Field notes on the Uptown Minneapolis bro

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Chris Juhn

The observations contained herein were discovered in a notepad left on the table at a bar in the Lyn-Lake area of Minneapolis. According to the university that commissioned this study, their anthropologist has not been heard from again.

Summer, 2016. I have come to the city of Minneapolis, to its Uptown area, to research the rise of a subculture of young, unmarried white American males. A member of the community that I seek to classify is called a "bro."

Economists research the new archetype extensively, for the bro has been known to bend entire markets of real estate and restaurant commerce to his will. This has taken dramatic effect in uptown Minneapolis, where condominium complexes and so-called "bro bars" have become preeminent.

In the interest of advancing the taxonomical record, I visited one of these bro-bar establishments, ordering a draft beer to blend in with the subject.

1. Almost instantly I find myself engaged in a conversation about sexual behavior, to which the bro has a curious relationship. (He refers to copulation by a number of euphemistic terms, most with violent connotation: One is said to "smash," "smush," or "bang" the sex partner, or to have "hit it.") Though obsessed with the act, he expresses little interest in — indeed, is hostile to — the thought of procreation. Should this short-sighted outlook remain, the bro could consciously drive itself into extinction in a single generation.

The announcement of a then-absent fellow bro's impending fatherhood was treated like news of a death — both for the father's social life and, again paradoxically, for the mother's value as a woman. One subject named Kyle deliberately poured out a small amount of his beer and bid solemn goodbye to "Kelly's tight ass."

2. Polo shirts are tucked into madras shorts. Tank tops come in teal, baby blue, baby Carolina blue, baby teal, and baby salmon. Sunglasses are mandatory, though rarely appear on the face. The bro dons this accessory first by tucking it into his shirt collar, then placing it upside down on the back of his head.

One bro wears the T-shirt from his softball team, which bears a nickname on the back. The nickname is a reference to an inside joke, a "hilarious story," I am assured. The story is about his balls.

3. The bro receives the entirety of his "news" diet from a few sources: Facebook, Snapchat, ESPN, Rotowire, the Dirty, Tinder. The bro is broadly incurious, with few subjects he wishes to explore, among them cigars, offshore tax shelters, and the statute of limitations on laws in several southeast Asian countries.

4. Citing a lack of "tail," subject Riley leads us to another bar in the neighborhood. Someone orders a round of liquor shots. Kyle puts an arm around my shoulder and yells, "Shots!" into my ear many times; I succumb to this pressure.

5. Each of my companions has his own distinct theory about the condition of Taylor Swift's genitalia. Even in first-draft notes, these cannot be committed to paper.

6. The bro's political education starts with the 9/11 terrorist attacks and ends with his first time filing income taxes. There is nothing in between. He professes a strange blend of Ayn Rand-flavored libertarianism and Christianity. As Chad explains, "If God provides that my way is easier than it was for other people, that's because I worked harder, and God rewarded me with good luck."

7. A bro named Ethan gives a three-minute monologue about how government welfare is "undermining the American dream." Rough calculations from separate conversations about college tuition, the down payment on his home, and his new Lexus SUV indicate Ethan owes his parents $134,000.

8. Shots! Shots! Shots!

9. I tell a personal story about my experience with a former research assistant. Ryun helps me to understand that she'd put me in something called "the friend zone." We agree she was "a total bitch." Ryun says I should still try to hit it.

10. These guys aren't so bad. One bro has invited me back to his condo for "after-bar" festivities, and promises there will be "mad honeys." His name is either Todd or Tad. There might be both a Tad and a Todd.

11. Riley's makin' some good points, man. If you think about it, between feminism, affirmative action, and open borders, it's guys like us who got it the worst these days. That's why we gotta stick together. We all wonder if there'll ever be another white man elected president.

12. Finally heard the story behind BIGUNS' softball nickname. It is hilarious! He didn't even know they were out!

13. Turns out Tad's sunglasses fit perfectly on the back of my head.

14. This waitress is fine as hell and has been smilin' at me all night. I'm playing it cool. Kyle taught me how to say vaguely mean things, just to keep her on her toes. It's working perfectly: She seems pissed but keeps coming back over here. Ya boy's preeeetty sure he's gonna' be tappin' that tonight.

And to think, I never would've been here, about ready to get some, if it weren't for my new friends. No, wait. No. More than friends. Brothers.

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