Author Max Gross, role model for schlubs everywhere.
The dictionary defines a schlub as a person regarded as clumsy, stupid or unattractive. The Yiddish-derived word describes a hapless object of derision or scorn — basically, a loser.
But writer Max Gross has seen the other side of schlubs, championing them in a new book, From Schlub to Stud: How to Embrace Your Inner Mensch and Conquer the Big City.
It all started, Gross says, with reaction to the actor Seth Rogen, known for portraying slovenly slackers in the movies Superbad and Knocked Up.
Gross says he saw women getting all mushy after seeing Rogen in Knocked Up. "They'd say, 'He's so sweet. I need a dependable loser like that,' " he says. "My initial thought was: Come to papa!"
Gross, who works for the New York Post, wrote an article about the appeal of schlubs. He managed to get a book contract, and a girlfriend, as a result of the piece.
Schlubs, Gross says, are characterized by an attitude of bewilderment. They are befuddled by the details of everyday life that everyone else manages to navigate. But the same qualities that make schlubs clueless can also make them endearing.
"Harness your schlubbiness," Gross says. "Never forget your schlub roots."
Some people even manage to fake schlubbiness to their own advantage, he says. "You know instinctively, there's something in our brains that can tell us when it's the genuine article and when it's an affectation," Gross says.
It's apparently an area where authenticity matters, just not the way you'd expect. "The people who can affect it are generally cooler than the people who do it naturally," Gross says.