Portland Handbook 2018
Recently a coworker who’s new to the area asked me to list all the Portland things he totally has to do. I responded with a long blank stare. I don’t know, dude! I don’t do stuff! I spend most of my time within two miles of my house with people I’ve known forever! It’s not that I’ve always been boring, I’ve just done all the stuff I needed to do to unlock that “Portland lifestyle”—and much of it doesn’t need doing on the regular. So to my coworker, and whoever else needs some advice: Do the following things once... but for god’s sake don’t make a habit of ’em.
(1) Fancy donuts. You know the ones. Some have cereal, some have bacon, and some are very naughty. And they’re absolutely fine! But they’re just fucking donuts! I’m lucky to have both a Vietnamese bakery and a Mexican tienda near my house, and that’s where I get my carb fix. So by all means visit Voodoo, Blue Star, and all the other gourmet donut spots once. But after that? Get on with your life (unless your friends are visiting from out of town).
(2) Timbers matches. Or games? I have no idea which is less pretentious to say because I cannot figure soccer out. I spent a solid summer of my mid-20s convinced that I could get into it, but sorry... I just can’t. Did you know that an exciting soccer game (match?) can finish with zero points scored? Why is most of the world so obsessed with it?! Granted, it’s a very exciting, energizing experience to attend a match (game?) at Providence Park, and I’m glad to have gone. But I’m equally glad to never go back.
(3) Wait in line for brunch. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself to a $13 bloody mary at some point in your life—but you don’t have to do it all the time. A big part of living in Portland is sharing space with “brunch people,” who insist that some combination of eggs and carbs is the most life-changing thing EVARRRR—but they are lying to you. They don’t want to admit that waiting 80 minutes for what is hands-down the easiest meal to prepare at home was worth it. It’s not. Go once, then say no to the brunch people.
(4) Strip clubs. Portland has a lot of them. They’re not very different from one another, no matter what your boyfriend’s kinda-creepy friend says as he suggests visiting one for the hundredth time. Be real: If you’ve seen one naked lady, you’ve seen ’em all. There are plenty of places to get horny and drink overpriced beers. (Like on the curb outside of Plaid Pantry.)
(5) Drugs. Are drugs still around? If they are, feel free to try them, and then move along. Drugs are fun, but people who remain in their experimental drug phase for too long are not fun. In fact, they are the opposite of fun.
(6) Mount Hood. People who aren’t from around here ask locals, “You ever make it up to Hood?” What, like the top? No man, I haven’t. Look: Mount Hood is big. It is... a mountain. You can’t just walk up there. Besides, Mount Hood is a huge piece of our state pie. Even Gresham could be considered “on Mount Hood.” So have I been to Gresham? Yes. Yes, I have. Once.
(7) Hood River. I know, it’s adorable. It’s a lovely place to spend a day. I was born and raised there. People forget that it’s a place where people live and go to school and have to park their cars for their jobs. It gets busy enough with jerks from Colorado. So go once, come back, and leave them alone forever.
(8) Make friends. Some people are really all about “meeting new people!” Not me. You shouldn’t feel obligated to be social all the time just because Portland is supposed to be “nice.” I’ve been friendly with my best friends for 25 years. It’s awesome. I don’t have to worry about them secretly having some racist tendencies that come out when they’re drunk or wanting to sell me leggings. Finding friends once and keeping them is really important—if for no other reason than not having to explain 500 times what you do for work, where you like to go for brunch, or if you ever make it up to Mount Hood.