The Hipster within and the Tight Pants Without.

I sit and re-adjust my glasses, pushing them hard against the ridge of my nose. That’s right, I think, I wear glasses. I have less than twenty-twenty vision. I choose thick frames because I want to be socially subversive. I now eat felafels, I now drink red wine and now these are my people. My Imaginary hands stretch out across the back yard like Moses parting the seas. I imagine addressing the group of people sitting around the backyard fire pit, their eyes glittering up at me with adoration.

Their glasses are filled with whiskey and their mouths with rattling tongues that click and prattle out against the night air. I am perched on the edge of a hard plastic chair, clicking my own tongue with the beat, but, unlike my fantasies I never actually take central stage. Truth be told I never even stick my head out from behind the wings, but merely nod my head in silent encouragement.

Regardless of my input, or lack thereof, I still can call these people ‘my people’- glasses wearing, tight-black-jeans-scooting, pouting, highly educated, pretendy Hipsters. Why be here and not at the pub? You may ask. It’s because I just escaped the pubs back home, and why was I escaping the pubs back home? Because I thought I wanted to be here . A few days after arriving in my new home I realised that for many people living in inner-city society makes people feel better than everyone else mainly because they can name a few Russian writers and construct an argument for or against consumerism at the drop of an expensive hat. That is, most of them but me. I fear I shall never be more than a mild percussion to their wild tongue music. Not because I don’t want to join in, but purely because I generally have no idea what they’re talking about.

“I’m just saying…” the Head of the Hipsters, Sandi, states while refilling her glass “people can only register injustices from their base conceptions of morality, which is derived from their theoretical conceptions of Holocaust.”
Other people’s mouths open and shut like fish blowing bubbles, all clicking and pouting. Disapproval and approvals fly across the fire pit. I wish so deeply to say something, anything, but all I can muster is and quiet and formal “Indeed” while the corner of my mouth curls in struggle against saying “Why are we talking about this again? Don’t we live in Melbourne? And how on earth is the holocaust involved when I stuff extra miscalculated change back into my purse?”

Think. Faster. I tell myself. This is sink or swim. And I am in the middle of the sink or swim sea- a place where if you swim in the right clothes, with the right toot to your whistle you’ll get picked up soon enough and taken to some exotic island where sex and acceptance roam free. Tootle the wrong tune on your rescue whistle while wearing a God-awful yellow puffy suit and the current will drag you back to whatever country town you came from. A town where you will most likely be forced to marry you cousin and shear sheep until you die from watching Neighbours repeats.

A quick sip of my drink and a deep lean back in my chair and I can regain concentration. Yes indeed, I whisper to myself, I am a glasses wearing, card-carrying citizen of inner Melbourne. I push the frames up again. Then I nod, nod like I’ve never nodded before. Well, I mean, I still technically nod with my head, something I did even when I still lived in the country, but now I am nodding like I mean it. I nod, like it’s MY theoretical conviction showing. Like I am the one doing the “Post-post-Modernism” inspired doctorate and not just selling bagels to strangers. I nod like I went to a private school, nod like I am very deep and not at all lost or bored by the conversation.

They continue jibbering and jabbering. Their sharp tongues flick off their teeth like flint. Sparks fly, faces blush with indignation and alcohol, a boy name Jonathan rolls a cigarette and puffs gray clouds into our faces. These people, my people, are happy to sit around on a Saturday night listening to Janis Joplin and talking about “double shot black Ethiopian blends” for hours. If Janis were here I don’t think she would say anything like that. If Janis were here she’d probably ask where the closest bathroom was then spend the rest of the night talking about the exquisiteness of a particular butter holder or the colour lilac. Maybe if she was here, instead of simply wafting through Jonathan’s speakers, we could talk about how small towns are better from a distance and I could tell her that taking heroin alone in a hotel room is a bad idea.

After thinking about Janis for a while accompanied by the clicking of my new friends’ tongues I begin to vague further and further out. Did I take my clothes out of the dryer? Did I forget to buy milk? If I don’t have any milk, I can’t make porridge tomorrow. Can you make porridge without milk? With only water? Would you even want to make porridge with water? Wouldn’t it just be wet oats? Wet flat cold oat-y bits? Oh fuck that. I’ll just have toast.

Just as I realise that toast is my best option I also realise the noise has settled. The back yard has collapsed into silence and everyone is looking at me. Was I thinking out loud? No, they’re looking because Sandi has asked me a question. Oh for fuck’s sake.

“So, Charlie, Char-lees, CHAR-lis-a. How do you like the city?’
“Good.”
“Better than the country.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“That wasn’t a question”
“Oh…”
“I mean it’s not like it really requires an answer. You can take that and use my rhetoric for free. An answerless question, a questionless answer. It’s beautiful actually, when you think about what rhetoric is… beautiful”

Oh my Lord. I think that may be the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard.

“Yeah, Err, beautiful…Indeed” I say. And then I nod.
“No really Charlise, we need your help us settle a little argument, will you?” Sandi winks at a boy sitting next to a large fern, he smirks back at her flirtatiously, which makes Sandi giggle. These people, my people, are supposed to be in their mid-twenties, but they look like drunken fifteen year olds who nicked their parents smokes. Sandi returns her gaze to me, pouts seriously before asking “Do you think people register injustices from their theoretical conceptions of Holocaust?”

I can’t believe she is still talking about this? It sounds like something she read in a book once and had tattooed on the back of her hand in case she ever wanted to intimidate someone at a party. I nod slowly while I think of an answer that doesn’t begin with, “I don’t really know…”

“Well” I begin, “It was pretty much the worst thing that’s ever happened, so many people died. I don’t think there have ever been so many deaths ever before….”
“Are you sure about that?” A man with tight black jeans asks from the back of his throat.
“Well, No, I’m not entirely sure, history is not my strong point. I’m pretty crap at history actually.”
Silence.
Janis has stopped singing as the CD needs changing. I don’t even have her to back me up.
“Well, I meant to say” I continue frantically, “ I know some… most… history. Who doesn’t. I mean, everyone knows that not so many things have died since… since…the dinosaurs. I mean, they all died. A whole planet of them, so maybe our injustices theoretical conceptions may have to do with that…too?”

They look at me as if to say that is that is the dumbest fucking thing they have ever heard.
I can’t help but nod my head in silent agreement.Perhaps I just have dinosaurs on the brain since re-watching Jurassic Park last night. It was a good movie, but not worth its weight in embarrassment.

They give each other a look over their whiskey glasses and I wish I never came to this stupid party, never came to stupid Melbourne, or could have had enough sense to turn up two hours late when they were all drunk enough not to notice me speak, or blame all of humanities moral corruptions on Dinosaurs. The silence is hanging over the backyard menacingly, the fire crackles, people silently sip their drinks and catch glances with one another. I realise I have only a few seconds left to get things right. To refuse to sink.

I push up my glasses. My glasses, that match My black jeans, and My stupid glass of whiskey. A stupid glass of straight up whiskey that I drink with MY new people. When I am comfortable I can band together my own raft and hold Sandi’s head under the swell with my foot. But not now. Now I must swim.

I throw back the remains of my glass and place it on the table next to me with devil-may-care abandon.
“I meant to say” I say casting a glance at Sandi, “Any answer I give will be all rhetoric won’t it? You know when you look up the definition of RHETORIC like you were saying before. How it’s using the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively. I mean, I could just have easily said dinosaur or holocaust, and it all come down to rhetoric doesn’t it. It’s like speech or discourse that pretends to significance but lacks true meaning… it’s beautiful really. Beautiful… when you know how to look a word up and use it in social situations.”

Sandi blushes lightly, and then nods slowly. The conversation is again awakened in all corners of the garden leaving me to sit happily pushing my glasses up and down my face. I pour myself another drink, hold it just so and nod like it means something, except this time I start to think it actually does.

****

This story is dedicated to My own dearest Saints of 120, who have always had all the ” Hip” with none of the “-Ster.”

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