Hey, look who’s back! America’s old friend, Patio Man. In his New York Times column today, David Brooks offers "Patio Man Revisited," a little check-in with his archetypal (white) suburban everyman whom he introduced to readers in a 2002 two-part story in The Weekly Standard.
Patio Man was a regular guy, nothing at all like those Bobos (Bourgeois Bohemians) with their lattes and leather club chairs from Ethan Allen whom Mr. Brooks satirized in his 2000 book, Bobos in Paradise, which was subtitled, "The New Upper Class and How They Got There." Patio man lived in, to echo Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s now-famous formulation, the "pro-America" parts of the country. He bought that grill with his credit card. He had visions of hearty cookouts with friends and family.
Patio Man was married to "Realtor Mom" (aka, Cindy), and lived in Sprinkler City where "The people are friendly. The men are no more than 25 pounds overweight, which is the socially acceptable male paunch level in upwardly mobile America, and the children are well adjusted." (Not merely above average like those little losers in Lake Wobegon.)
Of course, when Mr. Brooks expanded his fairy tale of Patio Man and Realtor Mom into a bedtime story called On Paradise Drive—which sported a the subtitle "How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense"—some critics like Philadelphia magazine’s Sasha Issenberg picked apart his facts in a story deliciously headlined "Boo-Boos in Paradise" and Michael Kinsley, writing in The New York Times Book Review broke down Mr. Brooks’ technique:
Mr. Kinsley also complimented Mr. Brooks (maybe?) as follows: "At the very least, Brooks does not let the sociology get in the way of the shtick, and he wields a mean shoehorn when he needs the theory to fit the joke."
The joke continues, apparently. Today, Mr. Brooks writes:
Sadly, there’s no mention of Realtor Mom or those well adjusted kids. In 2002, in the second of his two Patio Man pieces, Mr. Brooks addressed his straw Patio Man directly: "Professionally, socially, parentally, you have your life together."
Hope he’s paid off that grill.