By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
After weeks of painstaking research and late-night expeditions that had turned up next to nothing, I was finally on the verge of a breakthrough. I found myself standing, nearly motionless, in the dark, warm environment that I'd identified as the native habitat of the creature I'd been trying so hard to track down: Homo sapiens douchebagus, a hard-partying bipedal primate indigenous to Dallas.
Many people know this creature better by its common name: the $30,000 millionaire. The name is derived from their distinctive behavioral pattern of spending more money than they make in an attempt to appear wealthy and desirable. A clever creature, adept at camouflage, Homo sapiens douchebagus is a peculiar species, and evidence of its existence is largely anecdotal. I hoped to capture one in the wild.
Earlier that night, as I approached my target location downtown, I took note of the telltale signs that experts agree indicate a high likelihood of nearby douchebagus populations. First, there was the valet stand advertising an $8 fee. Like the symbiotic relationship between a clown fish and the sea anemone that houses it, a $30,000 millionaire is never far from a valet. I handed over my keys to a black-shirted attendant and immediately spotted the next signal: a velvet rope.
Because a good pair of $200 leather loafers rarely leaves tracks on the sidewalks of Dallas, a velvet rope is usually the surest indication of a $30,000 millionaire's location. I'd arrived early on purpose. Tonight's expedition was more of a stakeout than a hunt, so the long line of club-going hopefuls that every $30,000 millionaire hopes to bypass with a quick "What's up, bro?" to the bouncer had not yet formed.
The black-clad doorman unclipped the velvet rope before me, and I descended into a world of neon blue. This was Mantus, and today was Naked Sunday. In 3.5-inch suede Cole Haan heels, wearing a tiny pair of what a salesgirl had assured me were "winter shorts" and with a head full of painstakingly straightened hair, I had done my best to imitate the target mate of the $30,000 millionaire: trendy, scantily clad, but otherwise unremarkable. No flash, no glow. I would leave that to my quarry.
In the bar, credit cards passed from patron to bartender. Discarded glasses containing half-bitten olives and over-squeezed limes littered the scene. As I forked over $7 for a well whiskey and cola, waves of imminent douchebaggery washed over me. Tonight was my night. I moved toward the back of the room, near the VIP lounge and high-definition televisions.
The bar, an increasingly popular type of Dallas drinking establishment known as an "ultra lounge," filled as the minutes ticked closer to midnight. I sipped my whiskey and sucked in my stomach, smiling slightly. To my surprise, many potential specimens were looking my way. My heart pounded. How close I was to making actual human-to-douchebag contact! Yes, it seemed every guy who came within 10 feet of me took a good, long look. It was like they couldn't help but stare at this fine piece of girl-bait. I sucked up my drink, fast, and tried to look thirsty and vacant.
My oglers fit the profile magnificently. A guy in a white shirt sewn from neckline to hem with superfluous off-white patches glanced over three times. His buddy, in a dark green sport coat and Kenneth Cole sneakers, followed suit. Across the walkway, a dude with a bleached faux-hawk and four silver necklaces gave me the eye. I was on the verge of deciding which one of these guys would be the first to buy me a drink when a flash of pink just a few inches to my left caught my eye. I turned my head and realized, to my horror, that the flash of pink was exactly that.
Less than a foot from my head, on the high-definition television, was a giant, gyrating female organ, freshly waxed: the real object of all those glances I'd thought I'd been getting. Naked Sundays at Mantus are taken literally—soft-core porn played on the screen all night. I abandoned my post immediately and was forced to come up with an emergency plan. Thirsty and vacant could not compete with this broadcast of flesh.
The porn on the wall served as a powerful reminder: The $30,000 millionaire is accustomed to instant gratification. He cannot be expected to work or wait for anything. I would not only have to insinuate myself into his environment, but I would have to offer myself up to him on a (leased) silver platter. But I remained resolute: In the name of overpriced martinis everywhere, Homo sapiens douchebagus would be mine.
Elusive and, some say, mythical, the $30,000 millionaire is a creature of legend among the denizens of Dallas nightlife. Used frequently as a term of derision, the $30,000 millionaire is often referenced but rarely captured because it is a master of camouflage: $30,000 millionaires live above their means, usually with the aid of multiple credit cards and sympathetic family units, spending more money than they make on items such as leased luxury cars, designer clothing and $14 drinks.
Fancying myself an intrepid, if boozy, anthropologist, I tried to find out as much as I could about these beings. My hope: to make this urban legend a reality by observing Homo sapiens douchebagus in its native environment. Dallas, with its low cost of living, plentiful jobs and affinity for the flashier, finer things in life, is the $30,000 millionaire's ideal habitat. Exclusive clubs—ultra lounges—offering bottle service and supposedly airtight guest lists make it that much easier for the $30,000 millionaire to convince himself he is living large.