It’s time for me to come clean. Right here in The Badger Herald, for all of UW and the online world to read. Some of my close friends already know my dirty little secret, and others must have been living under a rock to still be clueless to my covert modus operandi. I am a metrosexual, and I’m proud of it.

A metrosexual (MET.roh.sek.shoo.ul) is defined as: n. A dandyish narcissist in love with not only himself, but also his urban lifestyle; a straight man who is in touch with his feminine side. ABC News further explains the newly defined, highly sought-after, young male demographic: Metrosexual is sort of a catch-all phrase for straight, urban men who like embracing activities usually associated with women, like shopping, pedicures and buying shoes — lots of shoes.

The word was coined in late 1994 by a British author and was subsequently brought across the pond via a European (obviously) ad agency. The word has exploded in usage this past year. The term began showing up in British newspapers in April 2002, while the first American paper, The New York Times, initially reported on the trend in late June of this year.

So now that you know the history and the meaning of the word, I can come clean. I don’t know how my metrosexual side developed. Maybe I get it from my momma, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with it, but I have suspicions that the root lies elsewhere.

I believe rap music bears a lot of blame. Think about the song “Still Fly” from the Big Tymers. They have more references to Gucci suits, Armani leather and alligator boots than last month’s issue of Vogue.

Just look at the facts: 50 Cent, the “hardest rapper in the game,” spits about buying Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana. Busta Rhymes explains how he rocks Roberto Cavalli. Nelly and Co. did a whole song about accessorizing their Nike shoes. Jay-Z even talks about Hermes boat shoes and Gucci flip-flops. Back in the day, rappers couldn’t spell Versace, let alone rhyme about it. It may be time to replace the moniker “bling-bling hip-hop” with its more appropriate name: “metrosexual hip-hop.”

I believe Europe shares some of the responsibility as well. Maybe it’s the water, but while I was abroad in the spring I saw many of my beer-drinking frat-brother friends turn into would-be buyers for Neiman Marcus department stores.

All of a sudden, we were fawning over each other’s Burberry shirts and Lacoste sneakers. My roommate, who tells me every time I work out that “running is for girls,” said that the new Louis Vuitton Monogram Multicolore bags were “ill.” I traveled around remote Italian villages with a pair of 30-year-old Korean women just to go to the Prada and Fendi outlets. My summer was devoted to acquiring a new pink Polo shirt after some greasy, guitar-toting vagabond ripped mine at an a-bar we hosted (I’ll find you, you bastard). Rest assured, I could identify more jeans than scientists working on the Human Genome Project.

Fashion isn’t the only aspect of metrosexuality. Culture is important as well. Another one of my roommates will regularly go out and spend $25 on a sushi dinner. No longer do I go to a bar and order rail vodka tonics, solely Ketel gimlets. After dinner you would more likely find me going to the movies to see “L’Auberge Espagnole” than “The Real Cancun.”

Don’t misjudge me. I am a still a guy’s guy. I spent three weeks of my summer building a Beirut table that is an exact replica of Camp Randall with holes for cups. I still agonize over who to start this week in fantasy football (is Culpepper’s back ready yet?), have a dynasty in “NCAA College Football” with my roommates (my freshman QB is an 84 speed, holla!) and fraternize with the ladies as much as the guy drinking Old Style at the end of the bar. Just don’t expect to find me drinking one next to him.

Andrew Fein ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in journalism.