Monday, April 18, 2005

Dredlocks, Patchouli, and the American Dream

Dreadlocks, Patchouli, and the American Dream

While waiting in line the other day to pay for my overpriced gas and my overpriced drinking water, I managed to stumble upon a blatantly obvious stereotype. In front of me there stood an individual with a head full of dreadlocks carrying with her a scent reminiscent of musty basement, marijuana, and body odor. I took a step back and while breathing through my mouth to avoid the offending odor I thought, “Why do people choose to look, and more importantly smell like that?” And then I began to think of where you generally see those types of people which brought back memories of idealistic college students lurking around in dark and seedy tie dye stores that sell bongs, black lights, and the like. And then I said to myself, “Well, they’re just trying to be different.” But then I realized that although they may want to be different, they are all surprisingly the same.
I am sure you know the type of person I am describing. Long hair, matted into dreads and pulled back with a rubber band, no makeup, baggy clothes, more than likely a long Indian print skirt with some sort of tank top that has seen better days. If not the skirt, then a pair of baggy pants and a dark zip-up sweatshirt with frayed sleeves, and the t-shirt underneath that is completely optional. A couple piercings here and there, a pair of Birkenstocks that are worn every single day (and have been for the past 5 years) and voila! Instant hippie. To add further validation to my previous statement about how they are all alike I was able to catch her getting into a late 70’s VW Vanagon adorned with multiple bumper stickers one of which read, “We are not free if others are oppressed.” Who drives a 1970’s Vanagon that is not a raging hippie!? Besides of course my friend Amanda who had to drive one to high school in the early 90’s and to this day is still completely mortified of the experience. Anyway, I thought a little more about it and decided that this is just a rather obvious example of a group of people who want to be different, but are all the same.

And then there are those who want to look like everyone just to fit in, like every conservative business executive who has ever lived, or anyone who feels the need to belong to some sort of prestigious organization. The thought of being different is enough to ensue thoughts of being frowned upon, fired, or even worse, black balled from the very group they are trying to assimilate themselves to. Ironically, this is the type of behavior that the previous group is so adamantly trying to avoid. These types of people include any individual who works for a company with more than one last name in its title, has an office in some sort of “glass” office building and drives a large flashy sedan or some sort of SUV (the bigger the better), and also holds (or aspires to hold) a short title like V.P. or President, because I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but the shorter the title the higher the pay scale. For example: CEO = “major paycheck” Administrative Assistant to the Administrator of the CEO = “crappy paycheck.” I digress. Anyway, up until about six months to a year ago I thought of major politicians and, well, lets just say “Ex-governors” to also fit into this category. That is until I saw a picture of our beloved ex governor Jesse Ventura looking like he should crawl into his own Vanagon and drive to some remote location to smoke weed and play the guitar all while preaching world peace in some sort of odd beatnik manner. Has anyone seen him lately? Who puts braids in their beard…really!? So thanks to Jesse the fine line between hippie and politician has now been made a little more fuzzy in my eyes.
So I guess the point that I am trying to get across (if there actually is a point) in this rather long, drawn out blog, is that because we’re in America we can dress the way we want, have our own beliefs and reach our own goals. Whether it is to support world peace, belong to the most prestigious country club, or to just stand up for what we believe in, everyone is allowed to be his or her own individual. The best part about it all is that the more I think about it, with everything that is going on in the world and all the oppression that people face, I think that’s pretty “far out.”

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