Back in my home town, there’s this phenomenon called “The Kitsap Shrug Off.” You see that nice kid from your classical lit class (who you’re pretty sure smokes pot during his daily mid-class bathroom breaks) at the Fro-Yo shop (he likes creamy snacks too, I guess I shouldn’t judge) and instead of saying hi, nodding, or raising your goblet of iced curdle in acknowledgement, you shrug him off. You both pretend the other isn’t there and then you both hop on your merry way. “Have a nice day, somewhere else.”
Don’t get me wrong, people from the Greater Seattle area are nice people — we hold doors open, we smile at babies, we’re down right obsequious drivers, and we give hugs because our warmth kind of actually does depend on it — but if you’re just a vague inclination or we really just don’t care for you, let’s be honest, don’t expect a nod. Save that kind of garbage for the kiddie parade. Which…is actually quite lovely in my town; hit up Whaling Days in July, folks. It’s the one time of year where I can scream, “GO DUCKIES, GO!” with reckless abandon and still maintain my dignity. But I digress.
While I’m sure the shrug off is not unique to just my corner of the PNW, over the years I’ve perfected the craft (it’s actually not that hard to be a rude jerk) in the comfort of my own home.
But traveling is sometimes a bit lonely. The Kitsap Shrug Off (or the Seattle Freeze) has not followed me out into the world. In fact, it’s pretty much the exact opposite. I’ve found myself desiring to shake off that Pacific Northwest lone wolf in me.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Traveling is a journey, a go find yourself, the brave and the bold, blah, blah, blah. Sure. But. Sometimes you just want someone to laugh at your jokes, engage in banter, talk WAY too loud, and generally be as irksome as possible to other jealous travelers and unimpressed locals everywhere. Sometimes the views are prettier when you have someone to share it with.
Sometimes, being a little…pedestrian is nice.
Like that one time I joined a Japanese Tour group at the Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet, Istanbul.
Yeah, we had a blast frolicing with our Japanese-speaking Turkish tour guide. Hey guys, remember when he made that one joke about the um, “Boku…wa … Sushi…to hurosiki … Arimasu…Honto?” … AM I RIGHT?
Remember when we all took pictures of the Blue Mosque together? Remember when the kamura…and the…desu? Arigato?
Yeah. Oh my gosh, and this one time, my new sleek-haired, beautiful new friends did this:
It was priceless.
And it made me want to be all cute and get pics from strange angles like only us Asians can stereotypically do. Yeah. We had a great time. Them, all cool, and Japanese, and high-tech, and beautiful. Me all bushy-haired, and loud, and well, not Japanese.
No, as far as the Kitsap Shrug Off goes, in traveling, I’m the opposite.
And these guys weren’t intimidating at all. They totally let me sit with them.
Or. Well. I could have just kinda stood in the back.
In case this post is starting to sound pathetic, may I just say…Oh gosh. There is absolutely no redeeming, cute thing that I could say right now. I followed a Japanese tour group around. I took photos of strangers. I named them cute, Asian-sounding beatnik names (the girl with the awesome braids was “Plum Blossom”). I thought it would be funny? No, yep, I’m gonna stick with that one. Funny. Not pathetic.
I need a cannoli.