I’m an art student in New York City, which is the epitome of being a hipster. And I want to be a hipster. I want to master every fragment of alternative culture so I can come up with my own unique and hilarious opinion and explain it to you in a way that is relatable and relevant. I want to be avant-garde. I want people to look at me like I’ll be the next great artist, because I can make the popular kids care about all the weird shit I’m thinking without ever looking like I’m trying too hard.
But honestly, most of the people I naturally end up befriending are so unhip that they don’t even get the significance of art school or New York. In short, I am not cool. This is because:
1. I’m not going to tell you my IQ score over a six dollar pitcher of PBR. In fact you’d have to pay me six dollars to drink PBR. Ditto for Schlitz and anything else you drink to pretend you’re a middle-aged white man just off his shift at an Akron, Ohio rubber factory in 1942.
2. Some people tell me I dress like a hipster, but I can’t find a single piece of clothing at American Apparel that I’d want to wear outside of it. I don’t like Urban Outfitters either. Instead I wear Juicy Couture tracksuits that don’t even have the cute little phrases like Daddy’s Girl emblazoned in purple rhinestones across the behind. Or Uniqlo. I love their draped pants. I’ll be walking around like I’m in my pajamas and you’ll be walking around like you’re Madonna or Wilford Brimley.
3. I also don’t go to Goodwill to exchange my mainstream clothes that are 5 years old for obscure clothes that are 20 years old. I used to work at an upscale consignment store that sold brands like Prada and Moschino. I was so freaking happy when I got clothes on commission that I went around telling everyone how my skirt was originally $800 but I got it for free. Recognizable labels aren’t cool. Enthusiasm isn’t cool. I lost two major cool points in one sentence.
4. I like to tell people I listen to Belle and Sebastian, but I don’t. I don’t go to concerts and I don’t listen to music that your parents were into back when they had long armpit hair and used a shampoo called Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific! I turn on the radio and listen austerely to Taylor Swift because she describes my relationships perfectly. Or I turn on YouTube and rock out to Sam Tsui covers of Jason Derulo and Gotye. I’d like to think I get points for sometimes getting my pop secondhand, but I don’t think it works that way.
5. My dates are chubby and strong instead of skinny and weak. They are expressive instead of condescendingly discreet, punctuating every statement I make with a roll of their eyes like they heard it five years ago. I see you leaning against a concrete wall in Alphabet City with one foot propped behind you, dragging on your All American Spirit with a cavalier air of ennui. I want to ask you what you see. I want to ask you what you know. But guys like you never think I can hang.
6. Also, my guys don’t play the ukulele in front of a wall outside the L Train. They live in the suburbs. They don’t write for Thought Catalog or Vice. Instead they fix airplanes, sell computer parts on eBay, or work as accountants because they legitimately enjoy the predictable nature of it. If the guys I date by default are such gender-normative, nerdy Basic Guys, then that probably means I’m a socially awkward breed of Basic Bitch.
7. I keep planning to read up on political theory so I can jibe with the commies. Instead I end up reading Candace Bushnell or erotica to de-stress from trying to express my ideas in a marketable way.
8. I used to live near a Walmart, and we hung out there. We used to have this game where we’d each get a cart, set a timer for 30 minutes and run around the store finding weird shit. I usually won because I’d find things like a Bratz doll with a face melted into the shape of the Holy Spirit while my friends just picked up those nursing bras with a pump in them. Also, my best friend works at Walmart. He pushes carts around for 35 hours a week in the parking lot. I’m not getting into Marquee anytime soon.
9. I guess I’m sort of ahead of my time, but not in a way that anybody wants to emulate. I went to dive bars filled with bleak rednecks before it was cool to go downmarket. But those bars were not in Brooklyn; they were in tiny Republican towns in western Pennsylvania with names like “Third Base Tavern: Last Stop Before Home.” You’d see 50 year old men with ponytails drinking next to a beat-down stripper and a mother and daughter grinding together on the only black guy in town. They had Carolan’s instead of Bailey’s. Awesome.
10. I read fantasy novels before it was cool. I took Ritalin before it was cool. I had Asperger’s before it was cool. And honestly it’s really not that cool at all. You just want an excuse to insult anyone who gets bored when you talk about your ideas for a solar-powered coffee maker.
11. I don’t have as much money as a lot of you do. My family is upper-middle-class, but I’m not rich enough to be a dilettante for the rest of my life like you can. I know some of you people aren’t that rich but you’re cool enough to meet movers and shakers anyway. I’m not.
12. I’m not ashamed to admit that I want your approval.
If you’re also an artist who’s missing that fundamental element of cool, then you probably feel the same way. We’re sitting here quietly, painfully worshipping cool. Even if we don’t always respect it. Sometimes people who are on the outskirts of something but can’t get in develop killer observational skills and have the perpetual internal conflict necessary to make great art. I’m really hoping to be one of them.