08 August 2006

blue states lose in my very own backyard

ever wonder where hipsters come from? they roam the streets of whatever neighborhood's hip this week in brooklyn, hair side-swept, jeans super-skinny, and just way too cool for anything. detached. and you can't help from wonder - where do they come from? what were they like as children? do they have parents? grandparents?

well, i can finally tell you: yes they have parents and grandparents, and cousins, with whom they hid under the seder table when they were five and looking for the afikomen.

this past sunday all sorts of family and old people convened on my grandparents' deck to celebrate my grandfather's upcoming 80th birthday.* i find these sorts of gatherings initially painful but then mostly nice, after i've gotten past my intense reluctance to engage in the requisite q&a. i hate that shit. tell every one of my grandparents' friends, and my mom's cousins, and everyone else, that i live in the city, i work at a theatre, i do new play development, and yeah, i'm really happy, i really love it, thanks. that's the worst part - the interrogations always end with a smiling "and so you're happy?" what if i'm not?! seriously, what the hell kind of question.

but all of that routine got wiped away by a sight - hipsters, right in my grandparents' kitchen! okay, i knew who they were when i walked in, but that almost made the shock worse. my mom's cousin, which i think makes her my second cousin? first cousin once removed? which means she's basically like an aunt except for a technicality, mentioned that her two sons (who somehow i guess are also my cousins?) were inside. awesome - i'd recently spent a 6am busride with this cousin/aunt woman and learned that these cousin-guys were doing appropriately cool things for the lower-east-side-raised children of artist/educator types, who weren't allowed to watch tv as kids. the older one, who i think is 21, is a writer, and the 17-year-old just made his first short film. it's the kind of stuff that makes me feel lazy and fat and ashamed that i devote so much attention (and writing) to project runway.

so i walk into the kitchen, and wham! hipsters. like for reals hipsters. like blue states lose hipsters. (okay, it was actually wham! my little cousin's six-foot-four and then wham! he's also a hipster.) complete with, for the younger one, a stick-thin little girlfriend. i'm used to feeling like the weird kid at these family things - black hair, dark clothes, works in the theatre - but damn, i was totally upstaged. my urban outfitters get-up (i wore a shirt with skulls to a family party! skulls and what's maybe a jesus.) had nothing on these kids: ironically swept-about hair, detached boredom, aviator glasses, expensive-looking skinny jeans, and yes, cowboy boots.**

(not my actual cousins)

the one thing my sister and i didn't understand, though, is when they went to sit by the pool, one of them took off his shirt. isn't that against the hipster code? because, first of all, hipsters are skinny and pale.*** but second of all, that seems like some sort of recognition of the 85-degree heat that the cowboy boots are in such flagrant disregard of. je ne comprends les hipsters pas.

now, i know, it seems sort of meanspirited to be blue-states-losing my two very sweet cousins.**** i had similar hesitations about writing about them. but my interest is mostly just anthropological - i found it interesting, that these kids i hadn't seen in five-plus years had grown up to be this thing i think i know, to fit this category i already have in my head - a category and type of thing inherently dissociated from ideas of family and little-kidness by its too-cool-for-schoolness. and also i saw their myspace pages and these kids are not afraid of the internets.

*check this out - how many of you will ever be ages that rhyme with your name? okay, no numbers rhyme with "norman." but i call him zaidi, and check it - zaidi's turning eighty. how cool is that?

**so there's your answer to that question - hipsters do still wear their cowboy boots to an outdoor pool party for their elderly relatives.

***and oh my god are my cousins skinny. there were actually lots of skinny cousins around. and tan. all these olive-skinned skinny people that i'm allegedly related to. what genetics raffle did my immediate family lose?

****well, the one who talked at all was very sweet. not that i tried to talk to his younger brother at all, but i didn't catch a word from him all day. but seriously, at least the one - good person. we had a good talk. and he's a good writer, too.


Jeremy said...

I too hope to one day converse with some of these hipsters, perhaps in a nice neutral environment that is not the L train or Galapagos.

Jaime said...

but, see, on the L train they make sense, it's where they're supposed to be. when they're at your grandparents house, and they're allegedly people you've known since you were two, it's very very strange.

Anonymous said...

1. I can't believe you just said "the internets"
2. That way maybe the funniest post you ever made, as least to me.

-the sister