by ron collins
What makes a person cool? I think it begins with the name. Bobby Bones. Tim Tebow. Looks don’t hurt but are not always necessary: see Drew Carey. Personality is good: See Ryan Seacrest. Clothes and hair certainly play a factor a la The Fonz and Elvis, who had both.
I once was cool. That’s right…I said it. I was! I had the name. In high school I was RC Cola. In college I progressed to Dog. Yeah, I was Dog before Dog was cool. Don’t ask. That story is for another day.
I had the hair. It started in grade school, with The Beatles haircut and those wonderful bangs. My bangs hung left and right instead of straight down, but I styled with them just the same. In college, I had big hair. Wolfman Jack had nothing on this disco fool. And I know what you are thinking. I currently have no hair and I am aok with that. I have sported lambchop sideburns and Fu Manchu mustaches. Yeah, I was bad!
I will admit, my clothes left some things to be desired, due to monetary restrictions, but in my mind, I nailed it just the same. I’ve worn my jean bottoms straight, flared, boot, and bell, always corresponding with the current style. The wash has been regular, stone, and acid. The waist regular, low, and high rise, sometimes dictated by girth size. I started sagging way before it was cool. My jeans had holes long ago, though I was not proud of them. The only jeans I’ve not worn are skinny! Currently my jeans are stretch and smart. In addition, I’ve worn my slacks with cuffs, pleats, and flat front in khaki and yes, in the beautiful plaid of the seventies.
My kicks (notice the cool word) have been Vans, Adidas, Nike, Converse high tops, Wrangler boots, Bass penny loafers, white dress, and platform. Yes, I wore platform shoes. But I despise one shoe. I draw the line with Crocs. Never Crocs!
My threads (another cool word) have consisted of an assortment of stylish leisure suits, long and banded collared shirts, corduroy pants, dickie turtle necks and quad suits. All were accessorized with wide neckties, white belts, aviator sunglasses and the classic gold chain, embedded deep in chest hair.
I’ve shaken my groove thang (I know you’ve picked up on it by now) to disco, hustle, swing, and Cotton-Eyed Joe.
So, all this cool talk made me start thinking. When did I stop being cool? When did I start seeing early signs of losing my coolness?
I believe it started in my early thirties. That’s when unintentionally, I began wearing two different color socks. Yep, it happened. More than once. I could not believe my own eyes. Today, that’s cool.
Soon my uncoolness progressed to wearing two mismatched shoes. I hate admitting that, but it also happened. Then, spiraling out of control, I wore a different suit coat with pants. Not cool!
I moved into the serious category of uncoolness when I went to work one day admiring how my briefcase perfectly matched the burgundy stripe in my pants. Once at work, I opened the briefcase and revealed my deluxe backgammon game set. Not Cool!
One Friday evening, I looked around and I was shopping in Walmart! Walmart! On Friday night! The night that once was all right for a fight! It was as if I had entered the twilight zone. Are you kidding me? On a Friday night? I’d become so uncool. I could not find at least one cool activity better to spend my time than feeding the giant? Please!
Just when I did not think things could get worse, they did. One day at work, someone called out for me while I was walking full stride. I turned to acknowledge the person and proceeded to run directly into a pole, almost knocking myself out. Not cool!
Once I asked an employee when her baby was due. She told me she had her baby boy a month ago. Extremely not cool!
At church I once lost my cool when an usher told me my grandson was so cute. I told the usher he was not my grandson; he was my son. “No,” Mr. Usher proclaimed. “That can’t be your son!” Really? Stay strong! I’m weak! Father forgive me…Lost my cool.
My boys did their absolute best to be helpful with my coolness factor. “Dad quit wearing those cargo shorts. That’s not cool!”
“Dad, ya got some high waters going there, dontcha?” Translated; you have your pants pulled up under your arms producing pants that aren’t long enough.
“Dad, why do you have closed captioning on your tv? That’s the ultimate old man stuff!” they exclaim.
Sometimes I enjoy acting uncool. I love doing this at Starbucks. “Um, yeah, can I have a medium coffee, make it black” says the bald-headed one, pulling out his cash.
“Do you need room?” Starbuck asks.
“No, just coffee please.”
Starbuck states he wants to know if I need room for cream or sugar.
“No, that’s why I told you I want it black,” I say.
Starbuck gives up.
“That will be $2.11. Would you like to pay with your phone?
“No, here’s $2 and let me see if I have the 11 cents. Nope, here’s 26 cents.”
Starbuck, bumfuzzled, gives the penny back, puts 25 cents in the register and hands me 14 cents back.
So, who defines coolness? Is it possible that I could still be cool? Could I regain my coolness? Why, I believe I can. I think I’m cool again!