Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Being Cool is Overrated

I'll admit it--sometimes I'm driving kind of fast, windows rolled down, blasting Mozart's 40th Symphony, feeling like I'm pretty cool. Then I see a copper and snap out of it. No, not really cool. But actually I'm very thankful for the willingness to be uncool.

In fact, my life pretty much depends on me knowing that I am not hip, slick, and "all together." Sometimes I bemoan being a basket-case, but then I remember the alternative. That would be, for me, running amok in a state of delusional grandeur (picture Homer Simpson in the "Land of Chocolate"). There are lots of people who can pull it off, who can handle life well, or at least look like it. I kind of feel sorry for them.

I can recall when all this began, this knowledge of "cool," for me. I was in seventh grade, in a new school where I met my new best friend, Jade. Up til that point I had been listening to Liza Minnelli and the Carpenters, wearing plaid polyester pants, and not plucking my eyebrows. My world was about to go through a major transformation.

Jade taught me about Levi's, Alice Cooper, and the Columbia Record Club. With the assistance of that membership, it didn't take long to make up for lost time. Soon I was sewing more denim into the bell-bottoms of my dragging-on-the-floor jeans, hanging out my second-story bedroom window smoking Marlboros, making "suicide" from my parents' liquor cabinet, lying on the floor of my room, head jammed between two speakers cranking Ted Nugent, carving boys' names into my arms, and you know, all that cool stuff.

I also learned how to lie to my parents, which was necessary to keeping up all my cool activities. I would sneakily wipe off my eye makeup before I went home from school, and say I was going to "Junior High-Jinx" at the YMCA, when we would really be out prowling the neighborhood smoking...etc. I also learned how to steal, and was proud of how good I was at it. Before long I began having boyfriends, which made me feel even more supernatural. I was on top of the world. I decided at this time that getting good grades was for nerds and although I had to work at it at first, I got the hang of acting, and becoming, really dumb.

Well, this could be a really long story but suffice it to say: being cool never got my anything but trouble. And the trouble was not the glamorous affair I had romantically envisioned. In the end, it's like a movie that you're acting in for yourself. Nobody else cares. For a while other "cool" people want to hang out with you if you're being properly "cool." But if you decide to do something they don't approve of, or if they get bored with you...well then.

But the real reason I'm glad I'm not cool is that I had to fall apart. I had to do this to begin my life again. But then, even after that, I had to come to the end of myself. I had to find what I was searching for, and sometimes avoiding, my whole life. My pastor said on Sunday, and I've heard it said before, "There is a God and you're not Him." I knew he was going to say it. I say it to myself a lot.

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