People in Boulder are, well, to put it nicely, eclectic. No, I’m just going to say it. They are weird, really weird. As much as I enjoy the extreme friendliness of the overwhelming majority of people I interact with in town, there’s a reason I live in isolation in the mountains. But even so, I can’t escape bizarre interactions. Sometimes I invite them, like the time my partner and I went to an organized date night event run by two early-twenty-something “intimacy coaches” that turned out to be more a group therapy session with us and 28 complete strangers. But other times, they just happen. I present to you the following evidence.
The Good: A few Fridays ago, I was headed downtown to meet a friend for happy hour. I entered the trendy part of town around 4:45 and started to look for parking. The good thing about living in a small town like Boulder is there is always ample parking. The bad thing about that is people have no idea how to really parallel park because they generally have two whole car lengths to do it. I was about to encounter one such spatially challenged individual.
On the block of the restaurant I was going to, a Mercedes SUV was stopped with its blinker on. There were several parallel parking spaces available, including one directly behind the SUV. Figuring that the driver was waiting for the long stream of traffic to go by so she could back into the spot, I also went around her. As I did, another driver pulled out of a space right in front of me. So, I put my blinker on and proceeded to back in. As I did, the woman driving the SUV honked at me. Naturally I ignored her because among the many important life lessons Seinfeld taught us was this: you don’t go headfirst into a parallel parking spot. Except in Boulder, apparently, where people leave three feet in front of and behind their vehicles just to make sure they have enough room to get out.
I parked and she pulled up next to me, passenger window down. I instantly switched into George Costanza mode and rolled down my window. But instead of unjustifiably cursing me out, in a meek voice she said, “Umm…excuse me, I had my blinker on for that spot.”
Adrenaline still running, I tersely said “No you didn’t. You were backing into the spot behind you.”
“Ummm, I don’t think there is another spot.”
Of course she would think that in her behemoth vehicle. “Yes, there are two other spots actually.”
“No, I really don’t think so.”
“Yes, there are.”
“Well, it’s OK. I’m not mad. You can park there.”
Remember that I was already in the spot. “There are two other spots.”
“No, but really it’s OK. I’m not mad. It’s fine, really.”
She drove away and turned right onto a side street. Well, she must have found a spot immediately because as I was paying the meter, she came walking around the corner and still felt the need to clear any toxic energy from her aura by reiterating several more times that she wasn’t mad at me and everything was OK. Okaaaaaaaaay. Good to know.
The Bad: I was invited to a Thanksgiving potluck dinner this year along with ten other holiday orphans, none of whom I knew other than the host and his daughter. As is the norm whenever any group in Boulder is assembled, some were vegans and vegetarians, and as is the norm whenever vegans and vegetarians are present, at least one of them has to be a self-righteous pain-in-the-ass about it. We found out which one when we notified the group that we would be bringing our much-lauded bacon-grease roasted Brussels sprouts. Miss Special Snowflake responded with, “I can’t eat that.” Period. Full stop. No further commentary. Because at a Thanksgiving dinner in which turkey is the main dish, a logical expectation is that everyone bring a vegetarian-friendly side.
One minute after we arrived, I surmised that the snowflake was the one wearing the overpriced yoga pants and “lifestyle” top, even though it was Thanksgiving Day and not a single yoga studio or gym was open that she might have just arrived from. I should have bet my entire life savings on that guess because I would be a lot richer now.
Three minutes after we arrived, my willingness to cut her a little slack and accept the possibility that she might not be so bad dissolved when I removed my coat and added it to what seemed to be a pile of guest coats on the sofa. As I did so, she came leaping across the room (I guess she did have a need to wear fitness clothes to Thanksgiving dinner) and insisted that I not put my coat on hers because she was “allergic” to my coat. Let me remind you that I had never met this person before, so she wasn’t aware that I have two cats and a dog, and unless she has xray eyes and incredible super power vision, there’s no way she had read the label on my coat. She’s just that bad kind of Boulderite that makes this town the butt of a lot of #whitepeopleproblems jokes.
The Ugly: About three months after I moved to the mountains, a husky pup came wandering on to the porch. She was friendly and let me approach her to check the tag that was attached to her collar. I called the number I found there but got a voicemail box that was identified as belonging to someone other than the owner’s (oh excuse me, I mean “guardian’s”) name on the tag. Thinking the number might have changed, I went onto both our NextDoor site and Yahoo group to post that this dog was at my house and let the owner know how to reach me.
Then I brought the pup into the downstairs of my house. This was a risky maneuver. My dog hates other dogs and he knew what was happening even though I had him shut in another room. He was whining and scratching at the door, desperate to attack the invader. But I had to bring the stray in because I knew she must have traveled at least several miles to reach our house. She didn’t belong to anyone on my street and I live really far from anyone else, so she was certainly hungry and thirsty. I gave her some food and water, and about ten minutes later I got a call from the owner/guardian/pet mommy/whatever.
I explained the situation and said that I had given the pup some food and then, it began. She actually said to me, “I hope you didn’t give her commercial food. She is only allowed to eat special, natural food.” At which point I stopped talking, stunned at her rudeness.
But wait, we haven’t gotten to the really ugly part yet. After moment of silence, I asked what her plan was for coming to get her dog. Her plan was nothing. She wasn’t going to come get the dog. She wanted me to just let the dog go. Just let the dog go out onto the mountainside where there is no water but plenty of mountain lions and bobcats and bears and other predators. Was she serious? She was.
As the scratching and woofing and growling of my own dog (who has thrived on mid-grade commercial food, thank you very much) intensified, I realized if she wasn’t going to come for the pup, I had no choice. I opened the door and out the husky went. It sniffed around the house for another few minutes and then took off.
I related the story to my partner when he got home and with some quick internet research, this is what he found out about her. And this. And this. Don’t be fooled into villifying the people who took the dogs. There is a reason they were taken from her. Note the part about the chicken and keep reading.
Over the next few weeks, complaints started coming in from our neighborhood and the next one over about a pack of husky/wolf hybrids that were running wild and terrorizing people and dogs and horses and more chickens. Yep, you guessed it. They belonged to her. Huskies are dangerous when allowed to roam free in packs and especially when they are part wolf. Yet she made it her personal mission to introduce wolves back into the wild of Colorado all by herself with no wildlife studies, neighborhood analysis, training, environmental impact work. And she was doing it in a residential neighborhood. Great idea. Fortunately, the endless calls to the Boulder county police from multiple mountain residents put an end to the whole ugly matter and neither dogs nor owner have been heard from in over a year now.
These characters are all part and parcel of living a place that calls itself “The People’s Republic of Boulder.” They go hand-in-hand with the low crime, high educational attainment, strong tech scene, great weather, hipster restaurants, buskers welcome attitudes, 90.6 percent Caucasian population, much higher than national median income, left as left can be political scene, “I’m spiritual but not religious” religious tendency, and emphasis on creating and preserving beautiful outdoor space microcosm. I take the parts I enjoy and live them my own weird way. Like entering a gas guzzler in the Lights of December Parade to represent the crazy mountain people. Yes, that happened, complete with a person in a bear costume being chased by a lady with a chain saw, and two dogs dressed up as Thing 1 and Thing 2. Merry Christmas!