There he is on the front page of his eponymous Web site, lovingly fingering his bass guitar in the gently worn leather boots of a man who lives to rock. Over the past few weeks, he’s been crisscrossing the country in a fully appointed tour bus that delivers him to throngs of adoring fans and groupies who eagerly await an autograph, a photo, and—if they’re lucky—maybe a few licks on the guitar.
And when his U.S. tour brought him to New York City, where I live, he got the kind of reception rock stars routinely earn. When he sauntered onto the set of The View, he was embraced by fawning hosts and welcomed with thunderous applause from a mostly female audience. You’d almost think an actual rock star (or Hannah Montana) had just walked in. It wasn’t. It was just—be still my heart—Mike Huckabee.
You see, I’ve been in love with the Huck for a while now. I know, I know: I’m not supposed to go for guys like him. And it’s not just because he’s older and married. My obsession is deeply disturbing for other reasons.
As I said, I’m a New Yorker—and a pretty serious one. I root for the New York Mets. I can’t name a single person who lives in my apartment building. I fantasize about tripping tourists who insist on walking three-wide, arm in arm, at a glacial pace on a narrow sidewalk. I routinely have cereal and paper towels delivered, and I haven’t seen the inside of a washing machine in a decade. I’m also in my late 20s, which, coupled with my hip address, ensures that my taste is well-seasoned, appropriately edgy, and probably better than yours. I will obsess over anything Ricky Gervais does. I can name at least 10 boutique vodkas. My music interests are sufficiently sophisticated that I can condescend to most other age groups with authority. Finally, I’m also a grad student—at NYU, no less—so I’m supposed to be one of those cosmopolitan academics who have designer eyeglasses, a subscription to Artforum, and a ready collection of aphorisms to quote from the likes of Foucault, Derrida, and Sartre.
Indeed, I am guilty as charged. But as Sartre once said, “Man is not the sum of what he has already, but rather the sum of what he does not yet have, of what he could have.”
So, a guy like Mike Huckabee isn’t supposed to be in my wheel house. Girls (and boys) like me are supposed to go for Anderson Cooper types. My friends think I’m a traitor to my age, my island, and my vast (and almost fully paid for!) intellect—but I don’t care. If loving Huck is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
I’m also, as you may have guessed, a Republican. I’ve been in the political minority in Manhattan for eight years, and before that, I failed to fit in at my superliberal upstate university. It isn’t always easy, but it can be a lot of fun. Wearing GOP paraphernalia to Whole Foods is a favorite Saturday-morning pastime.
Still, it’s not as fun as it used to be. There was a time I was considered an anomaly as a young urban conservative (a YUCON?). But every day, it seems like more and more of us come out of the woodwork. Thus it is with newfound confidence that I no longer feel that I have to hide my Huck crush. Here’s why he does it for me:
If my generation knows anything, it’s that geek-chic is hot. (Thanks, The O.C. and Weezer!) And Mike Huckabee is a total tool—in the very best sense. He’s a legitimate band geek who even has the requisite cheesy band name, Capitol Offense. He’s a minister, which is hot in that Thornbirds kind of way. Plus, is there anything sexier than the FairTax?
And this geek isn’t afraid to interview the “cool kids” on his show on Fox News. (Disclosure: I appear frequently on the network, though not—so far!—on his show.) He’s had Bill Maher, Dustin Hoffman, Lorne Roberts, and Oliver Stone, to name a few. But every once in a while, he’ll give a shout out to his über-dork roots (see: David Oreck interview). In true zero-to-hero fashion, he even went from flab to fab, shedding 110 pounds and then penning the obligatory how-I-did-it book. He’s warm and fuzzy, real and gutsy, and when he smiles, I want to dive headfirst into his dimples.
Nights out used to be spent wandering aimlessly through loud and crowded bars, looking for … something. But anything I found at the bottom of a martini glass runs a distant second to a night in with Huck and his kooky band of loveable sound guys and producers. He’s a reassuring nod to a more innocent time, when guys could quote Scripture without getting beat up.
New York City may be teeming with legitimate heartthrobs—hunky model/actor types with more “obvious” good looks. But I go for subtle sex appeal, and the pretty boys are a dime a dozen. I need something real. I need something Arkansan. I need something that lived in a trailer when his house was being redecorated. So move over, Chace Crawford and Zac Efron. There’s a new stud in town, and his name is Mike Huckabee.