Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chapter 99: The Elusive Hipster

The Appalachian Trail is home to thousands of animal species, from the Alces alces to the Ursus Americanus. Perhaps the most elusive of all, however, is the Homo eirōneus, or Hipster. Although the hipsters' conservation status remains that of "Least concern," they are rarely seen outside of their native habitat in stylishly dilapidated urban areas, and Portland, Oregon.

On a bright Friday afternoon—at the end of a relaxed, otherwise forgettable 19.6 mile day—I had the privilege and distinct pleasure to witness a group of hipsters out on their semiannual "ironic" vacation. Which, on this occasion, took them to the remarkably drab and excitingly primitive William Brien Memorial Shelter, located an audacious sixty miles from their home in Brooklyn. I was sitting by the shelter, making idle conversation with my fellow thru-hikers Kashmir and Sonic, when the flash of an orange sneaker signaled their imminent arrival.


"So where are y'all from?" I asked the newcomers, amused by their preponderance of doofy hats, skinny jeans, and vaguely stylish eyewear.

The hipsters hovered anxiously around our fire circle, as though unsure of their presumed eventual inclusion. Wary, Kashmir and Sonic looked to me for direction. I shrugged. I wasn't about to exclude them.

"Brooklyn," offered one.

I nodded, my suspicions confirmed. "You're hipsters."

"W-What? No!" the man protested, laughing. "We're not hipsters!"

Me thinks they doth protest too much. I winked at Kashmir, rolling my eyes.

"Whereabouts in Brooklyn?" I continued, trying to assuage their growing apprehension. "I know the area, I used to live in the city myself."

They eyed each other nervously.

"Williamsburg," one offered timidly, only to be glared at, tacitly admonished by his companions.

"Hipsters," I repeated, shaking my head.

"We're really not," another assured me, grinning uneasily. "What makes you think we are?"

I shrugged.

"What do you guys do? In Williamsburg?" asked Kashmir, to their general astonishment. The shorter bearded one speaks!

The first man stuttered, obviously made uncomfortable by the direction the conversation was taking, and the general line of questioning.

"We're animators," another finally mumbled.

I guffawed. "You're animators? And you live in Williamsburg? You're hipsters!"

"Well, where did you live?" asked the man with the grin, clearly trying to change the subject.

"My apartment was in the Park Slope, Windsor Terrace area," I yawned.

"Park Slope?" the man smirked. "I guess that makes you a rich lesbian!"

"Right," I said, as the hipsters giggled and congratulated each other. "Well, I do love titties."

And that shut them up.

Or maybe I'm just an ass hole.

Defeated, the hipsters mulled retreating to their inconveniently far-off tents. Kashmir and Sonic earnestly professed an honest curiosity about their livelihood, however, so we didn't lose their company for the night. I felt slightly bad for teasing them, even if I did call them out accurately for what they were. But my regrets were easily forgotten as we bonded over shared reminiscence of life in the city, and the business. Kashmir was excited to learn that the hipsters' crowning professional achievement as animators was a cartoon music video for an independent Australian rock band. Not bad. I wasn't surprised. Or that impressed.

The day had taken me across baren mountaintops; through vast, ethereal fields of blueberry bushes; and past vistas of the distant New York City, still shrouded in an unenviable haze of choking smog. I had thrown myself towards the black, sludgy run-off of a grotesque, stagnant pond to desperately suck down its life-sustaining waters. I had deftly danced around the Lemon Squeezer, an obstacle course of laughable difficulty and curious brevity. And, through it all, I had managed to not have another nervous breakdown, starve to death, or heinously offend any random strangers. Much. Things were looking up. Indeed, tomorrow I would be climbing Bear Mountain; crossing the Hudson River; and meeting up with a particularly kind and hospitable friend of a friend, to stay at her home.

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