Food Court Druids, Cherohonkees, and Other Creatures

Food Court DruidsThe full title of this book is “Food Court Druids, Cherohonkees, and Other Creatures Unique to the Republic”, written by Robert Lanham, illustrated by Jeff Bechtel (Plume, an imprint of Penguin, $12). Bright lime green with iPod style silhouettes of two strange looking people on the cover.

Tower Records in Buckhead has a table full of books in the front corner that I always visit before I check out because there’s bound to be something there that I’d like to read – unusual for me because I traditionally stick to sci-fi and fantasy. But there was no way that I could have left the store without buying this paperback.

Food Court Druids is a hysterically damning indictment of contemporary early 2000’s American culture. The saying “stereotypes exist for a reason” is true so get over it and get over yourself because the first time you flip through the pages of this book you’ll stow your “everyone is unique” mantra and bust out laughing. Almost everyone you know is in this book, even though its author never met one of your friends or family members.

Robert Lanham has done a magnificent job of slicing and dicing our culture into instantly recognizable stereotypes and providing labels which accurately capture the essence of each sub-genre. For instance, here is his description of the titular “Food Court Druids”:

In Brief: Teenage Goths obsessed with fantasy role-playing games like Magic the Gathering
Gender: Male, female, or androgynous
Habitat: Food courts, Harry Potter premieres, Goth night
Favorite Music: Industrial music, The Cure, Misfits, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Wolfsheim, Alien Sex Fiend
Hobbies: Smoking cloves in the JCPenny parking lot, demon-like hissing at squirrels and younger children
Idio Rank: 6.7

But he doesn’t stop there. Lanham really delves into these classifications, making full and thoughtful anthropological observations. They’re simultaneously well-studied and hilarious. With the Food Court Druids he investigates topics like how they choose their alternative names, do their hair, pick their clothes.

Here are some of the Idio Types that I personally know (or have known):

Yoga Moms – who sip lattes and fantasize about what their lives would have been like if they’d lived in the city, while they wait for their kids to finish soccer, basketball or football practice. Yoga Moms hate Soccer Moms.

Unitards – people who walk around in normal society dressed in the full uniform of their favorite sports team.

Stretchibitionist – women with a tendency to stretch suggestively in highly visible areas of the gym. At this point in the book jeff Bechtel has provided a bunch of illustrations of the Stretchibitionist in all her many poses, including: the Feline, the Thrust, the Peacock, the Pamela and the Narcolepsy.

Cowboyees/Cowgizzles – African American men and women who are obsessed with cowboy culture.

Molly McButters – trendy twenty-something women who dress like grannies.

The Homogenator – bosses who overcompensate for their incompetence by imposing strict, homogenous standards on their subordinates. (Note: I’ve recently encountered this bit of lunacy and don’t like it a bit)

and finally, I think we’ve all met one of these….

Cherohonkees – White baby boomers who are obsessed with Native American culture.

This is the kind of book you flip through over a period of months or weeks, perpetually making discoveries and spotting people you know (or ARE). So far I’ve seen that I’m a “split-screener” and am certain that a far more devastating title (and accompanying illustration) is lurking somewhere within.

Cruise on over to your favorite bookstore to give this book a look-see – I think you’ll really enjoy it~

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