Archetypes for Modern China that You Can See at Any Pool, #1: Super-Skinny Speedo Guy

I realized recently that everything you need to know about modern China you can learn at the pool. To illustrate that, I’m going to be posting a series of archetypes. Here’s the first.

Super-Skinny Speedo Guy

I would like to posit a rule, an immutable law of social interaction which, if heeded, would prevent great pain and suffering in the world: nobody looks good in a Speedo. The only exceptions are Olympic swimmers, and you’ll never run into them at your local pool anyway. Bear in mind I said “swimmers” here, too, people, not “well-muscled men.” Muscular men look even stupider in a Speedo than normal men because their entire physique screams discipline and focus, which leaves their choice of swimwear looking like something they just forgot in the headlong rush to look buff. The only people who can make a Speedo work are those whose bodies have been specifically conditioned by swimming to look good in a Speedo. Every other guy is just a regular dude wearing tight spandex briefs. That’s it. And we really need to start calling Speedos what they are: briefs. Not swimsuits, but briefs. You wouldn’t stand for a pool of grown men swimming in Hanes cotton underwear, but apparently it’s all right so long as the briefs are too tight and made of spandex. Whatever.
The particular archetype I’m putting forward first not only has no conception of this immutable law, but actually thinks he looks good in a Speedo, so much so that he models it in the locker room mirror before hitting the pool. Now while describing this archetype it’s important that I mention there are various gradations to looking horrific in a Speedo. Fatties don’t count here because the vast majority of them simply don’t care about anything, not even their own health, so the presence (or lack thereof; some of these guys are FAT, so the swimsuit gets absorbed in a kind of inexorable lava-flow of pudge) of a Speedo is neither here nor there to them. Committed swimmers, some of whom are still a little overweight, never pause in front of the mirror because for them a Speedo truly is just a swimsuit. It’s the super-skinny guys that form a true archetype. And when I say super-skinny, I mean SUPER-skinny. These are the kind of guys on whom a Speedo actually BAGS. Yet they model it in front of the mirror. I actually saw someone ADJUSTING his Speedo once. No man should ever have to see another man adjust a Speedo. Not ever. There’s too much sadness in the world already. And why would you adjust your Speedo? For that matter, why pause in front of a mirror at all? The only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing you could possibly notice while looking at yourself in a Speedo is that your package isn’t perfectly centered, and as you’re already wearing a pair of spandex briefs in a public place, whether or not your package is centered isn’t going to matter much in terms of earning the goodwill and respect of others. Not having your package on such clear display might, though.
But none of that matters to super-skinny Speedo guy. He’s proud of his physique, though presumably he’s mostly proud of what’s under his skin because his lack of girth makes his ribs stand out like xylophone bars. On some level you have to admire him because he’s so self-aware that he can stand in front of a mirror in a Speedo and find something to adjust, where the rest of us would slink off to the pool and try to get under the water as quickly as possible. It’s admirable on one level, and disturbing on just about every other. And that’s the nature of this archetype. He’s the kind of person in modern China who frankly looks idiotic, but is proud anyway. Most PLA soldiers are this way, at least the recruits are. (Anyone else think their uniforms are about five sizes too big?) Others in this archetypal category include the couples who are excited about their couples tee-shirts, people who don’t own BMW’s but carry around BMW gear (wallets, tee-shirts, bags, etc.), any man with Lego hair (the single greatest creation in wig history, but only for comic relief), rich Chinese men who proudly dress “casually” in something that should have been doused with gasoline and burned (remember mullet-and-capris-man?), and my favorite: the cool hair-salon guys, the ones who proudly sport hair that might have been hand-crafted by Jean-Paul Gaultier on a whisky bender, and stand outside smoking cigarettes with a look they think bespeaks a kind of cool disdain but instead just makes them look like a pack of confused, angry poodles. Smoking cigarettes.
Feel free to add your own entries to this archetype.

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1 Responses to Archetypes for Modern China that You Can See at Any Pool, #1: Super-Skinny Speedo Guy

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