I think one of more “I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone say that” things I miss about living in 90s Seattle is the general approach most people had about rain when it fell. Which happened, but not as often as you are lead to believe during warmer months.
I don’t know if this is at all true anymore — the last time I visited was around 2002 — which is why I limit it to my narrow experience in 1994. From what I understand, the population and personality might have gotten a bit more Californicated (no offense to my friends from Cali, but that’s what folks in Seattle (then) and, now, in Montana say when you migrate to their places of residence) and the carefree approach towards rain and, hell, daily life, might have gotten more complex since then.
But when I was living there, my experience was:
- October through March: heavy rain occasionally, but mostly persistent drizzle (more mist than drizzle), lots of fog, light snow (by Minnesota standards) once or twice
- April through September: drizzle like clockwork early morning or late evening or both; mostly dry during the daytime with the occasional mist (not really drizzle) on “rainy days”
- Earthquakes more common than thunderstorms. I don’t recall thunder the whole time I lived in Seattle, survived a very very very minor rattle someone called an earthquake.
Anyway, you could always tell the residents of the city from the tourists. Tourists carried their bumpershoots/umbrellas with them. Residents tended to go without. And adjusted their fashion sense accordingly.
You may or may not recall that the 90s were still suffering from the whole “the bigger the hair, the closer to God” mantra that the 80s espoused. At least in Minnesota, it was a thing as we had tons of hair-band rocker fans with big-assed hair and punk wannabe preppies who thought copious amounts of Aquanet and garish makeup combined with their Polo and Coke shirts made them “edgy”. When I moved to Seattle, one thing that stood out was that very few people had artificially big hair (men or women). Instead, you saw far more practical hairstyles and clothing choices, considering that you never knew if and when it might mist/drizzle, or for how long. And clothes were in layers (much like Minnesota, which can go from freezing to sultry or the other way around in a matter of a single day) so you could toss a shirt around your waist until it dried off if you got “misted”. The “rain” rarely penetrated the first layer and, when it did, you basically just dealt with it. More often then not, the mist collected in fine droplets on the fabric and didn’t even soak in.
The mists were awesome for my hair, which is naturally curly. I wore it long back then, and it fell like a cascading waterfall that clumped into giant ringlets thanks to the mist in the air. I was the envy of many women that I met at the time because of it. Zero product, because it would just create a mess if I put anything in my hair — plus, none was needed.
After the divorce with my first wife, I ended up living in a studio apartment downtown, quite accidentally in the up-and-coming Bell Town neighborhood just before it exploded as being the “in place” to live (that may have changed since, I haven’t kept up). I lived about half a block away, again purely by accident, from the famous Crocodile Cafe, where a bunch of grunge bands made their name around that time (I only saw Presidents of the United States of America there on comp). Needless to say, there was an interesting mix of younger folk like myself and more yuppified types. I walked everywhere (she got the vehicle), so I got to do lots of people-watching.
And I instantly had crushes on many women who walked through (those innocent types of crushes where you know it is transient and never going anywhere because you’d actually have to say something and you had no intention of saying anything). Why? Because so many were so beautiful when they gave up on trying to put on artificial appearances. They wore their hair however it fell with minimal hair product, they went light on the makeup so the mists wouldn’t ruin it and wore their real faces, they rarely tried to “dress up” during the daytime hours… etc. Of course, that might change when “going out” at night, but the daytime was so relaxed and real. Why? Because, why fight nature?
Now granted, I’m a little bit weird — I can usually find something beautiful about every woman I meet, and I never have to look too hard. The only prerequisite (I think) is that they have to be beautiful on the inside for me to find something beautiful. If you are a cruel or ugly person inside, it usually shows to me for whatever reason. I know some guys have certain “beauty” requirements in their standards, but I’ve never quite understood their notions, which often seem quite focused on one element or another. “Are you a tits or ass man, Michael?” I was asked once. My response was, “Yes,” which pissed off the guy asking. “Well, are you into legs?” “Sure!” “Are you a legs man, then?” “I like hair too. And lips. And eyes.” “What kind of things are you most into?” “Yes.” SCREAM!
And so on an so forth.
But, going back to the Seattle thing, I’ll grant quite a few men looked good too, but I didn’t pay as much attention to that. My neighbor, an in-your-face-over-the-top gay man, was absolutely beautiful, but he was a kind soul as well and I swapped smokes with him over the balcony rails more than just a few times when one or the other needed some. He needed toothpaste once, so I gave it to him as well. Well, I may have given more than I received… But I owed him; he mothered the shit out of me during the divorce.
But my neighbor was also prone to minimalism because of the weather. He only got really made up on club nights and, even then, it was pretty minimal compared to most standards.
I miss that about Seattle. How you could walk the streets and see so many lovely people being themselves. Because — you can’t fight the rain, so why bother.