"ALL RIGHT, I'M READY. I'M GONNA HAVE A BURGER AND THEN I'M GONNA START SERIOUSLY DRINKING."
Moo and his friends are being treated to the fluttery presence of best friends Karen Vega and Katie Mesa, who got to know them by becoming devoted posters to the message boards of NJGuido. Both are 21 and small, with long brown hair. They showed up at the palace for a visit the afternoon before with such equally bouncy energy that a newcomer could tell them apart only by the color of their bandannas (one wore red and the other wore blue).
Today, in one of the bedrooms off the kitchen, Mesa, an aspiring actress who studies at a conservatory in Manhattan, is giving a guy a massage on one bed. Vega, a college student who is sometimes called Sparkplug, is sitting on the other bed with Craig Caracozza, 23, who is sometimes known by his NJGuido message board name, Joe C. He is drinking a Bacardi and cranberry to get rid of a headache. At some point, Sparkplug lies on her side and asks Joe C. for a massage, but instead, he just slaps her bottom. She laughs.
The group is discussing what it means to be guido. They say one needn't be Italian.
"It's a state of mind," says Joe C. "You should make a Guidopoly." He means a board game, like Monopoly.
"What would you have?" asks Mesa.
"Temptations, Seaside, boardwalk, a Deko Lounge," says Joe C.
"A pizzeria!" adds Mesa.
"A pizzeria?" asks Joe C, in a dismissive tone.
"It's going out, partying, dancing, clubbing," says Sparkplug.
"Having fun," says Joe C., who wears a Coach visor and a shirt that says Italia. Friends describe Joe C. as the "ultimate guido." He studies at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., with hopes of becoming a gym teacher, drives a paprika-colored Mercedes Kompressor and, perhaps more than anyone, understands that being guido is an aspiration to carefully crafted gorgeousness.
Joe C., Moo and many other guidos get their hair shaped into what Moo calls the "guido cut" -- short on the sides and gelled into long spikes on top. They still favor gold chains, but their fashion is current clubwear. Moo likes Diesel, Boss by Hugo Boss, Buffalo, Ted Baker, Ben Sherman, Seven and Dolce & Gabbana, and he buys something new every weekend. For going out, Joe C., Moo and Co. like tank tops and anything else that will evidence countless gym hours spent on "pecs, abs, tris and bis." On Saturday night, for example, Moo wears a muscle tee, the sleeves of which he has snipped to make room for his bulging biceps.
Guidos may live in one of the few realms of the straight world in which men are as preciously groomed as women. The quest for perfection is what prompts one of the Moo's friends to bring an electric nose hair trimmer to the palace. It's why Moo shaves his chest and back -- and why Joe C. shaves his back and arms and sometimes his legs.
"That's guido," Sparkplug says.
Joe C. also gets his eyebrows waxed, a fact he reveals casually, only to be unnerved when an outsider expresses astonishment. He asks several guys who pass by the bedroom door whether they also wax their eyebrows and seems relieved when the third guy says he does. It seems to confirm to Joe C. that he is potently macho.
Mesa pipes up: "Guys are more girlier than girls these days."
Moo Over Miami
The guido lifestyle is not made for wives and children, or other things that get in the way of fun. As one of the guys puts it when asked if he has a girlfriend: "Depends who's asking."
Moo and his guy friends partied in Miami for five nights this spring and didn't make it to bed earlier than 7 a.m. Some weeks later, they celebrated the broken engagement of the oldest member of their crew (computer programmer Tony Gasperino, 29) by renting a stretch Navigator and embarking on what Moo dubbed a Born-Again Bachelor party. ("One of the drunkest nights ever," he says.) That this is a lifestyle only for the young seems to be clear to Moo, who acts like he has to get all his partying in now before it's too late.
In one of his essays on NJGuido, Moo quotes himself like he's quoting Thoreau:
" 'One minute awake is a minute of youth, one minute of sleep is a minute of old age.' (Anthony Moussa)"
One day at lunch, Moo says, "I don't like downtime. Downtime stinks." He's drinking an Amstel Light after finishing some sort of spiked mango drink. "You know what'll really give me an anxiety attack?"
© 2003 The Washington Post Company