douchebag -- n. /dush•bag/ 1. (vulgar slang) A man who becomes a spectacle of bad taste and/or behavior in order to attract women

Don't look now, but a disturbing class of male has infiltrated the bars and nightclubs of Minneapolis. They stalk the sidewalks of Uptown and downtown, bedecked and bedazzled in $60 T-shirts and $200 jeans. They flick Visas at bartenders in exchange for endless Vodka Red Bulls. They preen their gelled fauxhawks in bathroom mirrors, and they hit on chicks who may or may not be pleased with their brand of sleaze. Can't put your finger on what's wrong with that dude at the bar? Duh -- the guy might be a douchebag.

This growing breed of gentleman has reportedly risen to epidemic levels in the Twin Cities. At popular bars like Drink and Bar 508 and in dance clubs like Aqua, they seem to turn up in droves. These creatures from the Abercrombie cologne lagoon thrive on campus just as easily, subsisting on $1.50 Long Islands and the blood of eager freshmen, and howling "Don't Stop Believing" on karaoke night in Dinkytown.

Of course, the douchebag phenomenon is really nothing new. Everyone's seen "My New Haircut," a send-up of douchebags from New Jersey, and the popular blog Hot Chicks With Douchebags receives 30 to 40 photo submissions per day and has spawned a coffee-table book. HCWDB creator Jay Louis defines "douchebag" as "any male attempting to turn himself into a spectacle to attract a female. Things like too much bling, orange tans, popped collars, spiky hair, and way too much Axe Body Spray are dead giveaways that you're in the presence of a 'bag."

But now, Twin Cities nightlife has finally become swamped with this bevy of dudes who seem to take their fashion and dating tips from VH1's "Pick-Up Artist," aka Mystery. And the "bags" are a-multiplyin'. "Places I avoid like the plague due to their high concentration of douchebags are places like Spin, or the Drink Uptown patio on Thursday nights," says Nicole Fox, girl-about-town and co-creator of the nightlife blog MPLS Glitteratti. "The dance-club places are crawling with douchebags because they can put on their most bedazzled getups, sunglasses and over-gelled hair and get their 'Look at me! I'm drinking Grey Goose Red Bull!' on and grind on drunk girls."

Luckily, some Minnesotans have grasped the humor of this situation. One anonymous rabble-rouser has set up a spoof Twitter account for the fictional "PePeLeDouche," aka Anthony Thompson of Chaska, whose tweets include such gems as, "I'm spraying on my new Axe cologne. ... One more spray!! Did it in my armpits too. ... It's gonna be hotties at Hooters MOA!!" And the North Loop bar Clubhouse Jäger plans to host its own Hot Chicks With Douchebags-themed dance night on Aug. 22.

As a bar-hoppping local girl myself, I'm alarmed by this trend. I feel it's my duty to go undercover to learn more about the Minneapolis douchebag, his attention-grabbing tactics and the women who trail him. I shimmy into a tube top and miniskirt, slick on the lip gloss and grab a fellow blonde to aid in my quest.

Rumor has it that the bar with the highest concentration of douchery is three-month-old Cowboy Slim's in Uptown ("Cowboy Slim's has cheap drinks, horrible music and dumb girls -- three things every douchebag loves," says Fox). After a 10-minute wait in line, we're granted entry to the bar, which is blasting Big & Rich's "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" to the delight of its patrons, a heavy concentration of men in tacky Affliction T-shirts and über-tan girls in skirts shorter than mine. The men are beefy and stuffed into bright polos, and everyone looks totally wasted.

Like magpies, we zero in on the young and the rhinestoned until we hit our male target. I've never seen a shirt glitter like this guy's. The entire back is studded with glitter, as though the constellations have assembled on his back. He and his new bride are happy to chat. When we compliment him on his shirt, he smiles. "I got it in Vegas," he informs us, running a hand through his gel-laden hair. Surprise, surprise. "I wanted to get something that nobody else in Minnesota would have." Mission accomplished!

I congratulate them on their recent nuptials, and he beams, eager to brag. "I took her to Vegas," he says. "Everyone said, 'Oh, dude, you're doing it the cheap way.' But I took her to the Kentucky Derby and got a VIP table with Nick Lachey and Joey Fatone. Cost 3,000 bucks." He then starts talking up his cushy job with T-Mobile.

When he learns I'm from North Dakota, he really switches on the schmooze. "Oh, Josh Duhamel," he says, referencing our most famous native son. "Good guy. You know he's married to Fergie? I set up her account." Celebrity-Hobnobber Douche (he never offers his name) says he knows Britney Spears, too. "Her tour manager has a crush on me," he boasts. He flashes a cell-phone photo of himself and the popster.

I'm almost impressed, but I catch the eyes of two guys nearby who aren't quite won over. "That is an ugly shirt," one of them says. "I don't get it."

The art of the rhinestone is part of the time-honored practice known as "peacocking." Much as our feathered friends of the male variety prance about displaying their bright feathers, gentlemen of the douche variety enjoy spending time in front of the mirror. And everywhere from Off 5th to Metropark to Nordstrom, retailers are catering to twentysomethings' desires to festoon themselves in rhinestones and embroidered skulls. The most popular brand is Ed Hardy, designed by ultra-sleazeball Christian Audigier and featuring the baffling slogan "Love Kills Slowly." An upcoming Ed Hardy store at the Mall of America promises to hawk everything from bedazzled air fresheners to bedsheets for ridiculous amounts of money. Then there's Affliction, which tries way too hard to create an illusion of badassery with a proliferation of studs and Gothic lettering.

A high-end downtown bar is the perfect place to display said expensive douche-livery. A couple weeks after the Slim's excursion, I find myself mingling with just such a large group on the Seven Skybar rooftop. I'm seated between a busty, giggly blonde and a prematurely balding twentysomething named Steven, resplendent in a black button-down and whiskered jeans. He tells me in a thick Southern accent that he's "a Texas oilman." I don't believe him, so he puts a soft hand on my knee and says, "Look at my Texas A&M ring." Oh, that huge gold thing on your finger? I hadn't noticed it! "Would I lie to you?"

Why, I ask, is he gracing Minnesota with his presence? Well, it's his old friend's birthday, and they're celebrating. That explains the bottles of Grey Goose arriving at our table at rapid speed. Since bottle service at Seven costs anywhere from $180 to $200 per bottle, I ask what these guys do for a living. "Well, he works at Cowboy Slim's," I learn of one partygoer, who wears a huge silver watch, no socks with his white shoes and a meticulously crafted fauxhawk.

The way this douche entourage treats its members, and the waitstaff, is moderately appalling. One of the "bros," as they affectionately refer to one another, chats up a pretty blonde, saying "Oh, I forgot your name," mid-conversation. "It's Brooke," she replies, nonplussed, and hops onto his lap. Another party member, Vinny, says to the hot-pants-clad server, "Tell your friend Titi to come back. I think she's mad because I tried to hit her from behind."

Where are all of the regular guys? Although I'm unabashedly enjoying this free vodka, since nobody seems to care that this girl they've never met is partaking in their party, I'm appalled at this group's outright display of cocksurety and condescension. I notice another group of guys, all in basic shirts and un-bedazzled jeans, standing up against the wall like shy girls at a dance. They're eyeing our table wistfully, wishing for the harem of bubbly blondes that has gathered there.

Fox doesn't think douchebaggery attracts chicks, for the most part. "I don't know any girls that have ever been attracted to these kind of guys, even at their drunkest and most desperate, but I think the girls that are have a serious lack of self-confidence," she says. "I think their self-esteem is so low that they buy into the BS these guys spit at them."

Covered in grease from Steven's come-ons, I didn't stick around long enough to see whose Visa took care of the costs. But if they're offering free Grey Goose all night, I can't say I'm surprised that douchebags don't lack for girly, giggly company.

"We live in an age when men have to dress up like shiny Christmas trees to get noticed by women," says blogger Louis. "It does work, but hopefully if we mock them for all this ridiculous 'game,' we can stop the overly hair-gelled ridiculousness."

Signs your boyfriend may be a douchebag

  1. He depletes cologne bottles in a matter of weeks.
  2. His credit card is maxed out from too many Vodka Red Bulls at Drink or a shopping spree at Ed Hardy.
  3. He has a tribal tattoo across his back.
  4. He may or may not be taking steroids.
  5. His skin tone ranges from tan to orange to deep unnatural bronze.
  6. He uses way more hair product than you do.
  7. He wears sunglasses to the bar, at night.
  8. He spends a lot of time on Lake Minnetonka with his bros, blaring KDWB (or worse, "I'm on a Boat") and pounding down beer.
  9. You have to wait two hours to use the bathroom because he's been preening his chinstraps.

Recovery 101: How to 'douche down'

  1. Before going out, always take off one accessory. If it's night, the sunglasses have got to go.
  2. One spray of cologne, or maximum two, is great.
  3. If you must wear a logo on your shirt, keep it simple.
  4. Embroidery on only one piece of clothing, if you must -- not hat, shirt and jeans.
  5. Hairstylists advocate a dime-sized amount of hair gel. If you can, use less than that.
  6. Axe Body Spray is not cool and it does not smell good.
  7. Keep the V-neck T-shirt at a relatively modest level.
  8. Start reading Esquire instead of Men's Health.
  9. Rhinestones are not masculine! They are for Liberace.
  10. If you want to spend money on designer denim, switch True Religion for something more tasteful, like Seven for All Mankind. True Religion can be relatively classy -- just watch out for neon horseshoes and overt, obnoxious stitching.

 

Model: Eric Olson of Wehmann Agency
Styling: Jahna Peloquin