22 shades of hipsterness

No bags, please, just put it in my bicycle panniers

I approve of your willingness to go full Nancy Drew on this one.
  • I approve of your willingness to go full Nancy Drew on this one.

Hipster: People all over town are giving away their hipsterness (or lack thereof) in front of local grocery stores! Since those little plastic bags were banned in California, I’ve noticed that shoppers differ widely in how they bag their groceries. Organic health-food grocery shoppers tend to arrive with matching bags; often burlap featuring pictures of vegetables.Very hip! In contrast, dollar-store shoppers often don’t bother with any bags at all, preferring instead to juggle everything in their arms on the way to their cars. I’ve asked around. One shopper explained to me, “I have lots of bags at home,” but others have told me they forgot the bags are in their cars, or that it isn’t any of my business. Could this total disregard of “shopping-bag hipness” be considered hip? — Vivian

When you said, “giving away their hipsterness,” I had this beautiful vision of a hipster charity, organized at ground level the way the Salvation Army sends people out to ring bells at grocery stores every December. The unhip could receive surplus hipstertude from generous hipsters. Personally, I could enrich the lives of half a dozen squares with the extra coolness that I exude on any given day. Why should hipsters conglomerate as a fabulous 1 percent, hoarding all the coolness for themselves?

But, no, it is not to be. You meant “giving away” as in “tipping your hand.” The dream dies as soon as it’s born. It wouldn’t have worked anyway. Coolness is a zero-sum game in which the value of cultural cachet comes from having more than others. If we spread all the coolness out evenly, so that everybody had his fair share, that would leave the whole world looking like green-tea ice cream: desperately trying to prove it isn’t boring, but just about as basic as it gets without being actually flavorless.

I also approve of your willingness to go full Nancy Drew on this one. Just sayin’.

Like Forrest Gump’s shoes — or the slightly-less-well-known (but totally underrated) bit about hands, not eyes, being the window to the soul from the zealously casted yet underperforming late-’90s Great Expectations — you can tell a lot about a hipster from his shopping bag. Ranked in approximate order from least to most hipster, I give you, shopping bags :

(1) Never shopping because you go to Carl’s Jr. 3x per day;

(2) Buying fresh editions of those heavy duty plastic bags that they’ll sell you for a dime;

(3) Reusing those heavy duty plastic bags to save a dime;

(4) Reusing old, pre-shopping-bag-ban plastic bags to save all the dimes;

(5) Permanent shopping bags with the store’s name on them;

(6) Permanent shopping bags with some other store’s name on them;

(7) Tote bags from charitable organizations (double points for NPR);

(8) Shopping bags from foreign grocery stores and/or tote bags from outside the U.S. generally;

(9) Radio Flyers;

(10) Milk crates;

(11) Burlap sacks from third-wave coffee roaster(s);

(12) Burlap sacks from actual livestock feed;

(13) No bags, just put it in my backpack;

(14) No bags, please, just put it in my bicycle panniers;

(15) No bags, please, just put it in my pockets;

(16) No bags, please, I’ll just carry it;

(17) No bags, please, my dog will just carry it;

(18) No bags, please, my dog will just carry it, and also he’s a service dog so you don’t get to pet him;

(19) Amazon Fresh;

(20) Community supported agriculture delivery from a local organic farm;

(21) Grow your own on urban farm;

(22) Forage all groceries from city streets.

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