Friday, January 22, 2016


Portlandish by Warren Bull

Now we live in Portland, Oregon. As a newcomer there are a number of things I’ll have to get used to. When the plane landed in Portland, I heard the usual instructions such as, “Keep your seat belts fastened until we arrive at the gate and the seatbelt light goes off.” Then the stewardess added, “Keep Portland Weird.”

That is a local saying that the natives take seriously. At the baggage claim area I saw a scruffy older man wearing a skirt. It was definitely not a kilt. It was not a dress.  It was a mid-thigh length skirt. I didn’t question his choice of skirt length; he did not have shapely legs.

In the newspaper the forecast for the next six days indicated tomorrow would be, “Wet at times,” followed the next day by “Showers and Sun.”  Later in the week it predicted, “Partly Sunny” for two days. After that, “Rain Develops.”  And finally, “On and Off Showers.” I can guess the difference between partly sunny and the other days, but distinguishing between the other forecasts has me baffled. 

My wife lived here for a decade years ago, but she was not able to enlighten me about the differences between the forecasts. When I figure it out, I will let you know.

I have decided that since I live in Portland now I should adapt to the culture.  My sister, Peggy, pointed out that since Judy and I arrived here on Christmas Day, we have been in Portland for this entire year.  We came here last year.  That surely makes us residents.

I bought a knit cap when my ears felt like they were about to freeze and drop off.  Compared to what the well-dressed Oregonian wears, the cap is the wrong color and style.  It is neon blue, which is certainly an appropriate choice for hair, but a bit passé for caps. It is also thicker than most caps around here.  If the people at the coffee shop are models of current fashion (Why wouldn’t they be?) the cap should be worn all time indoors. I shelled out almost $3.00 to bring my headgear into compliance. I already had hiking boots. I bought a flannel checkered shirt and jeans to complete my native costume.  That added roughly another $15.00 to the tab.

In other Portlandish cultural matters, national ads depict attractive people who are neatly groomed.  Local ads show men with either full beards, or at least soul patches, whose hair resembles a haystack.  Women in local ads show a rainbow of hair colors beyond those provided by nature.  Clothing worn in local ads ranges from casual to street-person-chic.

My wife, Judy, advised me against dying my hair.  I could let it grow but since I have no hair on the top of my head and my hair is curly, I’m sure I would end up with a Bozo the Clown hairstyle. 

I saw a dry cleaner sign that said – Unemployed and have an interview?  We will clean one outfit for free.  Churches advertise their beliefs on signs outside their buildings such as Stop Global Warming and #Black Lives matter.  Cars stop for pedestrians, even when the cars have a green light.

Walking during a light rain, I saw two people using umbrellas and about forty people who did not bother.  

Ha! We residents can always pick out the tourists. 


  1. We pulled into Cincinnati from Atlanta in January. After her first day at her new high school, my daughter told me, "they wear sweat pants and uggs," a huge change from her stylish Atlanta high school.

    The grocery store at Super Bowl time had beer stacked to the rafters, more than I'd ever seen before. And sausages, including a local specialty, goetta.

    And of course, the chili.

  2. Warren,

    Great setting for a mystery novel! So unique. I love it.

  3. I loved living in Portland. The Longfellow house, Calendar Bay, the B&M plant. Oh, wait, you mean the other Portland. Hope you love it there as much as I loved the one in Maine.

  4. I can see you sporting stylish magenta hair under your neon-blue hat, Warren. Judy's just a killjoy. I think you should start working on a mystery set there right away. You won't even have to make up any quirky characters. You've got a whole city of them. (I think they stole that "Keep Portland weird" line from the Austin, Texas residents who've had it for about half a century.)

  5. Warren, I'm glad you're settling in well there. I agree that you should start a new mystery set in Portland.

  6. Good luck settling in!

    It does sound like the people of Portland appreciate letting people be themselves, no matter how weird, so enjoy it.

  7. Sounds like you are settling in, Warren. Are you growing the beard, next?

  8. Warren, it sounds like your'e settling in! And no doubt you're not missing the current temperatures in KC! We, however, miss you both. Cheers!

  9. Go total genre, Warren. It rains there. Convenient for wearing trench coats and Columbo hats. Act like a PI casing the joint. Make people wonder. Make it your own!