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Best Eugene Stereotype

Illustration by Trask Bedortha
Illustration by Trask Bedortha

You see him everywhere in Eugene: a lizardy, milquetoast cross between Ned Flanders and Smeagol, he is most commonly sighted in liberal strongholds like Market of Choice or Saturday Market, where he saunters among crowds of like-minded progressives with his placid, smug smile and vapid eyes, surveying all that he approves. A senior citizen of the indubitably Caucasian persuasion, his prototypical garb runs in earth tones (khaki pants, open-toed sandals, Patagonia fleece) but his defining plumage is the Greek fisherman’s cap he wears at a jaunty tilt atop his balding head (sometimes with graying wisp of a ponytail protruding behind). 

This is “The Skipper” (Homo flaccidus), a version of aging hippie endemic to Eugene. Despite his benevolent, avuncular appearance, this wily creature is not to be trusted: He is the bourgeois ancestor of the evil slummers that invaded Haight-Ashbury in ’69, and his intentions are dishonest and purely vampiric. A classic poseur, The Skipper rides the vibe of progressive causes like a shark, seeking his advantage in a manner that would shame God himself. 

Peer long enough into the seasick visage of this boatless captain, and you will see the kind of pornographic, cowardly egotism that drives all peddlers of spiritual snake oil. Forever avoiding confrontations of any kind, what allows The Skipper to thrive in a touchy-feely place like Eugene is his facade of niceness, which is commonly mistaken for good intentions. The Skipper does not have good intentions: He is a hypocrite through and through, a rich man in poor man’s garb, and his appetites are venal (many skippers are also swingers) and driven by good-old greed and selfish advancement. 

From a singularly Darwinist perspective, it’s hard not to admire The Skipper’s chameleon-like (or perhaps cockroach-like) genius for making do: In his faux-adherence to progressive politics, he has melded the Age of Aquarius to the Age of Trump, and his long-term prospects for survival are as high as his tax-status bracket and the mileage on his Prius.