Walter Mencken 5:01 p.m., Nov. 25
- Community Blog
The Loss of "Cool"
Just when does someone stop being cool? When do you pass from hip or with it to passe? I mean, is it an age thing solely or maybe one just falls out of practice. Can you lose the cool thing like you lose muscle tone in your inner thighs because instead of working it, you are busy keeping children and pets alive? If you are over 35, it seems harder to keep the cool thing going living in San Diego. Everywhere you are reminded of just how "uncool" you have become.
I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line I was kicked out of the cool club. I say kicked out, because I don't remember deciding to drop my membership. I'm still fairly young, (okay, maybe not by San Diego standards, but I'm happenin' in the Midwest). I can still fit in my wedding dress (although I no longer "fit in" with the guy I wore it for). And I even own one pair of those shoes that skaters wear (although I never wear them, and yes, I call them "tennis shoes" or "sneakers" - mmmm, the big picture is starting to come into view here).
So what if a couple of decades have passed since people used phrases like "what the heave?" and "say it don't spray it." When did it stop being cool to call someone a "goiter" instead of a "geek." (Is it still cool to call someone a "geek"? No one tells you these things). I say that stuff in a funny way with sorta an attitude. You know like I'm in the "know" but I don't really care. Isn't that cool? I just never think to say things like, "I know, right" when someone says something I agree with, or to call someone "dude" (especially another woman). But isn't "cool" an attitude more than a vernacular?
That's a serious question. I want (need) to know. I mean, all those guys from the 60's who now have white chest hairs popping up here and there and iron their jeans...are still cool. They've got that swagger thing, you know. The phrase, "yeah man" naturally rolls off their tongues. You can just picture them saying "cool" or "groovy" or "far out" with their first two fingers forming a 'v'. If I say it even the cat chokes back a laugh. When they straddle a bike somewhere that "Get Your Motor Running...." song starts playing and you nod your head in acknowledgment of their coolness. It's timeless. So, how did I lose mine if they still got theirs and they're older?
Don't tell me you either have it or you don't, or it's a state of mind. Because I did have it-I was with the "in" crowd, sat at the cool kids table-and it can't be a state of mind. I inwardly think I'm cool, but outwardly even I see I've become a dork. Something my kids, Edward and Adam, have been telling me for years, (but they were wrong when they said it then-they were!)
Losing your cool is limiting too. For example, I used to love to dance. Not that couple thing, the free style thing. You know to Modern English's "I'll Stop the World and Melt With You," or AC/DC "Back in Black"...even New Radical's "You Get What You Give" (which is proudly displayed on my "MySpace" page-although I understand MySpace is no longer cool). The point being I love all kinds of music and can move my body in a coordinated way, but I now shun the dance floor. Even when I "bust a move" privately I now avoid the mirror. Flashes of my dear Father spring to mind, snapping his fingers and doing that jazzy-quick-step-spin thing, with a sharp sideways break of the head, pulling my Mom in and reeling her back out again. I shiver. Remembering how, regardless of how well he danced, his style of dance dated him. And, Dad's can't be cool, at least not once their kids become cool. So is that it? Did I make my Dad uncool? Did MY kids take my cool?! Dammit, wasn't my youth enough!
I just know though I've lost my cool. Bummer. Maybe it's packed. Maybe it can be revived. But I don't know how to get it back. Do they give lessons, or if I found a "cool friend" could I be cool by association?
Unless you have some suggestions, I think it is hopelessly lost. Because I can't naturally use the current hip vernacular (which now-a-days is used by people in their 30's...maybe using the phrase, "now-a-days" is part of the uncool conundrum, huh?). I won't wear jeans that show my butt crack if I sneeze. I don't wear big Mama hipsters either, but still. The one pair of Vans I own (which my very cool Edward picked out for me) feel like big dirt clods tied to my feet so no go with those. I have stopped using my hot rollers, but no way can I do that hair style where your hair just juts out in stick-like strands at the sides (and just when did fuchsia colored strands come back in someone please tell me?) I am thought of as the "cool Aunt" so that should count for something. And I still get attention from guys 10 years younger, (okay, only occasionally anymore) tho I'm no cougar, and sorry I have a boyfriend (monogamy is still cool, right?) ... Not to mention I wear jeans with holes in the knees both hiking and out for sushi...so what the "heave" happened?
All I know is for the first time in my life I'm on the outside looking in. I see it; I feel it. And I don't know when I crossed over.
(Taken by Joseph Collins, Anza-Borrego Desert, California)