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Who Do You Think You Are?

An Easy-to-Use Guide on Class and Style for Chicagoans Who Don't Know Their Place


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As big cities go, Chicago isn't very class conscious. Maybe it's because we haven't been at it as hard or as long as places like London and New York.

For centuries the British have been acknowledging strata of rank and their concomitant symbols. New Yorkers have been posturing at cocktail parties, slinking around theater openings, and smirking at provincials a whole lot longer than we Chicagoans have. The face of social standing--as chiseled by style--is long familiar to both.

But as comparatively unpracticed as we are at social maneuvering, we're slowly getting there. On one hand we survey our social landscape and say it's largely level; on the other hand we continue packing down the terraces of class.

I think it's time to lift the fog, and to not only admit that Class has sunk its talons permanently, but to recognize the marks it's left on the body politic.

Let's start, shall we, to solder the nameplates beneath our pigeonholes? Since the muse couldn't provide me with any better means of expressing types than the acronyms (you know, YUPPIE, DINK, etc) that I have been so recklessly and rashly deploring for the past few years, I'm resorting to them too. Sue me. Here are the groups, one of which you most certainly belong to:

1. MUDDIES: Mired, Utterly Destitute, and Disenfranchised

2. POOPIES: Patently, Overtly Oppressed Proles

3. PUPPIES: Proles with Upward Pretensions

4. DUMBIES: Despicably Unquestioning Mainstream Bourgeoisie

5. CLUBBIES: Clone-Like Upper-Bourgeois Babbitts

6. GLITZIES: Garish, Loaded, Insensitive, Tasteless Zeroes

7. OAFS: Old Anesthetized Aristocratic Family

8. MICE: Moribund Intellectual Creative Elite

Classes 2 through 6 are self-explanatory. Class 6, sometimes referred to as the nouveau riche, is easily the most persecuted in America, especially by the servants of class 7, aka Old Money. The denizens of class 1 are frequently called the homeless by sociologists and "a bunch of bums" by my grandmother (the one who voted for Reagan). Class 8 dwells in the crosswinds of contempt, i.e., Mice revile all the other classes and all the other classes revile Mice for reminding them of their own inadequacies. Mice fancy their lives as being perched at an eminence several calibrations above the petty symbols, vacant goals, and trivial pursuits of other classes.

Among all the classes, the most precipitous population decline is occurring among Mice, while the most dramatic ascension in numbers can be claimed by the Muddies, followed closely by Clubbies. The Reagan and Bush administrations can be thanked in good part.

How can you tell what class you're in? Here's the shorthand method: simply take the number of the group you believe yourself to be a grinning exemplar of and subtract by one. Voila!

If you'd rather have a more accurate reading you can take a crack at the following class guide, whose fountainhead is the premise that class is defined by style. For instance, I submit that you are, with respect to social layer, not what you eat, but where you eat. By the same token you are how you dress, where you live, what you do, who your friends are, etc.

Before you rank yourself, two notes--the first cautionary. Fashion, we cannot deny, is a terrorist to whom we pay endless emotional ransom. Class symbols change as frequently as Carol Marin's hairdos. Ergo, I disclaim any permanence for the answers in the guide; I realize any of them could be outdated an hour and a half from now. Although tenants of one class feel friendly toward tenants of the class below in the abstract, the uppers start running and hiding the moment the lowers start hanging around. Class distinction bosses change, going so far in its arrant gall as to run the turf in areas as fundamental as food, shelter, and clothing. So, as they say, hurry while those ephemeral quantities last.

Second, if you suppose that you're immunized against the shallow malice of status, suppose again. Nobody can sidestep the twisting vagaries of trend, the blueprints that shape our social structure. And you wouldn't want to be a nobody, would you? So jimmy that scowl from your face; submit to your destiny and begin scoring yourself.

(1) Favorite food store: Muddies: Don't shop for food. Poopies: Butera. Puppies: Jewel. Dumbies: Dominick's. Clubbies: Treasure Island. Glitzies: Sunset Foods. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: Foodworks.

(2) Where you shop for furniture: Muddies: You can't remember the last time you bought furniture. Poopies: L. Fish. Puppies: Not so surprisingly, Wickes. Dumbies: Plunkett's. Clubbies: Crate & Barrel. Glitzies: Merchandise Mart (your decorators do your shopping). Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: City.

(3) Where you shop for men's clothing: Muddies: Haven't shopped for clothing in years; just wear old clothes. Poopies: Sears. Puppies: The Suitery. Dumbies: Carson's. Clubbies: Mark Shale. Glitzies: Ultimo. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: Ringo-Levio.

(4) Where you shop for women's clothing: Muddies: Just wear old clothes. Poopies: Lerner's. Puppies: Madigan's. Dumbies: The Limited. Clubbies: Marshall Field's. Glitzies: Janis. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: Flashy Trash.

(5) Where you buy your art: Muddies: Can't remember ever buying art. Poopies: Saxon Paints. Puppies: Billy Hork Galleries. Dumbies: The Old Town Art Fair. Clubbies: Any gallery on Michigan Avenue. Glitzies: You let your interior decorator pick out things that match your furniture. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: SuHu.

(6) You have season tickets to: Muddies: Don't attend anything. Poopies: Upper balcony, Blackhawks. Puppies: Mezzanine, Blackhawks. Dumbies: Cubs. Clubbies: Bears. Glitzies: Box seats, Blackhawks. Oafs: See Muddies (although you hold season tickets to the polo matches, you don't actually attend). Mice: Nothing.

(7) Favorite burger place: Muddies: Don't eat burgers. Poopies: White Castle. Puppies: Burger King. Dumbies: McDonald's. Clubbies: Hamburger Hamlet. Glitzies: Arnie's. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: White Castle.

(8) Favorite pizza: Muddies: Don't eat pizza. Poopies: Domino's. Puppies: Aurelio's. Dumbies: Uno and Due. Clubbies: Edwardo's. Glitzies: Spiaggia. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: Trattoria Pizzeria Roma.

(9) Your relationship with Le Francais: Muddies: Don't eat at restaurants. Poopies: Never heard of it. Puppies: Heard of it, never ate there. Dumbies: Went once for a big birthday or anniversary. Clubbies: Go there, but only on expense account. Glitzies: Go there often, but hate the rich food and don't care for the stuck-up waiters. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: You know Banchet personally, but you switched when Carlos opened his own place.

(10) Where you live: Muddies: Anywhere. Poopies: Bridgeport. Puppies: South suburbs. Dumbies: Northwest. Clubbies: West Lincoln Park. Glitzies: Gold Coast. Oafs: Anywhere on the lake. Mice: Bucktown or Hyde Park.

(11) Where you work out: Muddies: You don't work out. Or work. Poopies: YMCA or YWCA. Puppies: Chicago Health Club. Dumbies: Downtown Sports Club. Clubbies: East Bank Club. Glitzies: LaSalle Club. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: Yoga at the office.

(12) Favorite Illinois political figure: Muddies: Not interested in politics. Poopies: Slim Coleman. Puppies: Rich Daley. Dumbies: Jane Byrne. Clubbies: Jim Thompson. Glitzies: Roman Pucinski. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: Jesse Jackson.

(13) Favorite Chicago Bear: Muddies: Not interested in football. Poopies: Steve McMichael. Puppies: Jim McMahon. Dumbies: Mike Singletary. Clubbies: Dave Duerson (after Gary Fencik retired). Glitzies: Mike Ditka. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: Any quarterback who can throw Hegelian spirals.

(14) Favorite Chicago Cub: Muddies: Huh? Poopies: Don Zimmer. Puppies: Mitch Williams. Dumbies: Rick Sutcliffe. Clubbies: Ryne Sandberg. Glitzies: Nobody since Joe Pepitone took his hair dryer and blew town. Oafs: See Muddies (unless you count Stanton Cook as a Cub). Mice: Andre Dawson.

(15) Favorite live entertainment: Muddies: Don't attend. Poopies: Wrestling at the Rosemont. Puppies: Elvis shows at the Liberty Lounge. Dumbies: Musicals at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse. Clubbies: Ravinia. Glitzies: Liza Minnelli or Sinatra at the Arie Crown. Oafs: See Muddies (you are a board member of the Lyric Opera and the CSO). Mice: University of Chicago Folk Festival.

(16) Favorite radio personalities: Muddies: Don't listen to radio. Poopies: Jonathan Brandmeier. Puppies: Steve and Garry. Dumbies: Bob Collins. Clubbies: Anybody on WBBM AM. Glitzies: Wally Phillips. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: Milt Rosenberg.

(17) Favorite TV newsperson: Muddies: Don't own a TV. Poopies: Joan Esposito (after Deborah Norville skipped town). Puppies: Rick Rosenthal (Puppies have to wake up early). Dumbies: Floyd Kalber. Clubbies: Walter Jacobson. Glitzies: Mary Ann Childers (since Nancy Merrill slipped off to Boston). Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: John Calloway.

(18) Favorite broadcast sports reporter: Muddies: Don't go in much for sports. Poopies: Chet Coppock. Puppies: Chuck Swirsky. Dumbies: Johnny Morris. Clubbies: Mike Adamle (it's those button-down collars). Glitzies: Mark Giangreco (it's those European collars). Oafs: See Muddies (if only they'd cover polo). Mice: Tim Weigel or Bruce Wolf.

(19) Favorite weatherperson: Muddies: You don't consult them, because the weather won't affect your plans anyway. Poopies: John Coleman. Puppies: Harry Volkman. Dumbies: Jim Tilmon. Clubbies: John Coughlin. Glitzies: Steve Deshler. Oafs: See Muddies (although you occasionally glance at the sundial--a family heirloom--when you're engaged in your sole passion, gardening). Mice: Nobody since Dr. Dan Q. Posin.

(20) Favorite film critic: Muddies: Not interested in movies. Poopies: Norman Mark. Puppies: Sisbert. Dumbies: Sisbert. Clubbies: Sisbert. Glitzies: Norman Mark. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: Dave Kehr.

(21) Favorite newspaper columnist: Muddies: Don't read newspapers. Poopies: Ann Landers. Puppies: Michael Sneed. Dumbies: Bob Greene. Clubbies: Andrew Leckey. Glitzies: Kup. Oafs: See Muddies. Mice: Mike Royko.

(22) Favorite Chicago publication: Muddies: Don't read (but like to sleep on and under either Sunday paper). Poopies: The TV magazine of either daily. Puppies: The TV magazine of either daily. Dumbies: Chicago magazine (it's what Dumbies think Clubbies read). Clubbies: Crain's Chicago Business (it's what Clubbies think Oafs read). Glitzies: North Shore (it's what Glitzies think Clubbies and Oafs read). Oafs: See Muddies (but have business, travel, and decorating magazines displayed in antique magazine racks). Mice: Chicago Times.

Finished? Here's how to uncover which social class has swallowed you up. Simply figure out which class you fall into most often. That's it! That's what you are.

What's that, you didn't grade yourself because you didn't take the test seriously? Well, before you hastily dismiss the guide, consider this: we alone among mammals try to certify our superiority over others of our kind by adorning ourselves with the images of other animals--such as alligators and polo ponies--or the skins of animals themselves. Now, that's going to a lot of trouble to draw the lines of the pecking order, isn't it? So, go back and grade yourself immediately.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustrations/Tony Griff.

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