Seattle 2015 Update #1 - Biking While Texting And Drinking Latte
If you can see Mt. Rainier, it's going to rain. If you can't see Mt. Rainier, it's going to rain.
Just arrived here in lovely Seattle! The city where the weatherman is always right!
This is a cool city. A city of hipsters, which you can tell because everybody here wears sunglasses. They don't care if it's raining - they like sunglasses. Seattleites buy more sunglasses per capita than in any other city in the nation.
They also like bicycles here. Everybody's on a bike, going to work, home, everywhere smiling people rolling around on bikes. In the rain. With sunglasses.
It's like a whole city of happy, biking, wet people. So polite, so friendly!
Until they get to know you.
It's not that they become unfriendly, they're just not big on having actual friends. They'd prefer if you'd just leave them alone. Seattle license plates should say: "Welcome to Seattle! Have a nice day! Somewhere else."
This behavior has a name, they call it the "Seattle Freeze" * and say it may go back to frontier days when the ethic was "We're in this together, but I wish you'd go away."
When Seattleites say "Let's do something sometime" what they really mean is "Let's never do anything ever.
Here in Seattle we do a lot of things alone. We live alone: Two out of five households have a single occupant, one of the highest rates in the nation. We ride bikes alone; go on walks alone; troll bookstores alone, then go home and read alone.**
But we Easter Swing dancers don't have to worry about The Freeze. They figure we're only here for the weekend so they know we won't stick around to irritate them. All we're experiencing is their extremely polite, friendly, fake exteriors which we like a lot.
This hotel is a bit east of Seattle, across a floating bridge, a thing that Seattleites think is normal. We're here in Bellevue, in the neighborhood called "Eastside" located between Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish (where serial-killer Ted Bundy abducted two women and wife-assassin Randy Roth heaved his fourth wife off a raft and drowned her.)
Bellevue used to be all mining and logging. Then they decided they liked dairy cows and berries even better. Then they changed their minds again and started Microsoft, T-Mobile, Nintendo, AT&T, Verizon, Expedia, and Boeing. Some of them drove over the floating bridge and started Amazon and Starbucks.
They all still wear mining and logging clothes, however.
This hotel is gorgeous. It's huge - two gigantic towers separated by a sweeping, contemporary totally confusing atrium. I've already made a name for myself as "that ditz that gets lost in the lobby."
No Seattle Freeze in this hotel - they are frighteningly nice. Michelle at the front desk is so nice and so beautiful - she looks exactly like Mommie Dearest if Mommie never beat little girls with hangers or locked them in pool closets but instead sent two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc to their hotel room.
It takes about 25 minutes to get to the hotel from the airport. My cabbie talked the entire way. He loves Seattle. He's been here for 24 years but still has a thick something-Arab accent. He says minorities of all types know they're welcome here, not just accepted but embraced, which means awesome food from around the world.
We approached a golden city looming ahead in the night, beautiful, like Oz, skyscrapers and street lights golden and shimmering in the rain.
"This is Bellevue," said my cabbie. "Billionaires live here. Many billionaires. Multi-Billion Billionaires.
Cameras watch every car entering or exiting these neighborhoods, instant ticket if you go 1 mile per hour over the speed limit. I've gotten several of these."
Right in the middle of downtown we turned into the sweeping driveway of the Hyatt. Four happy smiling bellman rushed up to the cab to grab my suitcases and help me to the front desk.
So nice! I love it here so far.
- Seattle Freeze is has even made it into Urban Dictionary
- Julia Summerfield was so puzzled by Seattleites she wrote an article about them. "Social Dis-ease: Beyond the Smiles, the Seattle Freeze Is On," Seattle Times, February, 2005.