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So, do people actually wear monocles?

Mr. Peanut wears a monocle. And a tie. But no pants. (Courtesy of Planters)
Mr. Peanut wears a monocle, a top hat and a tie. But no pants. (Courtesy of Planters)

Okay, we have another important monocle-related update for you.

If you’re just joining us and have no idea what we’re talking about: On Thursday we told you about the greatest trend story in the history of the known universe. The “monocles are making a comeback” story in the New York Times — a story so wonderful that it elicited a response from Mr. Peanut, who I just realized wears a tie but no pants, which is kind of strange  — was built on the idea that more people are wearing monocles nowadays.

The actual story doesn’t read like monocles are suddenly ubiquitous, as writer Allen Salkin notes that the eyepieces “are hardly everywhere.” (In a post on his own Web site, Salkin noted that the Times had run at least three previous trend stories about monocles, ranging from “Rise and Fall of the Monocle” in 1902 to “By Jove, The Monocle Has Returned” in 1970.)

But it does raise the question: Are a lot of people really wearing monocles? Have they been spotted in the wild? If so, where?

Lois Beckett, a reporter at ProPublica, decided to investigate. She created this survey on Thursday asking people if they had seen monocles and where this had occurred.

Beckett released the results Friday. And while this isn’t a scientific or conclusive poll, it’s still entertaining, and it does provide some information about where monocles have been spotted in the wild.

The overwhelming majority of the more than 470 people who replied (a lot of journalists, plus a mix of lawyers, students and one person who wrote “TIMBER” as their occupation) said they had not seen a person wearing a monocle.

With these results, the beauty is in the details. One person said they saw one at a Renaissance Fair in San Francisco, which is perfect. Another person wrote that they saw one but adds that it may “have been a hallucination.” (Also perfect.)

By far the best response came from Kate Howard Perry, a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald, who wrote about “an elderly former CIA agent…who carried a cane rumored to be filled with booze.” (She backed this up on Twitter.)

If you have seen a monocle in the wild, feel free to add your voice to the survey. People are still responding right now, which means more entertaining monocle stories may be coming.


Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.



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Mark Berman · March 7, 2014

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