Sunday, October 27, 2013


Occassionally, Elise and I like to bring the kids to Union Market in Washington on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Originally opened at 4th Street and Florida Avenue NE, in close proximity to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Freight Terminal, after having moved from the markets original location on the current site of the National Archives, Union Market hosted 700 vendors of meat, fish, dairy and produce six days a week.

In 1962, however, the city banned the outdoor sale of meat and eggs, and the original market shuttered soon after. A revitalized market recently reopened as the home to several gourmet and artisan food vendors. We stop for coffee at Peregrine Espresso or Korean tacos at Takorean.

Most recently, we went to Union Market for an outdoor art market featuring bohemian t-shirt designs and other homemade crafts. On these visits, we find ourselves inevitably surrounded by a unique specimen of parent. The Hipster.

I recently asked Elise, "What is a hipster?"

She thought about it for a moment, and she answered, "You are."

I pondered this. I don't like to wear a scarf and don't own a fedora. I wear glasses on occasion, but they are hardly as stylish as the horn-rimmed variety worn by most hipsters. 

The Urban Dictionary defines a hipster as a "subculture of men and women, typically in their 20's and 30's, that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter." 

Well, that does kind of sound like me, with one big exception. I'm not in my 20's and 30's. The truth of the matter? I'm too old to be a hipster. 

As Elise browsed the stalls at the bohemian market, looking for cool t-shirts for the kids, I stayed with the boys in the "play area" (a corner of the market filled with cardboard boxes and empty Folgers coffee cans. Despite their primative nature, the "toys" were quite effective at keeping the little ones entertained while their parents shopped). Next to me, was a hipster dad. He wore horn-rimmed glasses, a plaid vest, and a newsboy cap. His hair was cropped short, and a wispy briar of whiskers sprouted from just below his bottom lip. He may have had lambchop sideburns. He wore one baby in a carrier on his chest, while his older daughter, sporting a Beastie Boys t-shirt and wearing a black skirt decorated in a pattern comprised of tiny human skulls, played near the boys. I tried to engage this man in casual conversation; on some instinctual, male level, I suspected we had a lot in common. The problem was I felt inferior. I just didn't feel cool enough. 

I am bereft of many of the cultural references hipsters use in casual conversation. I don't see many movies. Most of my music references are from the era when the Cure, the Smiths, and R.E.M. were considered indie. And I've never seen a single episode of "Seinfeld", much less "Mad Men", "Breaking Bad", "House", "Downtown Abbey", the popular show with the nerds, or whatever else is popular on FX, USA, HBO or Netflix. 

I have nothing against hipsters. If anything, I am jealous. I wish I could be or was a hipster. See, we didn't have hipsters in South Florida. There really was no culture to be counter to. Alas, neither Elise nor I really fit in to the Parrothead/5:00 Somewhere/Redneck Party Barge culture of South Florida. I think we are a lot more comfortable in a hip, urban environment. I won't speak for Elise, but I may just be a little late to the party. 

I guess I am hoping there is a demographic category I fit in. A subculture of men and women, typically in their early 40's, that value independent thinking, good, beer and dark coffee, progressive politics, an appreciation of fish tacos and distance running, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. I know they are out there, I just have trouble finding dads like me. I need to start my own movement; I just don't know what the Urban Dictionary would call someone who daydreams about driving their own taco food truck and making their own corn whiskey. 

As I write this I realize, I should be having my mid-life crisis any day now, but--as with many other things in my life right now--I just don't have the time for crises. I suppose that is a good thing. 

1 comment:

Lauren said...

I am so grateful we know you guys.

We need a posting together so we can talk about our almost hipster ways. We are here for you, we just need time!!

I love reading your posts Paul! I laugh a lot and just enjoy your writing voice. So glad to get to read your blog!