Justin Peters is my hero. Or whomever at Slate came up with the idea to make Justin Peters try to live as many notoriously silly New York Times Styles section trend stories as possible—wearing a man bun, speaking in Britishisms, getting a bikini wax, blacking out a tooth to imitate a gap—that person is really my hero. (Stand up and claim your due, or hold your peace forever.) But Peters wrote the story and actually lived the trends, and maybe he came up with the idea, too, so either way, he truly is a living media legend. Slate, too, has really outdone themselves in the content department here. Kudos all: You've broken the mold.
As Peters explains in his piece, he doesn't even consider himself trendy, what with his Birkenstocks (yuck!), 10-year-old cell phone (how can you even live like that!?), and Sears shopping habits (no comment). Perusing the New York Times Style section as those of us who do that are wont to do, he tends to feel even less trendy; he gained more weight than was "cool" with Sandy, he probably (we're guessing) has never even had bangs; he had (egad) braces. All this deep thinking gets to some totally superficial questions: Can a man be trendy enough to live Styles? By living Styles, can a man (or woman) become trendy? Peters asks himself in the lead-up to his challenge, "Am I too far gone for Styles to help? Would it be possible, through careful study and dedication, for me to get hip? In the interest of science, I looked at every New York Times trend story published since January and identified the ones that could best be used as instruction guides for fabulous living. My mission: become the trendiest guy in New York City."
He managed to accomplish the following seven trends:
Grow a beard. "A beard is a must for any aspiring trendsetter, so I discarded my razor and got to growing." Then he mocked people without beards.
Be an Anglocreep (i.e., speak in incessant Britishisms). "I boned up on my Britishisms by rereading Brideshead Revisited and consulting the Wikipedia entry on British slang. When Hurricane Sandy knocked out the electricity, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. 'Well, this is all to cock!' I cried." Amusing things ensued, i.e., he was understood by no one.
Sleep with many, many pillows. "Just to be safe, I scrounged up about 30 pillows of all shapes and sizes, and threw them on my bed until you couldn't see my bed. When night fell, I realized that there is no good way to sleep on a bed containing 30 pillows."
Enjoy a workout at one of those cool new gyms-moonlighting-as-nightclubs. "I cleared my Saturday night and headed to Barry's Bootcamp, a gym in Chelsea where Barry himself was leading an hourlong 'Dance Party' workout session ... I can honestly say it was the best, and only, dance party I’ve ever attended."
Sport hip gap teeth and a man-bun. "I bunned my longish hair, bought a tube of tooth black, and went to the Agenda: NYC streetwear trade show to mingle with designers and purveyors of trendy fashion accessories. I strolled the aisles baring my blackened teeth at everyone I met. A vendor exhibiting crocheted hats went on and on about how each hat was inscribed with the name of the Ugandan woman who made it. 'What do you think of my teeth?' I asked when he finally finished. 'Do you think they’re trendy?' At another stall, where a barber was giving free haircuts, I scoffed when I was offered a trim. 'My hair is trendy as-is,' I said. 'It's in a bun, you see.'" Alas: "they didn’t see, and after several similarly frustrating encounters, I realized that my outfit was unconvincing."
Get a "he-wax." "I made an appointment at a downtown location of the Bliss day spa and signed up for the basic brief bikini wax, which would tame the edges of my pubic thatch and leave an inverted triangle of hair pointing directly at my junk ... 'Any particular reason why you're getting a bikini wax?' she asked. 'Just heard it was trendy,' I told her."
Mission accomplished, sort of. The ridiculousness of the New York Times Styles section has been exposed! Truthfully, I'd guess that this is only the beginning, the tip of the iceberg, the toe of the Styles section pantyhose. There are so many more trends to be lived and tried, so many laughs to be had. The ante must always be upped. In order to truly live the Styles section, one wonders, does one need to succeed in having a piece about himself living the Styles section published in the Styles section? Probably. And would that serve to make the Styles section forever null and void and defenseless and no longer trendy at all? Maybe. Let the trend worm turn.