The Essence of Boulder: Smell Offended

This post may be long overdue, but I think that if you’re going to vomit out a 15 minute’s reading time worth of negative rants about a certain place, it’s prudent to have 8 months of living in that particular place under your belt and some distance for perspective before you do so.  I’m speaking of the ironic hell that is Boulder, Colorado or as some publications call it, “The Happiest City in the USA”.  It’s been 28 days since I’ve last stepped foot in the Republic of Boulder.  Since then I’ve traveled to Guatemala, Chicago and am currently grazing in what I’m referring to as a refugee camp for anybody who doesn’t agree that organic foods are the greatest thing to happen to mankind, also known as Whitesburg, KY.  So with all of this amazing and eye-opening perspective, I now deem it time to unleash           some less than flattering comments about the only place I’d never visit twice, of my own free will.

Before I begin, one thing that drives me insane is being the cause of an unnecessary confrontation and nothing revs that engine faster than criticizing someone’s beloved hometown or current place of settlement.  Not only that, but doing so on the Internet…on your personal blog….your not well-respected nor widely read, amateur-hour personal blog that someone from Boulder just happened to find in a Bing search (not Google, because that’s too mainstream for these trailblazing hipsters) for “Reasons why Boulder is the greatest place on Earth”.  I generally hate prodding people like that, but my distaste for Boulder is such that I’m beyond caring about a little criticism or alienating people.

First Impressions

My time in Boulder started off well enough.  The bustling Pearl Street with its numerous shops and outdoor cafes appealed to me and reminded me of Saratoga, NY or even Mendoza in Argentina.  I was looking forward to making the drive down to this newest of cities I’ve encountered and taking in the scenery of the magnificent Flat Irons while strolling about the place and rejoining the rat race.  I saw bike lanes and lots and lots of people actually riding their bikes for purposes other than competitive cycling, and immediately reminisced back to my days in Amsterdam when my bicycle was the only piece of transportation machinery that I had to maintain.  I was, I’ll have you know, very much enthusiastic about this new chapter in my life and even envisioned feeling inspired to write some blog posts about my time spent here.

It was probably after the 3rd or 4th visit that I changed my mind and stopped dead in my tracks with writing about Boulder and even Colorado in general.  I noticed that the vibe of the people who inhabited this new city wasn’t quite working for me.  They were so happy with their progressive lifestyle, but they seemed like they were just a bit too wound up for my liking.  They were too obsessed with their microbrew beers and too attached to the idea of sustainable living and too dependent on organic food.  I felt as if objecting in any way to the greatness of all of these symbols of Boulder pride, would insert me into quite an unwelcome and lengthy debate.  I found out the hard way that even doing something as innocent as ordering food at a food truck could square you off against a self-important cycling enthusiast.  This particular transaction occurred when I tried to be efficient and told the server that I would have the same thing as the man in front of me just ordered.  He then asked if I would like white rice or brown rice, upon which I replied, “white rice please”.  The cycling enthusiast then turned to me and replied in a smug tone, “So it’s not the same is it?”  Whoa.  Up until this point in my naïve life, I was unaware that individuality could be taken so seriously.

Since then, my encounters with Boulder people could have been taken out of a sitcom writers’ brainstorming session.  There were the angry college hipsters who were perpetually angry with their parents, people who became upset about their dogs eating thrown away ballpark food instead of organic bananas, and the older crowd who were so tickled at the idea of taking public transportation.  The last memorable encounter was with the overzealous cyclist who was riding on the sidewalk instead of the properly marked bike lane.  I had been walking in what I thought was a very conservative straight line on the far right side of the liberally spaced sidewalk.  In doing what I thought was minding my own business and thinking about the tasks I needed to complete for the day, my thoughts were interrupted by a loud voice informing me that he was riding a bicycle and passing me on my left.  I thought that was an unnecessary vibration of vocal chords, but didn’t become thoroughly annoyed until he passed, looked over and said in a very indignant or perhaps sarcastic tone, “Thank you!!”

Gloves = Off

That was the final straw for me.  Boulder was now on my banned traveling list and I was out for blood.  I began doing weird things just to mess with the people of Boulder like asking if toilet paper was gluten-free, proactively putting the toilet seat up after I finished using the unisex bathroom, eating hot dogs, and ultimately writing this tell-all about how rigid and uptight 87% of these people can be.

I’m going to make a bold statement and say that thus far in my travels and life experiences, they are in fact the most uptight and uniform people with whom I’ve ever interacted.   I’ve been with staunchly religious Catholic families in Ecuador that I would chance discussing my views on divorce and abortion before I’d dare tell a Boulderite that, in my humble opinion, the cost-benefit analysis of organic food is not always positive or that yoga is lame.  The satirical book, “Stuff White People Like”, might as well be called, “Stuff Boulderites Like”, because there is not one topic in there (which I recently read during my morning poops this last week) that does not apply to people from Boulder, though I would’ve added “Being Complicated” and “Being Offended” to the list.

The Silver Lining

As much as I can’t stand the city, I do have to end on a positive note if only for the exceptional people that I’ve met who’ve provided me with some relief from the constant pc-ness of Boulder.  The silver lining of Boulder is Latinos, assuming you can find them.  Even though I constantly passed by carnicerias, taquerias and salones de belleza, I couldn’t for the most part, actually spot a Latino person in the Boulder to Fort Collins trailway, but when I did, which was not surprisingly at my salsa classes, it was a refreshing escape from the oppressive expectations of Boulder people.  My instructors especially, one of which I believe was from New Jersey, were the most talkative and easygoing people I encountered.  It even showed in my dancing.  There was a stark contrast in my dancing ability when paired with them or the other Latino guy in my class and it had nothing to do with their natural ability.  It was basically because they were the only ones who weren’t criticizing me.  Yes, a shorter gentleman who was frustrated with reaching up so high to turn me actually checked to make sure I wasn’t wearing heels.

In short, Boulder is not my cup of gluten-free, organic, free-trade tea.


7 thoughts on “The Essence of Boulder: Smell Offended

  1. I was wondering what had become of you. So glad you have surfaced. I understand the feelings and I think it comes from people being lost in their day to day life and not being able to look outside their comfort zone.

    Looking forward to your road trip through Europe/Asia.

  2. “I began doing weird things just to mess with the people of Boulder like asking if toilet paper was gluten-free, proactively putting the toilet seat up after I finished using the unisex bathroom.” —> Love! I hope you would add a snarky comment after leaving the unisex bathroom to make people’s heads turn even more….Why don’t we do this on a regular basis just to see people’s responses? Sounds like a fun way to pass the time…que dices?

    1. I have heard they acquire their culture from all other places, which isn’t bad in and of itself, but then they act like they invented the micro brewing process or something.

  3. Thanks for this Lisa! I will take Boulder off the list of ‘places to visit’. I had heard that most smoke weed 24/7 and are really, really relaxed ha! Not that I smoke weed, but had been told to check it out because of the complementary therapies I practice, A friend suggested it as a community that would accept & support me as a professional.

    1. It’s true. I think your profession would be welcome out there. The problem with Boulder in my opinion is a bit ironic. It’s like they’re so “open” and “progressive” but only about the things that interest them and everyone else is some uncivilized heathen.

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