Periodically I find myself pondering the elusive notion of "coolness." It perplexes and awes me that some people seem to attain the heights of cool—or, at least, a reasonable amount thereof—seemingly without any effort. And then there's the idea of the relevance of coolness. At some point, one would think, perceived cool would be a sort of high-school notion, something to be left behind, more or less, in favor of judging people by more easily definable attributes like kindness or achievement or intelligence or generosity.
BUT NOOOO, to quote a rather crusty old episode of SNL. The adult world is riddled with a lot of the same posturing and social stratification as adolescence. Now, I've never really been one to worry about gaining approval from the "cool kids," then OR now, but then, I've also never had to worry about being mistaken for cool. Nerdy? Yes. Artistic? Sure. Weird? Very probably. Incomprehensible? On occasion. But cool? That's debatable. And I can't help but wondering what cool is, and how people get there, and why there is a sudden increase in exclusionary behavior—deliberate or not—when they do. Of course, I'm also guilty of creating coolness distinctions where there may be none, so I think it's a two-way street.
I should point out that this sort of cool/uncool distinction isn't always paranoia on my part—I don't usually go around grumping to myself about how such-and-such a cool person won't give me the time of day, so they must think I'm a total loser. Oh, I might joke about it. And I might be paranoid in other ways. But I do find myself just a bit pouty at times about others' coolness, even about the social standing granted by particular forms of success but not by other forms of achievement. (Success has to be measurable by appropriate and easily understood standards, after all.)
And you'd never mistake ME for cool. I don't dress well enough, for a start. In fact, I'm kind of unkempt in general, especially if you expand your view to include items like my house and car. My career is neither exciting nor lucrative at the moment, so I don't have any good small talk for parties, not that I'm very good at small talk anyway.
I've decided the best thing I have going for me is mysteriousness. If I don't say much about what I'm doing, then for all you know, I could be working on something super secret and totally awesome. I could be the world's coolest person, so cool that I'm saving everyone from being blinded by my awesomeness by pretending to be a dork. Uh, yeah, that must be it.
Thanks, everyone, for all the positive vibes. I've been a little better since my last post, though I'm still feeling a bit crisis-y as far as my career is concerned. And I can't help thinking I'm a little old to be wondering what I want to do when I grow up. It's not normal, is it? Then again, I'm not sure normality suits me...