Due to some obligations I had recently, I somehow ended up spending a ridiculous amount of time in Boulder. For two full weeks, I lived, breathed and shopped in the city of hippie and yuppie coexistence, and in getting to know the customs, I walked away slightly confused and utterly fascinated by the local wildlife. Much of my insight came from overheard conversations and random observations. These are my records:
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- Standing in the cereal aisle of Safeway, I'm trying to choose which type of Pop-Tart best suits not just my current mood, but also my future cravings. S'mores sounds tasty, but would I get sick of them over time? While making my decision, a man in cargo shorts, a backwards hat and flip-flops walks up next to me, talking loudly on his phone. "I don't see the organic Pop-Tarts," he says. "Why the fuck don't they carry organic Pop-Tarts? I hate these stupid chain grocery stores." He walks off, in a huff, apparently dissatisfied with the Pop-Tart situation, but not disheartened enough to drop his case of Vitamin Water.
- A man next to me at Mountain Sun is explaining Rocky Flats to a woman across the table using G.G. Allen as a metaphor. It's loud in the restaurant, but from what I can tell, he's using Allen's penchant to defecate on stage as an allegory for Rocky Flats' radioactive waste.
- Nobody seems to wear shoes here. Regardless of the "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" signs, people walk around barefoot on the hot concrete all day long. Sitting at a coffee shop, a man in khakis and button-up shirt is talking on an iPhone and sitting outside with no shoes on. His feet are black. I move inside. I can't enjoy a coffee with this man near me.
- There are so many social media and technology start-ups in Boulder, you can't go to a restaurant or bar without sitting next to one of their board meetings at some point. I've somehow ended up next to one of these at the Lazy Dog, a sports bar on Pearl Street I'd accidentally wandered into hunting for a burger the size of my head. "We need to hire separate people to handle Twitter and Facebook," a man behind me says. "They need to have individual voices, and they can't sound like corporate speak." I glance back. He's clean-cut, wearing sunglasses inside and has his hair slicked back. As a sort of nod to his Boulder-tude, he's got a pair of Tevas on. He continues to lecture his group on social media for an hour and a half.
- Boulder is a supposedly bike-friendly city, but it's not pedestrian-friendly. For most of my time there, I opt to walk everywhere, because it seems like wherever I try to go in my car, I can't make the left turn needed to get to my destination. Unlike in Denver, bikers tend to ride on the sidewalks here, which makes walking a perilous task. Every time someone refuses to shout, "On your left," I consider tackling them into the oncoming traffic.
- A college student at another bar I can't remember the name of (I spent a lot of time in bars) is talking with someone on the phone about his plan to write Genghis Khan fan-fiction. I feel like correcting him, "It's not fan-fiction, it's historical fiction," but I decide to let it go after he begins describing the story. His plan, apparently, is to have Buffy the Vampire Slayer team up with Angel and Spock and travel back in time to grab Genghis Khan, bring him back to the present (their present? Ours? Spock's?) and unleash him on the vampires camped out on the Enterprise. I wish I were making this up, but I also hope he actually writes this story and gets a billion-dollar contract out of it.
- Everyone is apparently assigned Boulder-clothes by the unseen hand of some omni-present fashion designer, or maybe it's just a checkpoint I missed on my way in. The stereotypes are, of course, just a passing glance at the city, but its hard not to believe them when you run into them so often. These aren't the dolled-up, pony-tailed dudes with Grateful Dead shirts I remember from when I was a kid.