Not 1960’s hippies. I mean modern-day hippies. I guess you could call them progressives. They would probably call themselves “conscious humans” or something like that. People for whom organic is good, local organic is better, and really you should just be growing your own produce in your back yard. You know, hippies.
There was this guy in my college dorm freshman year. At our end-of-year dorm awards, he won by virtue of a write-in category. He was dubbed “most self-righteous.” I’ve actually mentioned him in a blog before, years ago (on myspace—that’s how many years ago we’re talking about… whoa, 2006, I just went back and checked). Anyway, Mr. Brett Hall Self-Righteous 1991-1992 was a proselytizing vegan, and used Dr. Bronner’s soap in the shower, when he showered at all, which was not very frequently because of water conservation. He didn’t use deodorant either. He was pretty much a skinny smelly bummer. I wasn’t a hippie yet at that point. I recycled and stuff, and I listened to The Smiths “Meat is Murder” CD, but it hadn’t really occurred to me yet that maybe meat was murder. Because mmmmm… bacon… yummy.
During my 10-year stint in the San Francisco area, I had a brief tango with vegetarianism and a much longer period as a non-mammal-eater (that was ultimately doomed from the start because mmmmm… bacon… yummy). I was never really a hippie by San Francisco standards, but by the standards back east, I definitely qualified. I picked up all sorts of fantastic politically correct affectations, like saying “go forward” when giving directions at an intersection rather than “go straight.” I gave up use of the word “lame” because it might be offensive to those with physical mobility handicaps. I learned a few different systems of invented gender-neutral pronouns (sie, hir, etc.), and learned how to gracefully and without embarrassment ask someone what gender pronoun they preferred when it was not immediately obvious. I knew which fish species were absolute no-nos because of overfishing, and I remember when the grape boycott ended. Grape boycotts are sort of the epitome of bummer, although that Target boycott last year was even worse.
It’s been six years or so now living on the east coast, and a lot of my hippie ways have survived. I think about my footprint, and try to reduce and re-use where possible. I use canvas grocery bags. I carpool when I can. When I talk to my kids about love and marriage, I always leave same-sex relationships in the mix as an option. I compost. I try to buy local. I care about fair trade.
But even though I still sort of self-identify as a hippie, they’re just really a bummer sometimes. Like when you just saw Avatar in 3D and you were totally swept up in the shiny pretty movie magic, and then some hippie starts talking about the “white savior” thing and how the movie was racist. And you’re like CRAP! Because of course they’re right, and now you can’t not see it. And like when you’re feeling all patriotic and caught in a groundswell, and then people start talking about how we’re celebrating violence and death, and more than ten of your hippie friends on facebook have posted that “Hate cannot drive out hate” MLK quote. Sigh. Bummer!
What is really a bummer is that they are totally right. The hippies are always right. God, it’s so annoying. I know, hippies. I know I should eat kale. It’s, like, sooooo good for you. But kale chips DO NOT taste like potato chips. They taste like crunchy kale. And tofu is just not as delicious as a bacon cheeseburger on a white flour non-whole-grain bun. And I’m sorry, hippies. I have tried. But I can’t stop drinking Diet Coke.
I love you, hippies. Because of you, I can get veggie burgers and fair trade chocolate and organic foods in all of the grocery stores near me. Because of you, wonderful hippies, even the generic cheap store brand milk doesn’t have weird hormones in it anymore, and reusable water bottles can be conveniently picked up at every single store in America from Old Navy to Toys R Us. Thank you, hippies. You are awesome. Keep doing what you’re doing. But please understand if, once in a while, I would love it if you would all just pipe down.