|This essay was originally written in 1998 and sent to the Little Tin Frog mailing list, and then it resided on the Little Tin Frog website for a couple of years. Here it is again.|
|How To Be Cool
An Essay By Logan Whitehurst
So--you want to be cool. And maybe, just maybe (and this is one of those little "maybes" that the cool character says, almost inaudibly, then pauses for a very, very long time before shaking his head and going, "Nahhhh") ...nahhhh. I can't help you. Only you can help you. And I'm here to help you help yourself--because God helps those who help themselves and I figure if you've got me AND God on your side, how can you lose? Then again, God might not exist, and then where would you be? You'd still have me, that's where. And you'd be cool.
What is cool? Let's break it down:
1. Cool is having a killer pickup line--one so suave, so sophisticated, so irresistable it's frightening. Try these while raising one eyebrow and smiling out of the corner of your mouth. Look around a lot, but always look at the potential date enough so that he/she knows you mean business. Go to the store. Say to the girl/guy behind the counter, "Is this the checkout counter? 'Cause I'm checking you out!" Go to a fast food place. Say, "Is this the pickup window? 'Cause I'm picking you up!" This may not be appropriate in libraries or hospitals, but you have to go with your instinct. I mean, after all, you got to be cool.
2. Cool is not doing what your parents want you to do. This can be blatant or subliminal--just as long as they think you're not doing what they want, you're cool. Disregard for parental authority has been cool since James Dean. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air helped some, too. Now you, too, can further this institution, and it's easier than you may think. When your parents say, "Be home by ten," just say, "Be tome by hen." If they say, "Eat your soup," you say, "Seat your oup." See, it's all a word game. They think you have no respect for them, and you get to have a little laugh at all the silly words you make up. Just like James Dean.
3. Cool is looking like someone cool. This is not as circular as it sounds. Go ahead. Pick someone that you think is cool, preferably someone that many other people also think is cool. Dress like them in every way. Change your hair, your eye color. Change your teeth, your social security number, your address, age, weight, height, grade point average, and telephone number. You'll be guaranteed to make that cool first impression, and you can ride on that for a long time. This also works for fictional characters like the Power Rangers and Scooby Doo, though not quite as easily since they are much smaller than people in real life, and they are flat.
4. Cool is having a nickname that everybody knows but nobody is really sure how you got it. Like a guy named "Stubs" who still has all his fingers. It's cool to let people in on the nickname, too. Say, "My name is (your name), but my firends call me (enigmatic nickname)." Here's an example: "My name is Louis, but my friends call me Dr. Chunks." Refer to yourself in the third person sometimes, too.
5. Cool is being able to quote Shakespeare. Imagine being on a street corner or in line at a roller coaster and just out of nowhere some guy starts bustin' out all like, "'Twas brillig, and the slithey toves did gyre and gimbel in the wabe; all mimsy were the borogoves, and the momeraths outgrabe!" People would be all, "What a loser!" Then you be all, "With love's light wings did I o'erperch these walls!" Then the first guy be all mewling and puking in the nurse's arms and people be thinking you be cool. Keats and Dickenson be cool, too, and come to think of it, Lewis Carroll be not that uncool hisself. Power to the Alice.
6. Cool is when you got some mutha at the end of your piece and his chick's got a bead on your badass afro and she's all screaming but you keep your head and start all shouting, "What's Fonzie like? What's Fonzie like?" And she's all, "He's cool." That's right. Fonzie is cool. Make references to Fonzie a lot. It is a universal given truth that Fonzie is cool, and you can experience coolness by association.
7. Cool is having a cool job. Being a dental assistant isn't as cool as being an archaeologist. Being a farm boy isn't as cool as being a smuggler. Basically, it's cool to have a job that other people always wanted but couldn't get. Like being God. That's the coolest job. Lots of perks, looks great on a resume, and you get the seventh day off. I would settle for working in a record store or a coffee shop, though. Those are cool places to work because you get free music and coffee, which brings me to point eight...
8. Cool is espresso drinks ordered well. If you go to Starbucks and say, "What's a latte? Does it have coffee in it?" you're not cool. Don't go to Starbucks. Corporate coffee isn't coffee; it's profit, and you can tell by the size of their mochas. They're really small. If you go to a LOCAL coffee house and say, "What's a mocha? Is that like mocha java ice cream flavored?" then you're halfway there. Go to the counter and say, "I'd like a double mocha with whip for here." That's what I say, so add your own twist so as not to cramp my style, but that's the jist of it. One sentence; leave no unasked question unanswered. "Single decaf latte with soy milk, no whip, to go." Voila. Or maybe just "Large house coffee for here." Then they give you a cup and you can impress the girls/guys behind the counter with how well you pour coffee. Practice at home. Don't screw up. If you don't like coffee, you can still order it--just don't drink it. Pour it down the bathroom sink and play it off legit.
9. Cool is being prepared for any situation. If zombies overrun the city and the buildings are falling down and there's a tornado headed for the orphanage, you'll be ready. That's cool.
10. Cool is being able to parallel park the first time.
11. Cool is being in a band. Music is just another universal cool, like Fonzie. If you can be in a band long enough to get popular and still hold a respectable smuggling job and have friends then you're cool. Drums are really cool. If you can play the drums really well, you're cool. Bass is cool. Guitar is probably recognized as the coolest instrument, but I think it's the hammered dulcimer that's the bomb-ass. If you can rock out on the hammered dulcimer, I've got some rock-god status for your ever-lovin' eye.
Now, here's a scene demonstrating how cool you can be in real life, remembering to apply the eleven tenets of coolness:
(coffee shop, evening. A bunch of wanna-be cool people are sitting around debating the existence of true coolness. The door opens, and in you stride, wearing a long, ornate coat and a powdered wig.)
(giving thumb's-up) 'Ehhhhhhh!
Hi, Dr. Chunks!
(approaching girl/guy at counter) Hey, give me a triple decaf nonfat chai latte, no whip, for here. (raising eyebrow) By the way, is this the pickup counter? 'Cause I'm picking you up!
(looking intrigued by your suaveness) Coming right up! Did I just see you parallel parking outside?
First try, baby! What light through yonder window breaks?
What's with the coat and wig?
I'm Thomas Jefferson, coolest Declaration of Independence author/president/inventor in town. I invented the cotton gin and the phonograph and the General Theory of Relativiy and gravity. Word to the Fonzie.
I couldn't help but notice the ease with which you ordered your espresso beverage just then.
That's because I work at a LOCAL coffee house across town on days when I'm not God. My parents don't know I'm out right now. Fonzie's cool. (nods of approval from the wanna-bes)
What did you tell your folks?
Oh, I just said, "Did you hew your domework? Did you rean your cloom? Did you deed the fog?" Then I split. Before I came here, though, I had to go to my popular band's practice space and pick up my hammered dulcimer.
Here's your latte.
Excuse me for a moment. (go to bathroom and pour latte down the sink) I'm back--that was a killer latte. I couldn't stop drinking it even as I was using the toilet. (wink to knowing patrons) Fonzie's the man.
(bursting in through front door) Holy crap, everyone! There's a hurricane a-coming and the oranges ain't been a-harvested yet! Save the children!
Dr. Chunks is ready.
God damn you're cool.
Finale of Scene
See how easy it is? I think it was all summed up by that last line, spoken by a girl/guy in bewildered awe of your blinding coolness: "God damn you're cool." So true, so true. Oh yes, I almost forgot the most important thing you must do to be cool: don't do what anybody tells you to do. If you can do that, you'll be the coolest. You can do that, can't you?
Logan (but my friends call me Magic Chef)