Down-to-earth regular guys take the spotlight

November 30, 1992|By Newport News Daily Press

Hear ye, hear ye: The yuppie is dead. At least he's seriousl downscaling.

The era of the show-off, BMW-driving, Rolex-wearing, Gucci-shod, Me-Generation hotshot has ended, gone with the vanished boom years of the 1980s. And taking his place is -- the Regular Guy.

Says who? Says Lee Stratton, that's who. He wrote the book.

The book is "Are You A Regular Guy? A Guide to Being a Man in the '90s" ($6.95, Dorrance Publishing Co., Pittsburgh). In it, Mr. Stratton argues that the Regular Guy -- the unassuming, down-to-earth fellow who loves sports and family, hates pretense and uncomfortable clothes, who is neither a college professor nor an Archie Bunker, who would give you the shirt off his back but wouldn't be caught dead getting his hair "styled" -- is the male ideal for this decade.

According to Mr. Stratton, who's a newspaper columnist in the extremely regular city of Columbus, Ohio, Regular Guyness is a matter of attitude -- or, rather, the lack of an attitude.

As an example, he cites Dave Thomas (also from Columbus), head of the Wendy's restaurant chain, who appears as his unstylish self in the Wendy's TV commercials.

"He's really like that," Mr. Stratton says. "He's a regular guy, even though he's a millionaire."

Donald Trump, needless to say, is not a Regular Guy.

As the title indicates, Mr. Stratton's book helps the reader determine his own degree of regularness, by comparing regular and non-regular male behavior in various aspects of life.

For example:

* Headwear: "Regular guys wear those baseball-style caps with the the cloth front and mesh back that adjusts in size. They are about as practical as a guy could want, plus you can get them free as promotional items."

* Romance: "A regular guy shows his true love by sharing the things he loves with his woman. Things like football and hockey tickets."

* Bowling, a Regular Guy sport: "Lots of noise and a real sense of power when those pins go flying. Plus, you get to drink beer during the game."

* Soccer, not a Regular Guy sport: "Lots of running and kicking but very little scoring. Regular guys will watch it only when their own kids are playing. Then they still don't understand it."

* A Regular Guy's Reading List: "Price tags, scoreboards, the thermometer, directions, 'The Night Before Christmas,' voltage meter, half the memos from his boss, kids' report cards, tire pressure gauges, whatever's in the bathroom."

* Courtesy: "The regular guy believes in old-fashioned courtesy . . . he calls older women 'Ma'am' and younger women 'Miss.'"

* Conversation: Regular guys start a lot of conversations with a favorite word: 'Howabout,' as in, 'Howabout those Vikings.'"

So how did Lee Stratton get to be the Robert Bly of the Regular Guy?

"A few years ago they opened up this big, fancy shopping mall in downtown Columbus," he explains, "and I was sent over to get a downscale guy's impression of an upscale mall. That's the kind of reputation I have at the newspaper. "I went to this fancy store and asked for a bottle of Aqua Velva. Of course, they didn't have any. The guy behind the counter tried to sell me some fancy cologne. It cost $30, and the bottle was so small I could have fit it in my ear.

"I told him, 'For 30 bucks I could get a decent set of socket wrenches.'"

So when Aqua Velva and Good Housekeeping decided last year to sponsor a nationwide "Search for the Regular Guy" contest, the contest press kit that was sent to the Columbus paper was directed to Mr. Stratton. He wrote another column about it, which caught the attention of the contest folks. The upshot was that Mr. Stratton wrote the book as a tie-in to this year's contest.

But if this really is the decade of the Regular Guy, could we possibly wind up with too much of a good thing? Wouldn't the cumulative effect of this unvarying regularness be a bit, well, anti-intellectual? Can you still be regular if you go to the theater once in a while?

"Sure you can," Mr. Stratton says. "Especially if 'Oklahoma!' is playing."

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