Portmanteau and my poor tanned toes: profile of a Yippy
One standard sweaty summer afternoon in Fremantle, Western Australia, I found myself rubbing bodies in a crowd of even sweatier dreadlocked folk as I tried to squeeze in a glimpse of rock local legend John Butler and, I suspect, his trio.
As bare toes were trod and the strong waft of herbal greens weaved through our armpits I listened to this Butler fellow tell me why I was there – to save the Kimberley from evil-doing gas-guzzling mining magnates. “Yeah!” I fist pumped with all the passion of someone who desperately hoped they were supporting something they would perhaps believe in had they bothered to follow the issue.
I romanticised about Woodstock and found my body swaying side to side, it felt liberating being a hippy, I thought. I was about to join in to some catchy catch cry about No More Gas when my boyfriend made a poignant point: “No More Gas? And how many of these people drove here?” Well, I did, I realised. I drove here with the roof down and my ray-ban rip offs lowered as my recently swedish massaged body relaxed into the firm leather seats. I wasn’t a hippy, I admitted. I was a yippy – the latest portmanteau I expect to soon trend on twitter. A try-to-be hippy and a try-not-to-admit-to-be yuppy: a yippy.
Yippy (aka yippee) also means an exclamation of delight, I realise, which is a fortunate homonym as the yippy demographic has everything to be thankful for: all the comforts of affluence but with all the deluded sense of freedom that comes from muddy feet and free-spirited company.
I’ve thrown myself into my fair share of genuinely rough and uncomfortable travel and living arrangements before; i’ve vomited over shit-covered bog holes on dodgy trains in India and washed my clothes in bathroom sinks while living in cramped, smelly bed-bug infested backpackers. Hell I’ve even had beads knotted into my hair! But the reason I enjoyed all these experiences was because I was doing it all by choice, I had willingly chosen the harder way of living and travel just for a taste of something different, for my own learning and entertainment. I always knew I could opt out any time if I really wanted to. Except for the beads, those tangly bastards don’t come out.
I’m not sure there’s anything too wrong with enjoying this yippy lifestyle; I pay taxes, I don’t smoke weed and you won’t find me staying on your couch past my welcome. (I was once told that guests, like fish, start to smell after three days.)
But what the yippy lifestyle lacks is the passion, and in particular the genuine environmental advocacy, that comes from genuine hippy stock. The yippy is also too hung up on the delusion of living a transient lifestyle to make the same wise investments those thoroughbred yuppies make.
Standing in the long port-a-loo line at this Save the Kimberley concert, I watched three younger yippies in front of me shift side-to-side while taking selflies on their iPhones.
“I’m gonna tag us in, I mean check us in on Facebook. What’s this concert about again?” I heard one ask her friend using a squeaky upward inflection.
“Isn’t this something about the Kimberley?” one asked in the same pitch.
“No you idiots!” the third said with a more mature tone. “Perth is no where near the Kimberley, I’m pretty sure this is about saving the whales, or whatever.”
An overwhelming sense of superiority spread through my body and down to my scratched, stomped on and slightly bloody faked-tanned toes and then a second wave of emotion hit which I recognised as shame. I wasn’t any better, I realised. I’d bought a t-shirt , the proceeds of which went to the cause, but I only bought it because it said Save the Kimberley, which happens to be my name.
The port-a-loo door swung open and ‘miss save the whales’ scurried in with urgency, keen to make her first and only contribution to the event.
At least I bought a t-shirt.