When I say I’m unemployed, I only mean I’m not in the employment of non-resume-driven ranch work that I get through my family (ahhh, but it’s still taxed! Funny how that works, huh? Grown up life sucks sometimes.). My aunt and uncle have a ranch and orchard in Oregon and flourish during the autumn season, which means they have a lot of work that needs to be done and—oh man what a coincidence!—I’m unemployed. I work for them, enjoy it and come back to Portland with stories. Last weekend I worked at the farmer’s market in a smaller town, this week it was Portland’s. So many of the people at the farmers market were and are sweet and nice, if not unintentionally weird and hilarious. Between the posh hippies who go on exciting beginners hatha yoga retreats in exotic locations to further the process of finding themselves through Starbucks cups of frappawhatevers and the men and women who walk around in spandex bike shorts for no particular reason, it is easy to see that Oregon is unique and uniquely infested with chic urban stereotypes (or not).
In honor of October, here is an Oregon hippie in the Addams Family Values, for reference. Of course, I don’t know for sure that this is a legitimate specimen, but one look at the peasant shirt, the beads of symbolic spiritual significance, and floor length patchwork skirt, it is safe to assume, and a vital visual to my story.
In the smaller town, hippie chic is just catching on. There are vestiges of casual life beneath the VS Pink sweat pants and tennis shoe combinations, or beneath the orange brotanks, but sometimes you are caught off guard by comments of exceeding frivolousness. Oh, tell me more about how people just don’t understand your desire to ride a bike to nowhere and commune with your surroundings, PBR T-shirt wearing man. Oh, tell me how you bought that sweater at a thrift store and absolutely not at Free People or Anthropologie and how that tag in the sweater is just a misunderstanding. Oh, tell me how you really identify with the hippie culture, that’s why you drive your car to your parent’s McMansion.
But Portland? A beast of another color, like the horse in Wizard of Oz. The PFM is filled with people who are trying desperately to buy local but end up buying from commercial growers, wear full bike gear while perusing the park blocks, and people who are just assholes. There are a lot of sweet people, the kind who smile back when you greet them, those who exchange meaningless conversation with enthusiasm that says “I’m sorry you’re standing in the cold all day, and yes your product is really fucking delicious,” and the kind that treat people with general respect. Unfortunately, for every one of those, you have a few….weird-eggs. Not necessarily bad, some definitely are, but, uh, strange.
There are the people who just stare at you. The people who have no intention of buying anything that you’re selling, they just stare at the product and then move their gaze to you. Their eyes are usually horror-movie-possessed-child-blue, and they burn your soul for what feels like 800 minutes….even if it is for ten seconds.
Weirdness level? 2. Weird, but harmless.
The people who wear bicycling gear are paralleled in strange with the people who wear hiking gear who clearly do not hike. At 60 degrees and misting they’re in snow boots and a down jacket, emblazoned with a French nametag while boasting about their trips to the Alps where they picked it up because they felt they could splurge. They side-step puddles in their waterproof boots, they hide from the rain in their waterproof jacket, they carefully tuck their produce beneath their arm so it doesn’t get wet.
Weirdness level? 4. Try-hard.
You have the college students who are obviously new to…everything. Exact quote: “I’m just like, turning totally A.D.D. right now.”
Weirdness level: 6. rme.
There are the guys that hit on
me you, even when you are definitely not being friendly/chipper because you want to get into a 30-40 year old man’s pants, but because it is common decency to be nice when people are buying food from you. You schmooz or you lose (money). These guys? They think it’s all about them and start dropping lines left, right and center. “You know why the sun is shining?” “Why is that?” “Because I’m here talking to you. I should do it more often.” “Ha-….ha-…ha…..ha….yeah.” or “So, you going to be around next week?” “Yeah! Our stand is going to be here until the end of the market in December.” “Beautiful.” or HOW ABOUT NO. Have some consideration! I am not flirting with you, take some apples or whichever, but don’t be that guy. I just want to yell that there are so many available, potentially interested and, oh, may I mention, single, women who can occupy your time.
Weirdness level? Annoying.
The “wait, do you know where you are right now?” people. Today, while cutting up samples for lovely potential patrons to try, I had this doozy of a patron ask me a question. “These apples…So, like, what kind of organic are they?” I set down the knife and laughed, asking what the person meant and they stared at me like I was the stupidest person on the planet. They asked again and I said that we were certified and where we were based out of, and the blank stare continued as they slowly munched on the sample cut of the apple, looking as if they were going to spit it out. I admit, I sized them up, looking at what they bought and how they were handling the product, looking at every harmless scab of the fuji or the slight indentations of the enterprise. “But, are you really sure they’re organic? Or like, are they, like, store organic?” I reaffirmed the lack of pesticides, the locally grown-ness, and their deliciousness. They put the apple down and walked away.
Weirdness level: 7. I don’t know if your pretentious or a dumbass.
Lastly, the people who look like they don’t belong in Portland at all. With all of the hippie culture, the indie culture and the hipster culture abound, every once in a while you see something that just unsettles you, something that makes you queasy, something that makes you arch your eyebrows in a non-subtle way. Their girlfriend’s dog is tucked under their arm while she’s walking around in heels that scream I club at Dirty. Go back to the land of tans, gel, 5-innch daytime pumps and tight t-shirts…New Jersey.
Weirdness level? 10. Get da fuck outta heeerrrreee.
Ah, Oregon. Never change.