When I was in the 7th grade I coined the phrase “Geekaroni” which actually stuck. People used it for the better part of the year when referring to anything that wasn’t cool. “Ugh, that teacher is soooo geekaroni.” That was probably the coolest I have ever been.
When I was a kid, being cool was easily definable. The only requirement was being well liked. The dynamics of being cool changed slightly in middle school with the introduction of “cool” clothing. Being stylish became a large part of the cool requirement. In high school the Darwinian alpha male thing really took its foothold. The strongest, best looking and most charming were the coolest. Everyone else was second tier, 3rd string or some form of geekaroni (C’mon, let’s get geekaroni trending again).
Later on in my twenties being cool meant something else entirely. There was a major shift in the cool paradigm. Being cool meant detached, aloof, maybe even dangerous. Experts refer to it as ironic detachment and it’s cool as fuck. Therein lies my problem–I give too many fucks. I care about everything way too much.
Another point in my life that I may have been cool was some time in the grungy 90’s. I was a young twenty something working in an artsy coffee joint. I had grown my hair out long and pierced my ears and nose. Again I’m not sure if I was cool because I have always lacked the aloofness cool people possess. I certainly looked the part. But simply looking the part is not enough. No it always comes down to attitude. The Fonz had it. Elvis had it. Han Solo had it. Even my own dad had it. That laid back, insouciant, devil may care disposition. Yeah, that’s it. These guys were the epitome of cool and it was all about the attitude. Here’s an example:
The other day I went into my favorite cool people coffee shop–and was greeted by the 20-something barista-bro with gauged ears and full tattoo sleeves. I use the term greeted loosely.
Barista Bro: Hey brother, what’s good?
Me: Oh hey, Brother. I mean, um, Bro. (In my head: What the hell does ‘What’s good’ mean?)
Barista Bro: *Blank stare
Me: I’m pretty good bro, how are you?
Barista Bro: I’m swass, brother.
Me: (What the fuck does swass mean?) Yeah, absolutely. Me too. I’m just Swass and stuff, (In my head: nailed it).
Bro: *Blank stare.
Me: (Shit! You fucked up! Say something cool!) Uhhhhh… the ummm.
Barista Bro: *Blank stare
Me: You know, I’m just out doin the daily swassification. You know how it is.
Bro: *Blank stare
Me: *Blank stare
Bro: You get the Ethiopian pour over right?
I’m not sure why getting cool approval from a twenty something is important. That guy wasn’t my peer. His entire life revolves around being unaffected by his surroundings. But I think maybe there’s something in everyone that makes us want to be cool and makes us seek approval from verified cool people.
Something I am sure of is that not only am I uncool, I am a full-fledged card carrying, dad-doofus. My singing is shushed by my children. My cowlick is smoothed down by judgmental little hands in the morning. I’m asked repeatedly not to speak in a Irish accent to the crossing guards. My life is uncool. I spend my days yelling at cars to slow down in the school zone. I get giddy when the NPR Christmas catalog shows up. I enjoy deconstructing and improving Daniel Tiger plots. I’m un-fucking-cool.
Let me ask you, what’s your definition of cool? I mean… the idea of what’s cool is pretty much all over the board these days. Everyone’s idea of cool is slightly different. Apparently being a nerd is cool now? What kind of paradoxical bullshit is that? All the old standbys seem to be timelessly cool e.g. Tattoos, sense of humor, no fucks given attitude. But now there’s a whole slew of new cool axioms. Did you know that neck tattoos are cool now? Inking your neck was something you only did if your daily commute was to and from the yard in an orange jumpsuit. Now it’s the ultimate symbol of not giving a fuck. It shouts “Fuck you, this is my art and this is my body, you can look away if it bothers you.” And yeah I’ll admit–that manner of thinking is cool as fuck.
Why should it even matter if I’m cool? Who cares? Besides me. And my children. And probably my wife. Unfortunately for them I will probably never be cool again. Unless being attached, concerned and stricken with cowlicks somehow becomes cool.
So this is it–my declaration to the world–I am uncool. I will never know what cool feels like again. At this point in my life I will never know what the latest cool lingo is, (young people just make words up anyway. Swass, what kind of crap is that) I will never drive a cool car or listen to cool music. I am uncool. And strangely… I think that knowing I’m not cool somehow makes me cool. Right? Just a little? I know, I know. *Sighs deeply. I’m total Geekaroni.