Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowmaggedon update: usage of "celebrity" edition, with added commentary on youthfulness

Like probably every other D.C. resident, I've been checking in on the Washington Post's local weather coverage obsessively over the last few days. I'm hoping for some oracular pronouncement that my fair city is about to return to normal. Maybe they'll tell me that my agency can re-open, or that my street will be plowed, and even that grocery store stocking might return to normal shortly. It looks like I'll have no such luck, but hope springs eternal.

One of the sillier pieces there: an article titled "Celebrities' snow days just as mundane as ours." The snark practically writes itself, especially because I have never heard of most of the local "celebrities" mentioned in the article. I nonetheless note it because it throws into relief a key question that Pnin and I have debated many times: how to define who is and is not a celebrity? Especially in our fair city, where connections, rather than lucre, is the coin of the realm.

I tend to throw around the term liberally when describing real life friends of mine as quasi-celebrity bloggers and the like. Pnin thinks this is mostly ridiculous. I freely acknowledge being ridiculous, at least with regard to most of things, but here my more liberal use of the term is in line with the Post's. One complication: that many of the people I want to characterize as such are well-known within particular subcultures, but not much outside of them. Perhaps it's best just to split the baby and call such people quasi-celebrities?

Relatedly, I wish to apologize for anything derogatory I might have said about the Uggs and North Face look. I know, I know, were I to have capitulated, I fear I'd be mistaken for a GWU freshman* even more frequently than I already am. But my beloved rubber elephant patterned boots are starting to fall apart from frequency of wear. They're also not as appropriately warm as they might be, and they're perhaps no longer as appropriate from a pure partisan perspective as they once were. Clearly the Ugg-clad hordes were more prescient than I was.

*No, I don't really understand the biocons' obsession with female youth either. Perhaps it's because I didn't feel I was more attractive when I was 15 or 16 either. Skin quality is one important variable; I still had terrible acne at that age, which didn't disappear altogether until college or so. Another is having a more well-developed sense of fashion; I have a much better sense of what will look good and what horrible now than I did then. Third is that I have more disposable income to spend on my looks than I did then, though I suspect that the mileage of non-lawyer types differs from mine here.

Also, as far as I can tell, nearly everyone I encounter in real life pegs my age at around 18-20, or worse, younger. I have a long litany of ridiculous stories in this regard. I can't order alcohol in restaurants without being carded -- even in the kinds of upscale places where, presumably, nineteen-year-olds are not going to get wasted. Most of the career staff at my agency thought I was a college-age intern for the first three months that I worked there. They then became extremely apologetic and deferential when I gave them my actual title, which privately amused me to no end. If I go to the Hill for briefings, often someone stops me to ask which member or Senator I'm interning for this semester, and also where I go to school. Perhaps the most ridiculous anecdote in this vein comes from the time that Clarissa Dalloway came to visit me two summers ago, when we were both 26, and this guy on the S2 was convinced that we both must have come to town to visit colleges. Note: we did not actually look old enough to be in college at the time. We looked like we were the right age to be applying to college.

I once tried Googling how to seem older. I came across a stupid article that said that I should focus on trying to seem more mature by a)increasing my vocabulary and b)improving my knowledge of politics and current events. Despite my feeling intellectually weak on both counts, the allegedly objective indicators indicate that I'm way out the right tail on both of those. So no help there...

Anyway, the moral of these stories seems to be that 1)many people aren't good at pinning down young women's ages precisely and b)there is significant variation in how old or young women of a particular age look -- both of which seem to counsel against Charlotte Allen inflicted panic about hitting the wall in one's mid-20s.


  1. Did you come up with "biocon"? Because it's amazing.

  2. No. I think I first saw it on Lawrence Auster's site -- see -- but he may not have coined it either; I don't know.

  3. Thanks for the info. It's really a useful term - how else to succinctly describe a worldview that defines "game" as compatible with restoration of moral values? The only thing game and social conservatism ought to have in common is a particularly strong belief in the importance of gender differences.