So I’m in line at Powell’s Books waiting to order some tea a minute ago and I hear this hipster chick in front of me say to the cashier, “I’ll have an urban cheese bagel with cream cheese on it.”
And I am immediately irritated that such a thing even exists – an urban cheese bagel? It is instantly the most obnoxious thing I’ve heard all morning, or maybe even EVER. And I think to myself for the zillionth time that Portland has really taken its whole weirdness mandate a bit far, to the point of being almost unintelligible at times. And it’s inefficient, besides! I mean, what is even in an urban cheese bagel? Basil grown on a fire escape? Ground-up cigarette butts? Stuff they found in the Dumpster out back? There is absolutely no way to know from its name, which means you have to ask, which equals using extra oxygen and syllables and seconds that could really be put to much better use.
And in this moment, I make myself a promise. I say: “I don’t care how delicious an urban cheese bagel is. I will never order it, on sheer principle. Because that’s the kind of frumpy, old-guard Portlander I am. Unflappably principled. And furthermore, anyone who consents to such reckless euphemizing in the presence of others must certainly be incapable of original thought, which is the WHOLE FREAKING problem around here these days.”
Then I decide that I hate her outfit, and her face, too, and is it just me or did the guy behind the counter give me a dirty look?
And then I look up at the chalk board menu and I realize three things. One: It’s actually an “herb and cheese bagel.” I had misheard the girl. Two: I am a total dick. Three: It’s my turn to order, and maybe I should consider switching back to coffee.