What the fuck does it mean to be Cool?
My entire adolescence reads as an Odyssey of sorts, a fumbling about in the dark, a long and winding road that hopefully dead ends at some point with an answer this puzzling question.
But I'm not keeping my fingers crossed.
See, it's always been a mystery to me, what makes someone truly cool. Just when I think I've identified an actual cool person, just when I've outlined in my mind the key factors that make that person cool, they'll blow it and do a magic trick, or be into race-cars, or have a girlfriend--and in an instant the wind is swiftly swept from my sails, and again I am left to wonder...
There's a lot of confusion surrounding the issue of Coolness. Lines are easy to cross, and the shades of gray...well, they are many. Like, it's cool to watch 'The Office,' but it's not cool to make awkward jokes at work (ala Michael Scott.) And what about drugs? We're taught that they're definitely NOT cool in elementary school, but then the rules abruptly change and in junior high it's like, only the cool kids smoke pot and sneak their parents' booze. The definition of the word, and whatever attitude it implies is so fucked up and challenging and I've never fully grasped it...
And yet Coolness, while it remains an intangible mystery shrouded in a dense fog, is also the only real thing I know exists.
So really. Someone please tell me. I'd kind of like to start implementing some changes.*
Because there is no Rosetta Stone for this kind of thing. No rules or regulations. My high school calculus teacher may have been the coolest man alive, but the same could be said of John Lennon, or even my Dad on a good day. In the milieu of fleeting trends and unbearable fads, bandwagons and here-today-gone-tomorrows, it's hard to know what actually qualifies. Is coolness based on what you wear? What you listen to? How attractive you are? Is it owning nothing but vinyl or having the newest iPod? Is it knowing how to play the guitar, or having a boyfriend who does?
Hmm. I don't have any of those things. Fuck. See why I need help?
Try as you might, you may never actually learn how to be it, but you sure as shit know cool when you see it.
And last weekend, I saw it. In the most unlikely of places.
Last weekend while I was hanging out at my aunt and uncle's house, I saw cool happen. My visit happened to fall on the same day as an annual get together they host for a group of friends who have apparently all known each other since high school. Keep in mind, that's a helluva long time; these people all qualified for AARP like, 20 years ago. So they gather at the house, eat greasy lasagna, drink cheap wine.... and (drumroll, please) do Jello shots.
Seriously. Jello shots.
Maybe I'm over-stating my reaction when I say I was blown away by this, but at first I honestly didn't know how to respond. When a gray-haired woman with intimidatingly blue eyeshadow and imposing bosoms shoves a tray of those things in your face, the experience alone can make you dizzy with surprise.
"I'm sorry ma'am, shouldn't you be a 20-year-old frat boy? Where is your bunk-bed and your ulterior motive? Can I trust this Jello shot? Should I be worried about my reputation?...Wait, are you my grandma?"
I guess the point, and really the humor of all this lies in the fact that even though the Jello Shot-Fairy was at least 67, probably diabetic, and in severe need of some hair-dye--things that would usually land you in the uncool category**--she was undeniably the most clued-in guest at the Lasagna Party. Her very presence and the intoxicating gifts she bore flipped all my notions of coolness upside down. Again.
And you know, so what? So maybe there is no formula for being cool. Maybe it's totally possible and it's just a matter of time before I'm 67 and diabetic and force-feeding my overweight, geriatric friends Jello shots that could potentially kill them.
At least being cool is totally possible.
*Preferably sooner than later, because at some point I'd like to get married and maybe even have kids, and I think being cool would help me achieve those goals.
**Sorry, Diabetes is not cool.