I have found The Hipster nest.
In the process of moving earlier this month, I've yet to get my ridiculously overpriced cable and Internet hooked up, which has forced me to frequent a variety of small coffee shops and cafés located on almost every corner here in downtown Charleston. Typically, I'm a slave to my brands, so nine times out of 10 I go to Starbuck's on Lower King.
But today I chose a more local spot. I'll refrain from using names, but a clue might say it's on a street that rhymes with Shmarket.
One other side note you should know: I love nature. I was raised practically in the middle of the woods, off a county road, down a quarter-mile dirt "driveway." I enjoyed the perks of living so far away from civilization—hunting, fishing, camping, but probably most of all, I enjoy being around wildlife in their natural habitat, doing whatever "wildlife" does.
Now I live in the middle of one of America's oldest cities, and a pure-bred pedigreed dog being taken for a "walk" in a stroller is about all the wildlife I get to see.
Then came The Hipsters.
Hipsters are my new wildlife. I like to watch them in their natural habitat. I like to watch them do whatever hipsters do. I like to see the crazy outfits they come up with, and how each one of them expresses how unique they are, exactly like each of their friends do. Sometimes I go places where they congregate and, like today, instead of doing whatever I originally planned to do, I watch them like I'm Jane Goodall in the Congo. I am by no way passing judgment on the way anyone dresses or lives their life.
Yes I am. This is my blog.
Let me see if I can paint a picture here.
When I walk into the coffee shop, the guy behind the counter has an extra small t-shirt on with some band name I've never heard of and an extra large conductor hat. Yes. A conductor hat... like the pin-striped, small-billed hat old coal-burning locomotive conductors wore. He hasn't shaved in at least a few months. Everything on the menu is organic and extremely overpriced. I order "Uh, regular tea? On ice? Do ya'll have that?" He tries to upsell my order with all kinds or organic goat milk and some other weird sugar extract I've never heard of. When I decline and pay, he thanks me with, "Thank you, brother." I pick a safe spot in the corner next to what looks to be one of "my people:" a guy, we'll name Joe, in a polo that's a brand I recognize, shorts that fit, and weather-appropriate footwear.
As I survey the room, I notice a long table in the center of the shop filled with seven or eight mid 20s having a serious, almost heated conversation. I open my computer and put in my headphones and, as happens in most coffee shops, instantly become invisible. I usually play some music to tune out any distracting noise, but not today.
Today I'm Hipster watching.
There's one hipster, I'll call.... Asher. Probably 5'9", maybe 135 lbs., clean cut haircut and a five-month beard. He has a white button-up that is at least two sizes too small, sleeves rolled up, and tail tucked into khaki pants his legs are screaming to get out of. They are rolled up to the knee. He has heavy wool socks on and what appear to be full ankle coverage hiking boots. In August. In Charleston, South Carolina. Elevation above sea level. 18 inches. Accessories are minimal but he does have Rayban Wayfarer styled thick-rimmed glasses.
To his right is a young lady who we'll name Harmony. She has bleached denim shorts that are higher on her torso than they are long on her legs. She has tucked into them a denim button up short-sleeve, buttoned to the top button with bright red suspenders. Her dreadlocks are somewhat tucked into a round, flat-brimmed straw hat gentlemen in the 1920s used to wear. She has a piercing in her lip, nose, eyebrow, and from what I could count, 13 between both ears and Rayban Wayfarer styled thick-rimmed glasses.
That's when something red and flashy catches my eye from outside. It's a motorcycle. No. It's a motorcycle with a damn sidecar. Like, a real motorcycle with a sidecar, that you see in old movies and where else... I don't know, the circus? Off hops what has to be the most extreme type of Hipster. The lion of the Hipster World. The head honcho.....
The Well Funded Hipster.
He, let's say....Blaze, takes off his matching red helmet to show hair to his shoulders and of course, a solid six-month beard. The helmet is one of those full coverage ones, because safety and good health are very important to Hipsters, save the cowboy killer Marlboro Red he lights up outside to prepare his palate for the delectable organic tea journey he's about to embark on. After "brother" thanks him at the counter, he proceeds to give each and every patron apparently waiting for him at the table at least a 10-second hug.
Stop right now and count to ten.
That's how long each and every hug was. If I wasn't creeped out by that, the cheek and forehead kisses he gave both male and female friends alike pretty much did it. He had a v-neck t-shirt on and I swear the V went to his belly button, painted on skinny jeans and you guessed it, heavy thick socks and hiking boots. Unlaced.
I can't help but watch them. I'm so excited that I've happened upon this "pot-o' hipster" so close to my apartment. I can't keep my discovery to myself.
The conversation is heating up. There are handouts being passed around. I can't help but listen in, though it wouldn't necessarily be called eavesdropping—this shop is small and they're getting loud. I was expecting them to be talking about some political issue, rejecting the mainstream materialism Wal-mart is destroying America with or some dope new poetry reading lounge. I was wrong and had to look down to hide my ear-to- ear smile when I heard why.
"Meat is the enemy! All living, breathing beings have a spirit and we have to stop the senseless slaughter of these spirits. If you eat meat, you're a murderer. Seriously guys." —Harmony
That happened. Those words were actually spoken with a deep conviction, and received with slow nods and twists of mustaches as though it were a holy text being read in some sacred temple. They were having some sort of anti all-animal products meeting, to spread awareness and strengthen the movement. I had to admire their passion. They were serious about their cause and were exploring ways to demonstrate their disdain for the consumption of animal products. Picketing Harris Teeter, Crosby's Seafood, and even taking a field trip out to some beef farm in upstate South Carolina were put up for discussion. No real plans were nailed down, because the conversation quickly moved from how horrible meat is for your digestive system and then to Asher, Blaze, and Harmony each "one-upping" each other with recycling techniques and the dedication to a world free of commercial materialism.
I couldn't take much more so I turned my music up and continued with my work. All that talk about how horrible meat was made me want to eat something... something full of commercial grade beef. And cheese. I immediately walked home, got in my gas-guzzling SUV and drove to Wendy's.
Did you know they will put as many patties on a cheeseburger as you want? Seriously, if you say, "Give me a #3 (which has 3 all-American beef patties) and put 7 extra patties on there" they'll do it! I believe my spirit animal is an Angus beef cow. The 2,178 calories (actual count) were quite delicious and I thought about my Hipster friends back at the coffee shop. Who am I to say what is an acceptable style of dress or length of facial hair? Who am I to say the uneven sidewalks of downtown Charleston don't deserve hiking boots. Who am I to say all animals don't really have spirits?
Fact is, my cheeseburger with 10 beef patties had something a little extra in it that made me feel pretty special. Maybe it was a spirit, maybe it was just the MSG, either way, I was glad I could enjoy it as freely and as passionately as my friends could refuse it.
I hope to cross paths with my Hipster friends again soon. I love a good iced tea while I observe the species interact in their natural habitat. Maybe I'll get to experience another sighting. Maybe, like Jane, I'll gain their trust and be accepted into the group.
Guess I'll be in the market for some new shoes and reading up on how to be a hipster.