The quest for cool

I am a few months shy of my 36th birthday. For better or for worse, I am considered an adult. A grown up. A somewhat productive member of society. I like to think that I’ve had some success in my life to go along with some of the failure. For instance, I have never left the house without remembering to put on pants. Hey, I didn’t say I always set the bar high! You try walking around town with no pants and see how far you get. I dare you.

Anyway, one thing I don’t think I ever quite reached was that point where a person becomes cool. That’s right. One of the holy artifacts of high school. The mantle of cool. That point when you look in the mirror and not only think it yourself, but you KNOW that everyone else thinks the same thing. You are deemed to be cool. It’s a quest everyone starts in their youth, whether we realize it or not, and it never seems to go away.

So why am I not cool? For starters, this is not a word I’ve heard others use to describe me. That’s not to say I don’t ever get compliments, all of which I appreciate. Of course I’ve heard some less flattering things. Self-described beta male, remember? We kind of invite a certain level of mockery. But even that isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes just teasing from friends (or a loving yet snarky wife) that is meant in fun. But the point is, I can’t say I get told that I am cool.

I’m pretty sure I don’t dress cool. When I’m not dressed for work, I wear jeans and a T-shirt I likely purchased from ThinkGeek . Maybe a flannel shirt or sweatshirt over that. My style hasn’t changed much since the 90’s. I just like to be comfortable.

The things I like tend to lean towards nerdy. I enjoy fantasy novels and I play Dungeons and Dragons. If you haven’t yet read it, my last post was dedicated to superheroes. I have an undying love of all things Muppet. Seriously, you don’t know how excited I am that I get to watch Sesame Street with my kids. I own an R2-D2 bottle opener. I make up songs about our cat. Now, I realize some of these things are more acceptable to love now than they once were. Saying you like comics or the Lord of the Rings won’t make you quite the bully target that they used to. Neither will playing board games. But are they considered cool. I doubt it. I’m pretty sure making up a song about the cat to the tune of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” will always be very far from cool.

The funny thing is, I’m not quite sure what would make me cool. What is the current standard? I’m pretty sure that by the time I caught up to it, the definition will have changed again. Is it about confidence? If that’s the case, I think there are fewer cool people in the world than we realize. I don’t know many people who are void of insecurities. The ones who are may very well think they are cool. Those few people also happen to be totally oblivious to their flaws or the consequences of their actions. If that is what it takes to be cool, I don’t know that it’s worth the trade. I like that I am capable of introspection. Sure, I sometimes do this to a fault, but I think it proves that I’m still able to learn.

One last thing. I am the father of two little girls. One day, they will be two teenage girls. There is no way in Hell that they will think I am cool. What teenager really thinks that their parents are cool? So I like to think that I have one up on any parents who, unlike myself, are of the opinion that they are cool. I have the benefit of saying to my kids, “You don’t think I’m cool? That’s fine. I’m used to it. Now help Daddy find his dragon coffee mug.”

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