Silly, silly people

Most Portlanders would agree that our city is odder than most. We have strange habits and weird morals that, to the rest of the country, probably make us seem a bit off.

Photo by Miles Sanguinetti
Photo by Miles Sanguinetti

Most Portlanders would agree that our city is odder than most. We have strange habits and weird morals that, to the rest of the country, probably make us seem a bit off.

Perhaps our eccentricities stem from how we slowly drown nine months out of the year. Whether it’s a sprinkling, a drizzle, a downpour or a torrential rain, our skies are constantly painted in shades of gray.

Yet for a city that’s perpetually moist we tend to have very impractical routines for dealing with all that moisture. Outsiders are frequently the target of quiet snickers or mild distain as they walk around with their fancy little portable shelters (also known as umbrellas).

Instead, we Portlanders use hoodies or a technique we like to call the hunching-over-and-walking-really-fast maneuver in order to hinder the rain a bit.

We’re a city of perfectly content sodden idiots who find it absolutely normal to wear jeans that have somehow soaked up entire puddles. More common than not we see blue legs running around campus that suddenly get darker from the knee down from being completely drenched. Then, of course, after becoming thoroughly wet, it’s normal to simply go drip incessantly in a classroom or office for a few hours.

On top of how unpractical our habits are toward our friendly downpours, we develop unruly hair that’s simultaneously flattened and somehow incredibly misshapen by the hoods of our sweaters that are constantly mashing it around. Perhaps this is why “bed hair” and other forms of tousled tresses are so popular here.

Even our footwear is a disaster. Sure, many adults have figured out that wearing boots or good sneakers works pretty well, but there are still plenty of us frolicking around in flats and sandals, stepping straight into gutters filled with miniature ponds and simply shaking it off as we go along.

If nothing else, our outlook on rain should be enough to tell curious onlookers a whole lot about Portland, but we certainly have plenty of other customs that probably raise eyebrows and cause head-scratching.

This is a city where, if you aren’t at least trying to eat fresh, local and organic foods from the nearest farmers market, the neighborhood New Seasons or that cute little co-op down the road, you’re liable to get a good shaming.

Then, right after a scold and a long lecture about saving the planet and your body one-tomato-at-a-time, you’ll probably be encouraged to forget the whole conversation by consuming copious amounts of delicious
local beer.

Of course, it makes no difference that any credibility a person may have had when discussing nutrition gets tossed right out the window after her third pint of IPA. It’s Portland, damn it, and we’ll eat healthy and drink horribly if we want!

Our morals in general seem to bounce all over the place and leave nonresidents bewildered. Portlanders tend to have no qualms whatsoever about nude dance clubs popping up all over the city, and many of us will drop in and out of a strip club like it’s an arcade.

We’ll go in without blinking an eye—almost literally, we don’t want to miss anything good—but we will strut out of a titty bar and indignantly chastise any outsider who dares to put an empty Coke can in the garbage.

Imagine such a scene, where a wholesome family man tries to be decent and not litter. Suddenly, as he passes by an unruly section of town, a gaggle of college students storm out of a torrid strip club and begin to berate him for his audacity in not throwing his plastic in the appropriate receptacle; the receptacle being, of course, that damn fine recycling bin just around
the corner.

These are Portlandian ethics, wherein treating the environment right comes before any sense of decorum or sexual modesty. We’re a people who scoff at strangers with their fancy umbrellas and poor eating habits. We’re a people of passionate opinions and wet pants, and we’re pretty proud of ourselves for being that way.