Andrew Maykuth Online
The Philadelphia Inquirer
November 16, 1991
The ultimate Regular Guys
Aw, shucks, one of 'em had to finish first.

NEW YORK - For a moment in yesterday's contest to name the most Regular Guy guy in America, it looked as if Ramon Zabriskie might be surging into the lead. A flash of recognition crossed Zabriskie's face after a panel of judges asked him to name the ingredients that go into meatloaf.

"Meat!" said Zabriskie, a father of two from Orem, Utah.


But then, in a matter of minutes, Zabriskie cast serious doubt on his qualifications as a real Regular Guy. He was unable to name any Big 10 football teams, struggled to name three Chevrolet vehicles ("I own a Dodge!") and admitted that he owned no power tools.

Zabriskie's lapses probably cost him the crown during the finals of a nationwide competition to find the quintessential Regular Guy in the country - "the ultimate, down-to-earth, all-American guy."

Each of the four men who took to the stage of a New York nightclub yesterday was a finalist in the search to find that special guy who "lived the homier lifestyle long before it became an emerging trend."

"They're content to lead the simple life," said the contest's sponsors, "with a comfortable flannel shirt on their backs, meat and potatoes in their stomachs and the joys of football filling all other senses."

Almost 4,000 men entered the contest, most of them nominated by their wives and girlfriends. The women wrote brief essays about their men and mailed in snapshots of them engaged in ordinary activities, such as fishing and hunting, according to the sponsors, Aqua Velva aftershave lotion and Good Housekeeping magazine.

The contest was a celebration of everything Americans are said to admire now that the glitzy 1980s are history - mainstream views, orthodox values, sober behavior, and people who use the word neat.

"Some people think a regular guy sounds like somebody who's boring," said Dave Harhai, 26, a teacher, volunteer firefighter and coach from West Homestead, Pa., near Pittsburgh. "But the way I look at it, I'm the last to follow any trend or fad."

Harhai, who is single, 6-foot-8 and listed his favorite book as Sports Illustrated, was judged to be "The Most Regular Regular Guy" by a panel of radio and television personalities, as well as a "regular gal" from Brooklyn.

Perhaps it says something about Pennsylvania that two of the finalists were from the Keystone State. The other was Ted Case, 42, the manager of a Hardee's Restaurant in Doylestown.

"I was really flattered, I really was," said Case, who lives in Perkasie, drives a station wagon, and chops wood for relaxation when he is not working 14-hour days delivering morning newspapers and flipping burgers.

"It's really nice," said Case, speaking before the contest like a true Regular Guy. "I'm going to give it 100 percent, like I do everything else. I'm going to give it my best shot."

Case won the Regular Guy obstacle course - the contestants had to put on a flannel shirt and roll up the sleeves, apply some aftershave lotion, sit in a lawn chair, open a six-pack of soda, rip open a bag of potato chips, find the sports section of a newspaper, and then pitch the wadded pages into a wastepaper basket.

They also hammered nails into a board, assembled a model car, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Despite the often ridiculous nature of the competition, the stakes were high: The winner got a trip to the Super Bowl and free season tickets to the pro team of his choice.

With emcee and television football announcer Dan Dierdorf urging them on, the four competitors answered questions that most Regular Guys would consider elementary.

Zabriskie, a recreational therapist at an adolescent psychiatric center and an avid fisherman, appeared to be on a roll after he recited the recipe for meatloaf and answered a question about his favorite holiday: "Generally, it's my own birthday."

Jim Haine, 62, a retired furniture mover who lives in a mobile home in Newport, Wash., gave the perfect Regular Guy response to a question about his favorite restaurant. "Mr. Steak," he said, where he added that he always ordered the beef.

The competition involved more than just a few questions, however.

There were testimonials from the women of the Regular Guys and skits by the men in which they demonstrated their skills.

Most of the fellows said they had always viewed themselves as Regular Guys, which they did not want confused with Ordinary Guys.

"A regular guy is loyal and trustworthy and helping and giving," said Haine. "We're involved in our church a lot and I make things in my shop and I just give 'em to people." He brought along a bag full of his wooden trivets and clothes hooks that he had made.

For most of the men, it was the first time they had won anything in their lives. "You're an average homebody type of person, like they say I am. You don't get that much recognition from a company or something," Haine said in an interview.

But the lack of recognition ended yesterday for Harhai, the toothy, affable Pittsburgh Pirates fan who was nominated by his girlfriend after they heard about the contest from a radio advertisement that was playing while they stood in line to go down a water slide.

"I said, that's him," said his sweetheart, Laura Stearns, who let out a scream yesterday when Dierdorf announced Harhai had won. "He's the king of the regular guys." home page   
Recent news
  | Africa coverage  |  Archives  |  Afghanistan coverage  |  E-mail from Africa  |  Magazine articles | Photographs  |  Bio 
African Odyssey
  |  Apartheid's Secrets  |  Democracy's Promises  |  The Forgotten Wars  |  Rwanda: Aftermath of Genocide

Copyright 2001-2006 Andrew Maykuth