The Illusory Nature of the Uninhibited Being
Is coolness really worth it?
If you could push a button that instantly made you cool, would you do it? Anyone still bearing scar tissue from middle school might give it consideration. But, in a bizarre and unfair paradox, it turns out pushing that button actually eliminates you from ever achieving ass-kicking levels of chillness.
One of the cruel realities of life is that the harder you try to be cool, the quicker coolness moonwalks out of your reach.
Who wouldn’t want to be cool? Who wouldn’t try for it? Cool people are inexplicably fascinating. They’re surrounded by glitter and motor oil and tiny birds singing the choruses to David Bowie songs. They look awesome on posters and have good hair. Of course we all want to be cool.
There are lots of real world benefits to coolness. People are less likely to stick your head in a toilet or respond to your twitter posts with the 🙄 emoji when you’re cool.
Cool people can also wear leather jackets and punch jukeboxes to make them play music.
(Yes, my concept of coolness is at least partially derived from Happy Days. I mean, Henry Winkler is still cool at the age of 73. That’s a level of coolness us normal dweebies can barely comprehend.)
I spent a lot of time thinking about coolness when I was a kid, because I was decidedly not cool. I wore thick glasses, rolled my leggings into shorts and tended to obsess over the wrong things.
(For example: My first concert experience where I saw Peter, Paul and Mary perform live. Yeah, I really talked that one up at show-and-tell the next morning. I even repeated some of the jokes for my classmates, so sure I’d finally figured out how to win them over.)
I was never going to be cool. It just wasn’t in my DNA. But I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working. I tried harder. I planned my outfits carefully, trying to depict the same nonchalant effortlessness as the models in the JCPenny catalog. If one scrunchie was cool, I wore five (with an additional sixth around my ankle).
If someone had told me I was trying too hard, I would have added more scrunchies. To my wrists, my t-shirt, each finger. OH GOD! MORE SCRUNCHIES! MORE! THIS HAS TO WORK!
Reader, it did not.
Let’s examine The Fonz’s evil twin, Danny Zuko from Grease.
Both characters were 50s via 70s bad boys with similar costuming and swagger. But, where as The Fonze’s coolness was bred of effortlessness, Danny worked really, really hard at his.
He walked the walk, but he was so obsessed with his own image that he was willing to torch a relationship with a total babe, because she looked like the sort of person unlikely to send him nudes he could share with his idiot friends. (I have a few issues with Grease.)
For all his posturing, I wouldn’t be surprised if Danny went home at the end of the day, threw on an episode of Happy Days and took extensive notes in a little purple notebook.
Sorry Danny. Verdict = Not Cool.
But, let’s be honest, most of us are Zukos, not Fonzs. And there’s a good evolutionary reason for that.
Cool people aren’t historically great at keeping themselves alive.
Put yourself in Danny’s shoes. He senses the pack approaching. He knows these people are wolves, that they have the power to not only decimate his rep, but also shove him inside a locker the size of a shoebox so when he gets out his arms are where his legs used to be and his legs are in Kansas. So what does he do? He does the practical thing and cedes his own desires to the desires of the pack.
What does the Fonze do?
That’s pretty cray. He probably shouldn’t have survived that.
(The ratings sure didn’t! Wakka wakka!)
So the next time a mysterious figure enters your life and offers you a coolness button, wave them away. Do you really want to be cool? Is coolness a necessary component of life? No. Just do your thing and carry mace so no one tries to stick your head in a toilet.
Besides, it doesn’t matter how many coolness points you rack up. Once you hit parenthood all gains are gone, because you will never be cool to your kids. No matter how many Peter, Paul and Mary concerts you take them to.
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