NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- From out of the West come glorious sunsets, the jetstream, the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver and social quivers and quakes that reshape American life, from roller skates to open marriage.
'Look, ye,' the sage says, 'upon the ways of the Californians _ strange though they seem _ for as they are today, so you shall be tomorrow.'
Get ready for the latest social movement blossoming by the Pacific:
'In' is out.
Toss out those gold chains, plant petunias in the hot tub and hang up your cowboy hat. Avoid 'relationships' with romantic partners called 'friends.'
Put on your white socks and black shoes, cork the white wine, order a beer and trade the Porsche for a Rambler.
This is the creed of The Dull Men's Club, founded for those who are tired of the desperate race to stay 'in touch,' to keep up with whatever is declared fashionable today and ridiculous tomorrow.
This backlash of the anti-trendies is growing, say officers of the society.
Societies, actually. The original group in San Francisco has already sparked an offshoot in Southern California and the wave moves on to Iowa next week.
'I started the club in January and already we have over 400 members,' said the founder and president, Joe Troise of San Francisco, a writer of consumer guides for auto buyers.
'It's a cry for common sense. People are being driven crazy by the tension of the need to keep up with the latest fad and always be with-it and aware.
'We're international. We have members all over the United States and in Canada, England, Australia, Germany and Argentina. This is not an American disease we're fighting, but a malaise of the western world.'
Successful applicants are charged $5 dues, for which they get a bumper sticker in dazzling black and white _ 'out of it and proud of it' _ and a license entitling the bearer 'to be uninteresting whenever he pleases with no penalty or prejudice incurred.'
'If you feel under pressure to be interesting at a social function, you just hold up your license, and they have to leave you alone while you have a few quiet drinks.
'On Oct. 17, we're sponsoring 'Dull Day' as part of the Oktoberfest in Carroll, Iowa, a project that began when I told a reporter we need a 'dull hall of fame.'
'He asked where it would be located. Just out of the blue I suggested Carroll, Iowa. Four or five days later I got a phone call from the mayor of Carroll, who said: 'We're really pleased _ we're always geting kidded in Iowa about being dull anyway.'
'They're getting a building ready for our hall of fame and museum of the ordinary _ ashtrays from the 50 states, portraits of individuals of accomplishment who had absolutely no charisma, like Ozzie Nelson and Vice President Mondale, stuff like that.'
While the mother church of the uncharismatic handles its membership by mail from San Francisco _ perhaps the most 'in touch' city of all _ the Southern California chapter meets almost daily in Newport Beach _ almost equal in stature as a Mecca and Jerusalem of the enemy trendies.
'We're a group of about 15 to 25 who meet every morning for coffee at Eli Greene's Saloon,' said lumber merchant Stephen G. Freeman.
'We run the gamut from millionaires to bums, from a guy who has a waterfront mansion to another guy I think sleeps under the railroad trestle.'
The Southern California chapter has no connection to the original group. ('I've heard of those guys,' commented Troise. 'I wish they'd give me a call or something.')
'We're much too casual for that,' responds Freeman.
'I saw an article on the first group and all of us down at Eli's thought it was a good idea. We thought, 'What the hell, let's give our group a name and affiliate with this wonderful society.'
Although they kept the 'Dull Men's Club' name, the southern group even has women members, three of them _ at least one of whom borders on the madcap ('as a hobby, she sells balloons in big bunches for parties and things.')
'We admit that's a little trendy,' Freeman admits, 'like we're giving in to the ERA people, but that's our only concession. They're all lovely ladies and they were part of the group before.
'Besides, any woman who meets our membership requirements won't steam up any guy's glasses _ and our members are so unaware they wouldn't even contemplate any ferkytootling.
Do you think Gucci is something you say when you tickle a baby under the chin? Do you wear short gray socks and brown shoes with a blue suit? Do you miss white toilet paper?
You, too, can be officially a Dull Man.
The rules of the Dull Man's Club (both San Francisco and Newport Beach branches) are flexible to a degree. 'We don't shove the rules down anyone's throat,' says chief San Francisco dullard Joseph Troise.
'We're a forgiving fraternity, and you can be dull in creative ways.'
But some conduct is clearly proscribed.
'Any member ever mentioned in Jody Jacobs column (of society doings in the Los Angeles Times) will be banished,' decrees bylaw II of the Newport Beach branch, headed by Stephen Freeman.
Herewith a capsule guide for the boring man and aspirants to membership:
Troise _ 'Our people do not hang glide. We let in one guy because he complained that hot tubs made his swimming trunks baggy. Anyone who wears trunks in a hot tub is our kind of guy.
'It's a good sign if you secretly like to bowl, and having an American car helps.'
Freeman _ 'Jogging is forbidden but members can ride a bicycle if they don't buy a fancy suit to do it in. Sailing is fine if you wear mechanics pants, a white t-shirt and Red Ball shoes. But only on a real boat, not those little catamarans.'
Both _ 'Nobody in any kind of sensitivity training.'
'It's good if you get taken for an off-duty cop,' says Troise. 'White socks with black shoes are good. Anyone in a silver metallic Porsche jacket is out. No cowboy boots or hats or other western wear unless you are actually on a horse at a ranch.
'The Sears Roebuck catalogue used to be the epitome of our style, but Sears is getting dangerously trendy these days.'
'Brooks Brothers or J.C. Penney,' says Freeman. 'No three-piece suits. No gold chains. Never anything from a boutique in Palm Springs. If a tuxedo is required, one of the old black jobs with wide lapels and a boiled white shirt _ no colors or slanted pockets.'
'And you don't get your hair styled, you get it trimmed at a barber shop where they read the Police Gazette.'
'Corn flakes for breakfast,' says Freeman. 'Never decaffeinated coffee. No beef Wellington and vichysoisse for lunch if you can get a ham and cheese sandwich and bean soup.
'Anyone interesting enough to pay a buck and a half for a bottle of seltzer water because they call it Perrier is not welcome,' says Troise. 'Also any vegetarians who are so serious about it they scowl at people eating hamburgers.'
Freeman _ 'We're not fond a' Jane Fonda, and very negative on Sammy Davis Jr. W.C. Fields is one of our heroes and we like Dick Cavett.'
Troise _ 'Robert Young is the man for the '80s. And Hugh Beaumont from 'Leave It To Beaver.''
Freeman _ 'Reagan, but not if you're enthusiastic about him.'
Troise _ 'We still like Harold Stassen. He wouldn't hurt anybody.'
'Nobody gets in who is having a 'relationship' with somebody he calls a 'friend' or a 'roommate',' said Troise.
What should a proper member call the woman he lives with?
What if he isn't married to her?
'We've never had one of those.'
Troise _ 'Send a letter in the spirit of the thing to 3364 22nd street, apt. 7, San Francisco, 94110.'
Freeman _ 'Don't bug us. We have as many members as we want now. We hardly communicate with each other, and if anyone writes to us, we won't answer.'