The Bearista Agenda
Do People Still Use the Bandana Code?
We got a Starbucks in the hood a couple of years ago, and I became slowly, insidiously inculcated into their cult of ridiculously fancy cawfee drinks. It doesn't hurt that everyone plies me with *$s gift cards at holiday times or when I do favors for them. And since they actually filled a grande-sized void in the No-Man ghetto (we didn't have any local cafes that were open before or after work) I had no qualms about drinking the koolaid latte and becoming one of them.
As most of you know, Starbucks sells peripheral tchotchkes like mugs, horrible horrible CDs, and bears dressed in seasonal costumes, or as other animals, because that's what bears do in the wild. The smallish plush bears are called bearistas because that's funny if you're the *$s marketing veep. They've had the adorable goth bearista--a bear wearing a skeleton suit--the bizarre Easter Lamb Bearista (bizarre because really, what bear would dress itself up as a sacrifice? They're not that dumb), the kitschy Holiday Snowglobe Bearista. This season's bearista was the Gardener Bearista, a cute tan bear dressed in jeans, and a sun hat (not to be confused with the Constant Gardener Bearista, who had a gun disguised as a spade). How adorable! The bear also had an apron, and a pale blue handkerchief/bandana-looking thing in its back pocket.
What? What does that bear need a handkerchief for? Does a bear not want to wipe snot on his sleeve? And why in the back pocket? Surely it could have been designed to go into the pocket in the apron. Well, some of you may be aware of something called the bandana code, and now I will tell you that this link is NOT SAFE FOR WORK, nor is any discussion of the bandana code. Do not under any circumstances bring up the bandana code at a business lunch or especially not when having brunch with your parents.
How widely known is the bandana (sometimes called the hanky) code? These days not very. I think the heyday of the code was the 70s. I learned about it when I went to visit my aunt in San Francisco and I used to go for walks so I could smoke. I was 13. I'd walk around up and down Castro Street and once I finished my Malboro Light I'd wander into Hot Flash, an adorable store that sold condoms and dildos and pillows shaped like breasts, and publications. Informative publications! With things about local bands and bars and the hanky code. If you learn about the hanky code when you're 13, you never forget it. The hanky code teaches you about behaviors you can't even believe people think about, let alone participate in. They do what with what? How does it fit?
Anyway, the gardener bearista has a pale blue hanky in its back left pocket. At least what the bear wants isn't too outrageous, although red with black stripes may have been more appropriate.
Most of the Starbucks are sadly sold out of the gardener bearista, but you can find the on ebay if you have any friends who are aficionados of the hanky code.
Now, I'm not saying the gardener bearista designer is aware of the hanky code. However, most designers I know are well-versed in pop-cultural references. I'm just saying is all.