I told my friend Dan I was getting tired of having long hair, that I often fantasized about trimming all of it off and leaving just a quarter-inch, fantasized about 90-second showers, no messing with ponytails under helmets, knots, conditioner, paying for haircuts.
Dan, a curly-haired man himself who has more than once used the word “inspire” when describing Rob Machado’s bro-fro, said, “You should dread it.”
I said Nah, I’m already a long-haired, sandal-wearing vegetarian rock climber. With Colorado license plates. On my van. That I live in. Shouldn’t we all have a limit on our number of cultural stereotype check boxes?
You ever feel like you might not be so unique, that maybe you’re just wearing the uniform of a specific subculture? Ever walked up to a station wagon with a rack on top of it in the parking lot of a ski hill or trailhead, and then realized it was someone else’s station wagon with a rack on top? Whoops.
Sometime I catch myself (1) buying granola and organic yogurt in (2) Whole Foods, sporting a (3) ponytail and (4) Chacos and carrying my groceries out in a backpack instead of a plastic bag (5), and in that backpack is a (6) reusable water bottle and (7) coffee mug, and I get in my van with a (8) rocket box and (9) mountain bike on top of it, and the shuffle on my ipod picks a song from a (10) Bob Marley box set to play — well, I gotta scratch my chin and wonder: Am I myself, or am I exactly like Every Other Dude Who Wants To Be A Mountain Dude?
I used to help lead backpacking trips for inner-city kids, and on one of the trips, we all hopped out of the van at the trailhead in the Wallowa Mountains, and we discussed the food. One of the other adult volunteers said something about a vegetarian in the group, and one of the teenagers, Miguel, said Who’s a vegetarian, and I said I am. He looked at my sandals and said,
Do you drive a Subaru?
I laughed and said yes, I do. Pegged.
I volunteered with another group in California, and the other trip leader, Darin, and I, both flew out from Denver to pick up the kids in the Bay Area and head out for a week in the backcountry. Darin and I had met for the first time only days before and got along well. On the third day of the trip, Darin and I realized we were wearing almost the exact same outfit, down to the same brand of headlamp. The two white guys from Colorado, unintentionally perpetuating Colorado (ahem, Colo-rad-bro) stereotypes. See above photo.
My friend Jarrett asked me one time what I thought about a guy who was walking past us sporting a foot-high mohawk and full punk regalia, and I said I think it’s great that he’s doing his own thing. Jarrett said, Is he really doing his own thing, or is he wearing a uniform of people who love punk? I think about that sometimes. Then I think about how much I love wearing my smelly, beat-up black soft shell everywhere including restaurants with cloth napkins, and how much more I love to talk to people about rock climbing and national park trails than who’s dating who or reality TV or whatever.
Fellow dirt-lover: Put on your (1) puffy jacket with the duct-tape patches and get in your (2) all-wheel-drive station wagon/pickup with a topper, and we can fist bump at the (3) non-corporate coffee shop/Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour stop/crag/trailhead sometime, and (4) use the word “gnar” as a noun. I will be pleased to meet your (5) dog named Kaya and perhaps later buy you a (6) microbrew so we can exchange more (7) beta. Please be advised that I (8) do not shower that often.
Semi-Rad is brought to you by Outdoor Research.