Any of the hipster-cool status that I had once vowed to cultivate and nourish like a good sourdough starter has surely taken a lot of hits through the years. Historically, we are at odds. At twenty-seven or so, my right nostril fiercely rejected the delicate hoop I gave it like a bucking, snorting wild mustang - my nose seemed to be saying, "Um, did I just jump off your face to Siouxsie Sue's? I don't think so, poseur." - and I was left with an unsightly, pain-filled bump that I'm pretty sure actually pulsed. (Strike one.) My body similarly threatened to jump ship at the mere suggestion of hot, inky needles dredged across its many tender surfaces, cigarettes, industrial music (hearing about two ear-bleeding seconds of Einsturzende Neubauten in 1992 at the Vic made my Hebrew National-stamped posterior instinctively scan the balconies for a place in which to take cover), Burning Man, my hair worn any way but curly (strikes two through six, surely more than are allowed). This is not to say that I lived, or currently live, without my share of pretensions*, but, just as in high school I couldn't even fake preppy despite having a Florida swampland of Lacoste alligators chomping around in my closet freshman year, my particular DNA was equally opposed to embracing hipster-cool affectations. I had a friend in college who couldn't wear copper jewelry because her body chemistry oxidized it: in short order, bracelets would turn green. Similarly, I oxidize hipster-cool into something obviously against its own nature. We have had a troubled and turbulent affair. Actually, it's been a one-way relationship, Hipster-Cool chimes in indifferently from his permanent table at Earwax Café, where he blows out smoke rings from cigarettes that were never banned and enjoys his iPod, confident in each bands' inaccessibility and obscurity. Yes, I know that you never really loved me. (Guess what? I didn't love you either.)
All that being said, I don't know if I've had as much of a shattering blow to my few hipster-cool credentials - and I do have a few: I spend my days writing, I've been arrested at protests, my closet sings moody arias in the key of black - than my most recent Saturday night. We were meeting a friend and her toddler, and we decided to meet at a giant mall in the northwest suburbs. Yes, I agreed to spend my Saturday night at a place where the sickly-sweet aroma of cinnamon rolls burrows into the skin, where the spillover crowd waiting to get into the Rainforest Café is irritated with everyone, where clerks at Urban Outfitters sneer at those from Hot Topic. I spent my Saturday night at the mall. And I had fun!
Part of it is, okay, my friend is awesome and any time I spend with her is fun. Other than that, it's kind of hard to explain why I enjoyed my Saturday evening at the La Grande Latte (who gets the Seurat reference?) but I'm going to try. First, you have to understand that I live in a climate with a bitterly cold winter. Wandering down the street in search of entertainment with a six-year-old is not my idea of a good time when the wind is cold enough to make me cry involuntary tears. Second, there is a play area there where my son and my friend's son could play and so we could talk. Third, a decent place to get a stir-fry for a table full of vegans. Fourth, is this really so horrific?
The quote that is most memorable to me, though, is the one that pretty much summed up exactly how far I am from the hipster-cool persona I tried to cultivate through my twenties. One of us looked at the time and said, "So the mall closes in an hour, I need to go to Gymboree and you need to go to Urban Outfitters. Let's get going." (I'm not going to disclose who went where, but I will say that I am now in possession of a fine crochet hair thingy for the spring.)
Our old desires can languish a long time before they finally take the hint and die. By the end, we're just holding on because we like the idea of them. All the same, I don't mind letting this one wither. Goodbye, hipster-cool. We never really saw eye-to-eye anyway.
* I have a full and active roster of tattooed and pierced friends who brighten my world with their multi-colored follicles and "skin pictures" (what my son used to call tattoos), and there is not a pretentious one among them. Despite assumptions one might make based on appearances, my friend roster is entirely hipster-cool free.