Sunday, September 11, 2005

On Being Cool. Or Not.

I'm reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. One of the chapters is called, "Church: How I Go Without Getting Angry," and in that chapter, he talks about the church he attends in Portland called Imago Dei. He mentions "this friend from Seattle named Mark who was the pastor of a pretty cool church near the University of Washington, in the village."

And I realized that my church is not cool. I kind of felt the littlest bit wistful, realizing how uncool our church is, too. If churches had flavor, that cool church would be mocha (and more) and our church would be vanilla.

I was cleaning up the kitchen table after dinner (which my long-suffering husband rustled up since I am still trying to not die from coughing). For some reason, I was thinking about what "kids these days" (I always feel like an old-fogey when I use that phrase and it makes me laugh) are wearing. Specifically, which fashions are cool.

And I realized that I couldn't pick cool clothes out of a well-lit store. I notice what girls wear, but I can't really tell you what cool boys wear. This would be problematic for my kids, if only they actually cared about their appearances.

I've never been trendy, really, except for a time in the eighties when big hair was the rage. My hair just happened to be long, blond and frizzy. I looked like a member of a hair-band. The fashions of the time, leggings and big shirts, worked well for me. There was a time when I could at least recognize the hippest songs on the radio and even hum along.

But my life's intesections with "cool" have been mostly accidental, I'm afraid. I'm terrifically, overwhelmingly not cool.

I don't have an iPod, nor any digital music device. And I don't want one.

I couldn't care less about enormous, expensive leather bags, nor small cupcake-sized dogs to carry around in them.

I can't hum even a line of "Hollaback Girl".

I don't "get" rap and I can't stand how everything is misspelled and mispronounced in modern music.

I don't drink anything stronger that Diet Coke.

I never watched "Sex in the City" and we don't have HBO. Or TiVo.

I still use Blogger for my blog and I use a plain, old, prefab template. I have no polls, no clocks, no "100 Things About Me."

I drive a 1993 Mercury Sable.

I live in the land of Starbucks, yet I don't drink coffee, fancy or plain.

I used to want to be cool, but that was back in 1978. My parents never bought me cool clothes, nor did we go on any cool vacations. I had no cool friends and my hair never feathered in the cool fashion of the day. (Natural curls do not "feather," especially in a rainy climate.) Of course, when you are thirteen, you want to be cool because you don't realize how much more to life there is than blending in like a chameleon.

And when you're forty, you realize it's hopeless and that you never will be cool and that furthermore, who cares? Now I know why my dad wore those hideous shoes and flannel shirts with holes in the elbows. He'd given up on being cool, too.

Cool, shmool. Who needs it?


Blogger Chelsea said...

I've been told by some younger than I, that I don't seem as "old" as 53. Does that mean I'm cool? At 53 is it uncool to be cool?

10:50 PM  
Blogger Edna B said...

Hey, not caring about being cool makes you cool! You're right out there!

5:09 AM  
Blogger Julana said...

Go for comfort, is what I say.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

So what you are saying is that you're hot stuff? I think that's pretty cool. :)

BTW I never drank coffee either until I hit my 50s. We are quite alike, except your politics are all wrong. :-P But then mine use to be too.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Vashti said...

I LOVED this post. And just so you know...Vanilla is just as lovely as mocha in my book. I think we might have shared the common bond of big-hair coolness. I might be personally responsible for the hole in the ozone (gallons of Aquanet in the 80's). My 5 year old reminds me of how actually uncool I am when she sees what I'm wearing and says "Mom, that's not fashion." (Hence part of the reason I'm homeschooling....character must preside over "fashion.") My fancy shoe collection consists of my winter Birks and my summer Birks. How cool is that? What can I say? Function over fashion for I am a busy woman and if I'm never cool that is fine with me. I'd rather people say "she raised some wonderful human beings!" Thanks for the wonderful post. Have a great day!

7:29 AM  
Anonymous mopsy said...

Summer and winter Birks? You would be the Queen of Boulder, Vashti. Cool is sometimes an issue of locale.

The coolest people don't realize how cool they are. I thought Richie was much cooler than the Fonz.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Ginger said...

Yeah, I agree. Cool, schmool.

My stepdaughter remarked to me once that most people seem to get stuck in the fashions of clothes and hair that were "in" when they were young adults. I've been watching. She's right. And it's Okay.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Everyone's definition of cool is so different, I am sure you are considered the coolest by quite a few people.

That was meant as a compliment. I'm not sure it sounded like one, though. ;)

11:18 AM  
Blogger methatiam said...

Now its cool to be a geek!
I suppose I could say I was far ahead of my time, but I think everyone else is just late catching up!

6:05 PM  
Blogger red fish said...

Ginger's right. We had cool figured out fifteen years ago. Why should we change because kids haven't figured out what's really cool yet?

6:21 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

wow that sounds very similar to me... but i always thought i WAS cool. i did just recently get an i-pod though

7:59 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Okay, I want to go on record saying I think you are totally cool, but not in the trendy sense of the word! I think you are cool because you are intelligent, you like to read lots and lots, you are a devoted wife and mother and you are devoted to your faith. AND, I think you are cool because you don't care if you are cool. That is cool in the timeless sense, as in you are who you are, and everyone else can suck it if they don't like it.

I have never cared much at all what other people thought of me, in the general sense. But, I do have many, many, many modern digital/electronic gadgets, and very cool camping gadgets too. And, I know every word to Hollaback Girl, only because of my daughter. Am I cool?

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

I know I've been here before, but now I'm back via Lifenut. Had to comment.

I would say anyone who is reading Blue Like Jazz has to be cool. That's a fabulous read. I think my cool factor has gone down since I stopped teaching. When I worked with high schoolers then I made it my business to know what was "in." But now...well, now I have to read magazines like In Style and People to know what's cool.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... you zay zat you don't care about being zee cool perzon becauze zecretly you vant to be a leetle cool, juzt a leetle?

Vee vill help you wiz zee cool lezzon for zee day. Lezzon One: Repeat after me...'Yo'. Now you try, ya? Zat's right, but wiz zee attitude, ya? Try again...'Yo.' Zee zat? You are now zee cooler perzon becauz-uh you can zay zee 'Yo.'

Now zat you know zee 'Yo' vee vill do anozer. Repeat after me...'word.' Now you try. Very good. Now, you put zee two togezer...'Yo, word.' You try. Eggzelent.

Now, all you need to do iz add zee 'Deluxe Bro Package' to zee Mercury Zable automobile and zen you zay 'Yo, word.' Zee how cool you vill be, ya?

Dr. Seymour Snizzlefoschizzlestein

7:20 AM  
Blogger Diddy-Win said...

Mel, at least your church isn't the flavor of sour milk.... there are those, you know....

7:50 AM  
Blogger elswhere said...

I've seen that church! it's right near my house! I had no idea it was cool-- it looks a little odd and un-church-like, to me. (apologies if anyone reading this goes there-- it just *does*, though.)

I guess I'm a traditionalist about clerical architecture. Who knew?

4:26 PM  

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