Thursday, April 8, 2010

Don't Let the Cool Farm Kids Get You Down

When you spend a lot of time talking vegetables in the Hudson Valley, you're bound to meet a bunch of 20-somethings who are just too cool for you. At least, that's how I've felt for years. I've been known to find kids decked out in anarchist-y, rural fashionista-type clothing absolutely terrifying. I have a name for the fashion style that is the domain of hip, carhart-and-suspender-wearing farmers I so often find myself sharing venison chili with - liederhosen chic (these types can also be found all over Brooklyn, on rafts on the Mississippi, and pretty much anywhere else where activists can find suspenders, carharts, muck boots, and clothes you might otherwise see a cabaret-announcer wearing). For years I was downright terrified of all the cool on the local farm scene.

Let's get a few things straight. I've experimented with patches and holes in my clothing (though never suspenders). However, I am thoroughly uncreative and mainstream by Hudson Valley farm kids fashion and music standards. I absolutely dread the idea of clothes mended with embroidery floss or dental floss, and always feel vaguely guilty about my shoes being dirty and scuffed. I do not listen to punk. I rarely get around to actually mending my clothing, but you won't catch me wearing clothes with holes unless it's my favorite sweater and I just haven't gotten around to that little hole in the armpit. And you will never, ever catch me in air pilot goggles.

My journey of getting over not being the cool-kid food activist-type was a long and winding one. It took me a year of trying on being anarchist-cool (right down to tight black jeans and back patches), followed by realizing I wasn't at all interested in that kind of fashion statement, followed by two solid years of shivering in a corner terrified of anyone who looked at all cooler than me, then another year of just standing around awkwardly. Finally, someone had the mercy to clue me into the fact that most folks are socially awkward, not cold. Just like me! Even with this clarity it took me another whole year of repeating that line to myself like a mantra (and coming to understand that I might be coming off as cold too) to finally, finally let go of my terror of folks who seemed so much cooler than me and just talk. Say hello, hold up conversations, and just relax. Now, I'm proud to say that I can talk to even the coolest farming kids without feeling absolutely wretched.

Sometimes I do run into a genuinely cold person who actually thinks they're too cool to be caught dead talking to someone who is so unashamedly bourgeois as to wear regular clothes (unlike them, who have the decency to try and hide the money they come from). These people were born rich and have a guilt complex. They should be pitied or ignored. if neither will do and you find yourself being looked down upon by one, slip in that you can't afford to have a whole spare wardrobe aside from your work clothes. this will point out that you work for a living and that they live off of a trust fund. Given how cool poverty is with this bizarre subset of farm kids, they should instantly shut up and sulk away or else try to befriend you.

Everyone else, surprisingly enough, will understand that you, like they, grew up nowhere near a farm and won't blame you for not knowing that all the cool city-cum-farmer kids are really fucking radical and wear it on their sleeves. At worst, they might assume you've never been to Brooklyn, don't know how to contra dance, or don't know what consensus means. No fear! Just explain to them that tight jeans make you feel bloated and that you weren't allowed to buy Human-i-tees t-shirts in high school and they'll understand. Bonus points for being from Vermont, having lived communally before, or having a badass prison story.

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