There are large differences between your average ironist—a grubby, unkempt faux-Francophone—and the regal presence that is the rarer (yet equally Francophone) “cerebral” ironist. The contrast is like that between mules and donkeys.
The former are much like “You Oughta Know”-era Alanis Morrisette, in that they are more properly defined as social satirists than ironists proper. Their most raucous displays of irony are when they attend “The Wedding Date” high, just so that they can snicker loudly at Debra Messing or talk about boxed wine with a suppressed mirth so powerful that scientists have yet to fully understand its magnitude. Online discussion forums about “The Royal Tenenbaums” are full of these people.
However dryly hilarious these individuals may be, we must not conflate them with the true ironists on campus—members of final clubs.
Many people consider members of final clubs to be fully honest in their matching ties and manly cavorting. This is not the case in the least. In fact, the males of final clubs are such adept practitioners of irony that even people who pride themselves on their so-called “ironic” senses of humor cannot catch them in the act
I realized this during this autumn’s “punch” process.
Politely, I would ask my final club-pursuing friends how the whole thing was going, and they would consistently give me the same answer.
“Well, I mean, it’s not very stressful for me,” they would coo. “Because, like, I don’t really care if I get into one or not. I’m not like some of those guys who are obsessed with it or something. I mean that is so weird. If I did join a club, I would do it because so many of my friends are there, you know.”
This, my friends and neighbors, is the truest manifestation of irony. This is an irony that is so subtle and rarified that even I—merely a satirist in comparison—didn’t get it at first.
You see, the final club lifestyle is one of cerebral irony—individuals playing at roles they find either repulsive or silly. Why do they do it? The reasons are varied. Perhaps to make a supremely ironic point about how excessive the American aristocracy can be? Perhaps to see how the other half lives? Perhaps, like an actor portraying a serial killer, just for the thrill of it?
No matter the reason, the paramount accessory for a true cerebral ironist is a killer ironic fashion sense.
The sporting of pink and green to the polo club has always been a sort of tongue-in-cheek mode of self-expression, but final clubs members take it to an all new level. Spouting-whale pants? Ha! Madras print flannel boxers and loafers made out of sheepskin? That’s enough to inspire dry-yet-ironic chuckling from any peanut gallery!
People always complain about the cloying preppiness or seemingly ingrained class differences rampant in the popped collar. One popped collar may be annoying. But five? Pink ones? At the same time? On the same person? That is genius.
The women who party at final clubs—despite the fact that they have to go to the bathroom in the basement—have an equally sharp and saucy brand of ironic fashion sense. It is much harder to exemplify irony when you don’t have a mansion left to you for no reason, but these girls do admirably under the circumstances.
Often they wear ironically short mini-skirts and cable-knit sweaters in a pastel color. Or, if there’s a theme party, they all ironically wear a bra and a man’s oxford—no matter what the theme is! Ah! How lovely!
All of this is done while ironically swigging beer and looking for a husband. Now that’s true ironic multitasking.
THREE TIPS FOR FINAL CLUB “IRONY”:
1) Don’t be afraid of matching anymore. The more pink, the merrier.
2) Wearing a blazer may make you think that you can talk about your hedge fund with the power and authority of a seasoned banker. You are correct about this.
3) Bowties are not for the weak.
—Staff writer Rebecca M. Harrington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.