I’m sitting in my car in the garage of a certain famous Seattle recreational equipment store, parked between a silver Subaru and a maroon one, trying to talk myself out of a panic attack.
“They won’t know you’re an imposter just by looking at you.”
“No one is going to make you try on those weird, monsterous rubber shoes with the separate toes.”
“It’s just a store for chrissake. Go in and buy the fucking clogs already.”
As I’ve mentioned, I'm not a sporty person. I do not play games that require catching, throwing, hitting, running, or kicking, nor do I engage in activities that require paddles, helmets, ice picks, carabineers, or freeze-dried food. I’ll go camping with you, but I’ll insist you carry both the tent and the bottle of wine as I complain that my backpack full of marshmallows is chafing. It’s a miracle my husband ever consented to marrying me.
I’ve lived in Seattle for over a decade and have never set foot in the monolith of cord and webbing and Nalgene. But I’ve become a reluctant convert to clogs in my old age, and they have the pair I want inside those doors with the handles made of fiberglass-encased pick-axes.
Am I crazy for panicking that people working or shopping at an outdoor gear store will look at me funny or laugh at my non-nylon purse or non-zip-off pants or make me feel inadequate by their mere comfortable-in-their-own-athletic-abilities existence? Maybe. But you know what’s more crazy? Feeling judged not just by the people who buy and sell crampons but by the crampons themselves. Dangling all self-importantly, menacingly daring you to try them on, to be woman enough to SCALE A WALL OF ICE, motherfucker.
No. I’d prefer to keep company with gear that allows me to feel superior to the average American. To stand in the aisles of K-Mart saying No thank you to the shelves of toxin-leaching plastic food containers or landfill-bound party favors packaged by tiny Chinese children.
I’ve always been more comfortable being the woman at Safeway with a cart full of organic produce from the hard-to-find “natural” food section than the woman at the local food co-op with a cart full of pre-packaged (but organic!) macaroni and cheese. Because I’m an asshole. It’s one of the many annoying things about me—I’m constantly judging and expecting everyone else to do the same. It’s like my psyche never recovered from junior high or something—which in a way I suppose it hasn’t.
A friend sent a text assuring me it wouldn’t be that bad.
Unfortunately she was wrong. It was that bad. It was worse. I got lost, I nearly cried, I couldn’t find a salesperson to help me, and I got sweat stains under my armpits because my lame-o shirt Does. Not. Wick.
True, nobody made me try on toe-separating shoes, but when that's the highlight of a shopping trip, is that really a win?
I ducked into my favorite coffee shop afterward and learned that they now carry hemp milk, and I wondered if maybe the Republicans are right? Have Seattleites gone too far?