These four words could tell no greater truth–I am not cool! I have never been cool, and while I might have wished to be cool, I know few truly cool people to help me become cool.
When I visit the barber shop (aka. hair stylist) I look at the cool doos (dudes?) pictured, though none seem a good fit my warm personality and lifestyle. I might say to the barber “how about that mullet.” She typically responds, “are you sure?” I say, “maybe not!”
Social media adds totally fail to entice me to attempt a lifestyle change in order to become something, someone I can rarely is ever imagine. My clothing demonstrates the very best in mediocre fashion and the worst in cool hip. I used to borrow my elder brother’s military greens which were wash only and no dry. When the pants split I used staples to secure the embarrassing gap, I then covered the pointed metal with masking tape. If coolness had anything to do with dismal sartorial accomplishment I would rival Elvis in popularity. Even now, I wear comfortable shorts most of the year accompanied by an endless variety of plain coloured T-shirts, proudly through all seasons.
So who is cool? Well certainly Fonzie from Happy Days. I love his line “I want to be a cop so I get paid to ride a motorcycle.” That’s cool, very cool. Then there’s Pat the cameraman; he grew up in Libya in the early days of Muammar Gaddafi; he travelled the world, did lots of things, mostly legal. He is in his mid-sixties, has long hair and by his own admission is the coolest member of his townhouse strata (populated by seniors twice his age). He shoots videos for all the Blazer’s games and loves Led Zeppelin. Now that’s cool.
In high school, where coolness matters, I found every opportunity to flourish under the social radar. So I worked in the yearbook darkroom behind closed doors. I spent many hours as a theatre lighting technician often in the murky dusk visual designs. I provided audio visual equipment services to classroom teachers, gathering with my socially reclusive companions in the AV storeroom almost every lunch hour.
In my early twenties I studied playing the pipe organ—now there is an isolating practice if there ever was one. Is that cool? I thought so at the time, though widespread cultural interest throughout Western Europe and North America has steadily declined since the early 18th century. Hours upon hours were spent rehearsing trio sonatas, hymn rhapsodies, preludes, fugues, toccatas and fantasias, none however as the cool air in drafty and chilly churches and cathedrals.
The other night my wife and I turned on Saturday Night Live, our rather feeble attempt to engage with and enjoy a dose of popular culture. I love sketch comedy especially when directed towards current events. (I am admittedly more of a Carol Burnett than an SNL man.) That admitted, we stumbled across an SNL take on the very au courant event, Oscar meets Will and Chris. While not a Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice redux, it is I believe supposed to be really cool. At the end of the sketch, which was modestly funny–more in presentation than in script I must say (somewhat akin to this short essay)–Kathie turned to me and exclaimed: “I don’t think we are cool enough for this.”
Unable to return to our usual patois of public television and knowledge network murder mysteries we did what most un-cool-sixty-something adults would have done. We found a re-run of Ask This Old House—tonight’s feature, unclogging toilets, sinks and storm drains. They showed a very cool cutaway of a toilet—how many of us know to pull the plunger instead of thrusting it downward. Now that’s a Saturday night live experience for my money. So cool; so very cool.