Are You A Beautiful And Unique Snowflake?

twinzies brah

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.


25 replies on “Are You A Beautiful And Unique Snowflake?

  • Aaron F

    Stereotypes; ahhhhhh, what nasty little things they are. Really though, they only matter as much as another person’s opinion of you matters to you.

    Is it better to be part of something than nothing? Or just more comfortable?

    With over 7 billion people on the planet I doubt that any style is unique anymore expect for personal journey to find it.

    In the end, isn’t it fun pulling into a parking lot, with your Subaru that has over 250K miles, roof rack/cargo box, granola bars, Chacos, and BLASTING the shit out of Black Moon gangster rap? Yeah that’s right people, better hid your children before they catch on too!

  • Laidlaw

    At least you recognize it! And at least the stereotype you choose to be a part of is well well into the minority of stereotypes. While it is weird that you ran into your Colo-rad-bro out of state, at this very moment, there are hundreds of thousands of men traveling out of state, and they are all meeting others like them: (1) briefcase, (2) Windows PC laptop, (3) dress pants, (4) long sleeve button down shirt, (5) short cropped hair, (6) clean shaven, (7) Amex card, (8) speaking corporate jargon like “I’m in down because we’re trying to credibly reinvent robust data to progressively exploit our enterprise-wide scenarios”

    • Klaus

      Haha, so true. You don’t wanna be part of _that_ minority. Although…I am not sure you can call the business-bro’s a minority, really.

  • Tiffany

    Today: Sensible yet unique government job, 17-year-old sensible Honda named Stella, nice shoes, jeans and a shirt (wait… all bought on sale or at second hand stores), a little make up but no shower, hair in ponytail, down jacket with duct tape patches, with a binder full of mountain rescue training and grant writing research next to me. Hmmm… I’m not sure what stereotype that fits, but it went downhill real fast. Thankfully, my conscious knows no different. :p


  • HW3

    “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.”

    “station wagon”? I think we know what make you’re talking about!

  • Rob

    Reading this in my black Cloudveil fleece pull over with my Australian Shepherd Kora next to me with my all-wheel drive, manual transmission Audi wagon with the thule cargo box with “Colorado NATIVE” and Access Fund stickers on it in the driveway and growler of local craft beer on the kitchen counter.

    That photo is hilarious.

  • Elle

    My husband rates a town’s outdoorsyness (and thus liveability factor) by the amount of Subarus and Vanagons parked downtown. Then we head to the local coffee shop where he is undoubtedly wearing the same red flannel fleece as the guy one barstool over. Story of my life!

  • Elle

    Ok, self-disclosure. I guess I’m not one to talk as I can frequently be found walking to Whole Foods for a chai on my way to yoga, while wearing Lululemon and chatting up the juice guy with his Om tattoo. Us yogis are just as bad!

  • Cupcake

    Spot on…again.

    But hey, some of us know this. Hey, I’m just this dude, you know, a speck on the earth, which is a speck in the universe. You feel important? Check this out:

    But then again, if one doesn’t live their vision, by sticking to the way they see things (whether or not it’s unique), than what’s the point? Stay steadfast on your outlook and don’t waver into the sea of blandness.

    There is no right or wrong way to live life, but if you can find comfort in living the way you feel is best for you, and not feel pressured to fit a mold, but you just happen to fit a cliche’, then so be it. Just live according to what feels right, and be bold, don’t let people walk on you.

    When it all boils down, unique isn’t what you look like or what you see, but it’s how you interact with others and with yourself, how you perceive everyday life, and how you bring it all back full circle to make your contribution. And it doesn’t need to be a “big” or “important” contribution either. I focus on two things every day:
    1) Do something nice for someone.
    2) Learn something new.

    Cupcake, over and out.

  • whispering

    Ha! Totally reminds me a class in college where two of my best friends and I, all from the College of Natural resources, were suggested to another class member that one of us might be able to help her with a certain concept. When she couldn’t figure out who any of us were, the teacher said “You know, the guys with the beards that usually where sandals, black fleeces, and cartharts …”

  • Kendall

    Great post, funny and…spot on.

    So a few years ago I took up a pursuit that turned all my previously easy stereotypes of me upside down. The pursuit? Bow hunting. Yep, one of those guys(did you stereotype me?) So now my Subaru with a ski rack on top of it is adorned by Easton and Hoyt stickers along side of Alta, Black Diamond and Mountain Khaki stickers. I pull up to trailheads in Sept and it’s unknown to others if I’ll step out with trail running gear, climbing gear or dressed in full camo bow in hand.

    So now I’m a backcountry skiing, dawn patrolling, leg shaving road cycling, rock climbing, backpacking, trail camera deploying, trail running, elk pursuing, bow shooting, father of 5 kind of guy….if there is such a stereotype. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter that much what I am, but who I am and re-learning that from that new addition to my world has re-taught me that.(basically what Cupcake said)

  • Kat_CO

    Consider yourself a valuable spokesperson with your honest appraisal of your look, your embrace of your lifesyle and your excellent writing on this blog. The best moments are when one looks like a stereotype, then opens their mouth and debunks it totally, like a sagging-pants, black-hooded, gangsta-wannabe kid who makes an extra effort to hold the door open for a stranger and then wishes them a nice day, or stands up in class and reads a beautiful poem they have written.

    Those moments always teach me to be less judgmental and I appreciate them.

    On the flip side, because I went to a Washington, D.C. university regularly ranked the “most politically active in the U.S.,” we had our fair share of run-ins with the negative stereotype. Once a year, we endured sit-ins where dreaded, unwashed groups of non-students would hang out on campus, play bongos, smoke hookah and verbally abuse each person who walked by in a suit with a Starbucks cup. Something about surrendering to capitalism. That didn’t exactly help their cause.

    But I have to ask, and PLEASE know that I don’t intend this to be mean, but how does the irregular showering fit in? Since moving to Colorado from Texas, I haven’t figured that one out. I work in Boulder and my office once had a part-timer who looked much like you and didn’t shower much. He was friendly and and a brilliant computer developer, but he smelled unpleasant, sometimes on a distracting level. I honestly don’t get it and would just love some perspective on that.

    Love your writing. Keep at it.

  • Hayden Beck

    I am reading this with dirt in my hair, three Pataginia clothing items on, a hemp bracelet with a BD hexentric on it that my climbing bud made for me, and with a mix of alpine touring, climbng, and mountain bike gear strewn across my room.

  • Chris k

    “one in a million” means there are three hundred just like you in the u.s. Embrace your tribe, bro. Fist bumps all around!

  • Sarah

    I really liked this, very funny and something my husband and I talk about frequently.
    Mostly because our kids are starting to dress and behave so similarly to how we did at their age. “borrowing” our gear and clothing
    It just kind of happens, and I couldn’t be more proud.

  • Humaira Falkenberg

    This gave me a great laugh! I wrote the below a week ago. Thought you and the readers on the thread would enjoy it, especially the last stanza.

    What should I wear?
    Business-wear or storm-wear?

    Monday morning: Boardmeeting or
    Friday evening: Stormwarning
    Dress for finessed success or
    Dress for the weather with durable press

    How we dress is not who we are
    Stitches of garments don’t seam my inner star.
    To be in my skin
    Comes with the peace of being within

    My favorite ivory eyelet laced Oscar de la Renta shirt
    Together with Yves Saint Laurent charcoal grey dress on alert
    Pixie dust lavender stilettos-G2’s of Sergio Rossi
    Beaded clutch in my hand is just so saucy

    Travel I to Tacoma, Bellevue, Portland and Olympia
    Looks my business suit a burlap sack if you suffer myopia
    Trimmed and fitted
    Pressed and crisped

    I maybe couture head to toe
    But I always prefer to be in the snow.

    Braves my Patagucci
    Over any Prada hoochie
    Powder bowl pants and jacket
    Keep me warm on any summit

    Ride I to Hood, Bachelor, Alpental, and Baker
    Dressed in black, look I like a Yetti undertaker
    Layered and covered
    Oakley goggled for the blizzard

    Any day, trade I my G2s for G12s
    Rossi for my Makalus
    Beaded clutch for Petzl Nomics
    Oscar de la Renta for BD skins

    What we wear isn’t who we are
    But what we do with what we wear
    Am I stitched to my business-wear?
    I choose my storm-wear!
    —Humaira Falkenberg, Copyrighted 2013.

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