In the contest between Barack Obama's "Coalition of the Hip" and Hillary Clinton's "Coalition of the Humorless," the state of Washington endorsed the Hip. This is surprising in a state where mild irony, if recognized at all, is considered offensive behavior.
The competitive lineup now stands:Coalition of the Hip Coalition of the Humorless State of Washington State of New Jersey Scarlett Johansson Madeline Albright African Americans Menopausal WASPs Freelancers Organized Labor Cokeheads Diet-Cokers Post-feminists Feminists The svelte The bulging Aging hippies Aging scolds The Kennedys Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell Bloggers New York Times editorial writers Youth Oldth
Despite the Obama euphoria, I worry. One of life's painful lessons is: Never give odds against the Humorless.
The last time the Hip bested the Humorless was Kennedy vs. Nixon in 1960. In college at that time, I assumed this was the natural order. After all, didn't everyone in college, except for the pre-meds and student government ingratiates, want to be hip?
I was oblivious to the fact that all positions of power within Columbia University, from president, trustees, and deans down to shop steward for the janitorial union and nutritionist for the John Jay Hall cafeteria were fiefdoms of the Humorless.
After graduation, I was shocked to find every institution I encountered was run by the Humorless. And voters soon atoned their flirtation with the Hip by electing the most dour of the Humorless – Johnson, Nixon (twice), and Carter.
What explains the dominance of the Humorless in America? Historians cite the Puritans who immigrated to America to escape from laughter.
I wonder. The Puritan tradition cannot explain why many people want to be Hip in their twenties then flock to the ranks of the Humorless in their thirties.
Other countries demonstrate that this transition is not a function of age. In France and Italy, being Hip is a lifelong pursuit, while Scandinavians are Humorless from cradle to grave. The transition from Hip to Humorless in the early 30s appears a distinctly American phenomenon.
I think this is due to diet, specifically cheese. Processed American cheeses, found in grocery stores and on Big Macs, contain bioengineered rennet. For people over 30, bioengineered rennet increases the secretion of amphipathic liver bile acids. This causes Humorlessness.
However, goat cheeses from the Loire Valley (Sainte-Maure de Touraine, Pouligny-Saint-Pierre, Crottin de Chavignol, Chabichou du Poitou, Le Chevrot, Couer du Berry, Le Petit Billy, etc.) are not only free of bioengineered rennet but contain the enzyme glutathione, which preserves Hipness.
You are what you eat. If you eat Chabichou du Poitou, you remain Hip through your eighties. If you lunch at Burger King, you become Humorless at 31.
So if you support Obama, get some Sainte-Maure de Touraine, bring it to work, give it to friends and even some enemies.
But never give better than 3 to 5 against the Humorless.