I currently live in San Francisco and I think its pretty clear to me now that I live in the wrong part of the county. I resisted that idea for awhile - overall, I think my views are relatively liberal although I definitely don't subscribe to any particular political party. I just believe what I believe and I brought these beliefs with me when I moved - this place didn't change me, at least as far as that goes.
The problem here is not that I don't want to belong. I do. I mean at least to some reasonable level. The problem is really that, San Francisco won't have me. People I know here all seem to do pretty much the same set of hobbies and I'm not really into any of them. I guess I never noticed what sort of hobbies people did when I lived elsewhere - but here they seem dangerously non-unique.
Let's see - there's bike-riding, yoga (by the way, you can't just "do yoga", apparently you need to go to a class - either you're an instructor or a student, but you have to be in a class. Also mind you, I don't do/study/teach yoga but I should really start. Seems like an incredibly great way to meet women), rock-climbing, hitting clubs (no surprise), owning pets (which in this city seems like a terrible idea), snowboarding, skiing, and of course - hiking.
All this sounds a bit reasonable - at least mostly. But as the prime example, that last one sorta gets me. Growing up in Ohio, hiking meant simply "walking in the woods" which is all well and fine but by no means exciting. When you're 12 looking for something to do and you are attempting to articulate the idea of heading into the forest with your friend, the last damn thing you'd say is "let's go hiking". Forget that noise. You needed purpose. You needed - adventure.
You'd get far better response with equivalent-meaning yet far more eloquent statements such as "lets go find snakes and blow them up with firecrackers" or "lets go climb trees above a trail, wait for someone to walk by and whip rocks at them". Now we're talking.
Now many people around here go on and on about hiking. And never once do they mention snakes, firecrackers, or whipping rocks. They really just talk about, um, "walking". And maybe shoes (or boots I guess) and GPSes (GPSi?), and like water bottles. What the hell? Who the hell TALKS about water bottles for real? Now mind you, these same people keep inviting me. They keep saying "come hiking! We'll get like sunburnt and drink WATER when we're thirsty out of this neato bottle".
At first thought I can't imagine a reason I'd want to buy overpriced boots and walk around in the woods trying to get bit by ticks. But I think I figured them out. Obviously, no one in their right mind could get truly excited about just "walking around in the woods". There had to be a catch. A gimmick as it were.
And I'm pretty sure I have found the deeper meaning. Given the amount of fervor, enthusiasm, and sheer excitement in their voices when they talk about it - "hiking" is really some sort of subversive code word for "mid-trail ORGIES". Yep. I didn't believe it at first neither.
And apparently, the first rule of Hiking is that you DON'T talk about Hiking. At least not "real" Hiking. You use code like "Boy, this GPS really knows where we're going" (which means like "Orgy ahead") and "Man, this water is sure cold" (which is slang for like "Orgy ahead"). Yeah. right. uhuh.
The problem with it all is that you're not allowed into the real Hiking club just willy-nilly. I have no idea what it takes to get in, but I know for a fact I haven't yet met the requirements. Everytime I go, no one talks about it. No one looks excited. Instead of Hiking (as in the wild orgy type Hiking), the whole group knows we're just going what I call "Paul-Hiking".
Paul-Hiking is like Hiking minus the orgies. The formula is simple - Paul goes Hiking - you walk in the woods as tick food. Paul doesn't go Hiking - wild, crazed orgy parties at trail-marker #7. Its a damn conspiracy.
I'm thinking that the Hiking society only likes to allow the perseverant and or silly people into their orgies. Basically, they make you walk in the woods in the hot sun getting bit by ticks and NOT being allowed to blow-up snakes over and over and over again until you cross some magic threshold and they finally they say "Ok. You're cool. We were just kidding about all that silly walking in the woods stuff. Here, have an orgy".
Funny enough I've been able to apply this "Paul-" prefix to lots of stuff. In fact, I've become wise to it - anytime people get REALLY excited over something that makes ZERO sense to me - yep - its a "Paul-" thing. In effect, if I don't show up - its going to be FREAKIN cool. If I go, its the normal silly version that no one in their right mind could get excited about except to use as a facade for when I'm there.
- why would you do this again?
Paul-yoga: Masochistic pain-infliction via bending
Regular-yoga: Some sorta orgies fer sure.
- um.. yeah. Good idea - lets start a restaurant, skimp on oven costs and call it some neato Japanese name! Riiiiight.
Paul-Sushi: Raw Fish
Regular Sushi: um.. I'm not sure, but it sure as hell isn't raw fish. (and probably does have orgies somewhere in there).
Owning a cat:
- Yes. Lets get a skiddish creature with knives on the end of its limbs and let it loose amongst fine furniture
Paul-Owning-a-Cat: A box of shit in your house
Regular Owning-a-Cat: No idea. Maybe they talk or like can make "real sushi" for you or fetch the paper or something. Not exactly sure except that non-Paul-owning cats crap in toilets just like humans and non-Paul-owning hamsters do.
I'm on to them though. On our hikes I keep looking for trail turns we "don't" take or signs etched in the sand like "Orgy. Thataway ->". So far, they've thwarted me good - but I am persistent. Soon enough, I'll be a full fledged member of the secret Hiking (and yoga) club and I won't have to put up with Paul-Hiking anymore. Now where'd I put that "GEE-PEE-ESS" *wink*.