you attract a phat girlfriend. (Wait. That didn’t come out too phat.)

You see the pattern, though. Phat went from being a trendy description of clothing to being ubiquitous with anything halfway decent.

Yet phat had a (posh) glass ceiling. Well-coiffed businessmen in plush conference rooms weren’t complimenting each other on their phat Armani suits, or their wives’ phat Prada bags. However, many of these well-spoken, well-educated chaps are indeed disposed to dropping a certain d-word when describing, say, a socially (un)well-adjusted middle manager.


That’s what intrigues me so about the phenomenon of douchebaggery. It transcends socioeconomic status, generational gaps and IQ disparities better than Barack Obama chanting “Yes we can” on Walter White's purest "Blue" crystal meth. As a people, we will never share uniform views on health care reform, Roe vs. Wade or income tax distribution. But we’ll put aside our most bitter differences to agree Justin Bieber and Kayne Kardashian-West are douches totales.

It makes sense. Calling someone a douchebag triggers a visceral delight that lesser denigrations can’t provide. “Jerk” has a kind of civility to it, and isn’t as all-encompassing. (A World of Warcraft zealot, for instance, is too awkward to be a jerk – but is plenty geeky enough to be a douchebag.) “Tool” and “Toolbag” are the Britney Spears/David Hasselhoffs of insults - still sexy at times, but undoubtedly past their prime. And while traditional profanity is definitely satisfying, it’s not as casual. Labeling someone an @$hole, $h!thead or mother$*!%er carries a certain gravitas. Those terms can singlehandedly turn a PG-13 movie into an R-movie. Yet the stars can call each other douchebags all they want, without forcing ninth graders to have their parents accompany them to the mall cinema. Such is the absolute greatness of douchebag - along with douchedouche-nozzle, etc.

But there is one drastic drawback to liberal use of this phrase and its plethora of kissing (douching?) cousins.

***

In theory, every American male is a douchebag.

(Ironic, given the term’s genesis is rooted in a feminine hygiene product.)

Many would agree the paradigmatic douchebag is a hair-gel infused, tribal tattoo sporting, spray-tanned fellow straight out of Jersey Shore. But, as alluded to earlier in this column, those individuals tend to think more “traditional” looking guys are douchebags. Girls are attracted to both varietals, and ladies who prefer one type of males believe the opposing types are douches.

Geeks and gamers are douchebags because their heads are perpetually buried in devices, textbooks, calculators and entertainment consoles instead of female anatomy. Yet geeks & gamers think jocks are douchebags. Why? Because athletes get near-orgasmic pleasure from chucking lesser beings into lockers, and harassing people during post-gym class showers. And what could be more douchebaggish than homoerotic bullying?

Frat boys are douchebags for being frat boys. Non-frat boys are douchebags for getting off on making fun of frat boys. Republicans are douches because they support plutocratic oligarchy and/or Donald Trump. Democrats are douchenozzles because their panacea to all our problems is whining about plutocratic oligarchy and/or Donald Trump.

(You know, maybe the crew at Microsoft had a good reason for not defining “douchebag,” after all.)

At first, I was going to end this column by announcing a certain New Year’s Resolution. But because only a true douchebag would consciously abstain from using the term “douchebag,” I’ve reconsidered.

Instead, I’ll promise to revise an old bathroom stall adage. As of now, “No matter how hot she is, somebody thinks she’s a b!tch” will become “No matter how cool he is, somebody thinks he’s a douchebag.”

Are you with me? If not, then you know what you are.

3 comments:

Dan said...

Brilliant.

Katharine said...

I really would never have put that much thought into it. How you you sleep at night with all these thoughts going through your head? Does over analyzation of the word douchebag cause one to be a douchebag? Let's think about what we are calling someone when we call them "a douchebag". Indeed, a feminine hygiene product, which is inserted vaginally and connected to a rubber bag holding a liquid which cleanses the vagina. I think that is some good imagery right there. Maybe it should be noted that douchebags are no longer widely used because they harbor bacteria and douches are put into disposable bottles now. So, maybe the use of this word for this purpose has some foundation in its obsoleteness.

But overall, well said, Matt.

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