The following is an excerpt from my debut novel, 99 Erics: a Kat Cataclysm faux novel — a silly, surreal, sex-positive tale about a bisexual female absurdist short fiction writer who dates ninety-nine different people named Eric for literature’s sake. What follows is the second half of Chapter 3: “Lady Parts,” wherein Kat goes out on a “date” with a gay male friend of hers who just so happens to be named Eric . . .

After seating ourselves at the bar, Eric glanced around the fairly crowded room and remarked: I thought this was a queer bar?

Me: It is.

Eric: Then what are all these straight people doing here?

Me: Well, a lot of the techies and newbies who’ve moved into this neighborhood in recent years didn’t know that it was a queer bar. Or didn’t care. So now they hang out here too.

Eric: Why doesn’t someone just kick them out?

Me: On what basis? Because they look straight? I mean, as a woman and man sharing a drink together, we probably strike some people as a straight couple. What’s to stop them from kicking us out?

Eric: Well, you look straight-ish enough, but I seriously doubt that anyone would ever read me as straight.

Me: Oh yes, of course, because you are so much more queer than me! [I said extremely sarcastically, even though, as a writer, I know that it’s considered poor form to use adverbs to describe dialogue.] Anyway, nowadays it’s against the law to kick someone out of your establishment because of their sexual orientation. And heterosexuality just so happens to be a sexual orientation.

Eric: Great, so they are taking over our bars and our laws.

Me: Funny thing is, this was never a problem ten or fifteen years ago, because most straight folks wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near a queer bar. But nowadays, they are no longer afraid of us, I fear. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they thought that hanging out at a queer bar gives them some hipster cred.

Eric: Fucking hipsters . . . [he muttered, as he took a sip of his whiskey sour.]

Me: You know, for a long time, I thought that I hated hipsters too. But then one day, I was at a bar, writing in my journal and nursing my IPA, when these two guys sat down next to me. And they struck me as hipsters due to their vintage clothing and beards of notable length. And I couldn’t help but overhear what they were saying — not because they were especially loud, but because as a writer, most of my best material comes from listening in on random people’s conversations. And I heard one of them say to the other, “God, this place is crawling with hipsters.” And I began to wonder who they were talking about. Was it the guy at the bar with the thick-framed glasses who was staring into his mobile device? Or the woman with all the piercings and dyed-purple punk haircut? Or the table of twenty-somethings who brought board games with them to play at the bar? Or maybe — just maybe — I was one of the hipsters they were talking about! I mean, I don’t think that I look particularly hipster-ish. But perhaps these guys assume that people who write in their journals in dark bars whilst drinking pints of good beer are hipsters? Or maybe it’s my liberal use of the word “whilst” that qualifies me as a hipster in their eyes?

And the more that I considered it, the more that I became convinced that “hipster” is merely a contemporary manifestation of what philosophers call the constitutive Other. Whenever we come across people who seem superficially different from us with regards to fashion sense, or taste in food or art, we reflexively label them “hipsters” as part of an ongoing social identity formation process, one that allows us to establish our own identities as unique and authentic individuals in contrast to this inauthentic hipster Other.

Eric: Could be . . . [he said as he stroked his handlebar mustache.] Or maybe it’s just that you are a hipster who doesn’t understand what the word hipster means?

Me: Actually, that would be perfect, because now everyone in the bar will likely view us as not just a straight couple, but a straight hipster couple!

I raised my beer for a toast, but Eric didn’t reciprocate. Instead, he countered with a disgruntled smirk.

Just like a hipster, I thought.

You can learn more about 99 Erics via that link. And you can read excerpts from three other chapters — Posers, Ethical Slut vs. Confused Slut, and Banana Slug of a Different Color — right here on Medium!

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