In the town where I live I see all types. The locals that have been here for years, the kids who’ve just recently graduated from college and spawned back home to catch up on laundry, decent meals and cheap pot, and the yuppies from big cities who crave the ‘simple’ life providing it comes with no less than four bathrooms, a guest house, room for horses, an infinity pool with a view of the world and plenty of room for their toys. But the genus that I’m constantly amused by is the folk who shop at the local health food stores.
According to the website, “Stuff White People Like,” I live in an almost totally white community, one trip to the local Saturday Farmer’s Market and you’ll get my drift. I’ve found myself secretly rebelling against shopping there, don’t get me wrong, I support, locally grown/organic/vintage/vegetarian sea salt and coffee along with organic flowers grown with a view of the ocean. It’s just that it’s become such a scene to be seen at – and how the hell do these people have so much time on their hands to spend hours sniffing and tasting organically grown, free range tulips?
There are a few items that I crave from our local trendy earthy store, one of which is their grilled tofu. No matter how hard I work to duplicate it, I can’t – it’s no use. As I search the parking lot for a space between the many SUV’s and VW vans, I squeeze in next to a Prius, grab my wallet and head toward the store.
I manage to casually drift past the recent college dropout who’s saving the world by getting signatures to protect organically grown yoga cushions sewn by endangered monkeys with hemorrhoids and find myself safely through the front doors. Not much has changed since the last time I visited although the trendy female cashier has a newly dyed Mohawk and I think a few new tattoos over her already tattooed body. There’s the local young mum pushing her baby in a $600 stroller, terrified that her young babe might one day eat a morsel that is not ‘naturally organic,’ just like her long Indian skirt and naturally organic highlights and nail polish.
Finding my way to the deli bar I sigh as I realize it’s lunchtime. Shit – the smell of body odour is wafting past my nose; I hold my breath and casually put my wrist to my nose hoping to god there’s still a little lavender oil lingering there so I don’t start gagging. Finally, I catch the nattering server’s eye and point through the glass as I ask for one burned piece of tofu please. He grabs one, weighs it, slaps a sticker onto a plastic container then hands it to me.
I head for the checkout when something strange happens. Everything goes completely silent. I mean people are still talking but I don’t hear them all speaking at once. Clearly conscious of everything around me, I turn my head toward a man who I’m pretty sure belongs to the body odor. As he complains to the staff that his burrito has chicken in it and he’s a vegetarian, the server grabs it and walks off in a gaze into the kitchen. I turn my head to the right and see a woman has just dropped her entire smoothie over the floor; she’s wiping it up with a look of such profound peace over her face that I wonder if she’s actually having an orgasm while cleaning. Another woman is complaining that her drink is too strong – no shit, it looks like green mucus – she suggests it needs a little dash of cucumber. Is she serious?
Then as quickly as everything went quiet the volume returns and once again I’m reminded of stuff white people like. I’m surrounded by it – I can’t escape – I pay for my organic, burnt, marinated tofu slice – no, I mean I really pay for it, through the f———nose! It’s a piece of freaking soy curd, but, I pay, realize with guilt that I don’t have my organic grocery bag but tell the cashier that I don’t need a bag and make a bee line to my car.
Thankful to be in the fresh air away from patchouli, sandalwood and brass gongs, I jump in the car. Taking one more look at the customers going into the market I can’t help but notice that most of them are wearing tie-dyed socks, Birkenstocks or something from the latest prêt-à-porter – what a paradox of sorts. It’s then that I notice my reflection in my rear vision mirror – OMG, I have on crystal earrings and my organic, bamboo tee shirt. But it’s the peace sticker on the rear window of my car that gives me away. Yes - that’s number 100 on the white people list.
Mandy Jackson-Beverly is an Australian, schooled in Tasmania, currently living in California.