I have never been cool.
Trust me when I say it was never for a lack of trying.
At various stages in my life, I worked so hard on feigning coolness that I'm surprised I didn't have an aneurysm. How many hours were spent trying on a variety of guises to find one that fit, I'll never know. From preppy jock to disaffected loner, I probably tried on more "costumes" than Mariah Carey in concert on Halloween night at The Flamingo.
I'm not going to be too harsh on myself. I've come to realize that much of this past posturing was due to the vagaries of youth, insecurity and a desperate need for acceptance.
Sounds so fucking emo, doesn't it?
These days, I simply don't care enough to give a shit about my relative coolness. I've become a firm believer that the pretense of cool is a facade best left to others. Acceptance of this fact has been very liberating.
I was thinking about this on Saturday night while with some friends at one of NYC's hippest nightspots. As I casually observed the 20-something faux hipster in skinny jeans with a pierced eyelid and dust bunny on his chin, and the slinky anorexic Russian model dancing on the table in her pajamas, I suddenly realized that I was the coolest guy in the room.
Then I caught the eye of a Puerto Rican busboy staring at me with a look of disdain, obviously wondering what kind of douchebag loser pays $22 for a watered-down cocktail.
Like they say, perspective is a bitch.
As I've gotten older, I've come to believe that the only truly cool people left are those who go out of their way to help others, those who are always respectful of differing opinions, and those who never take themselves too seriously. At the end of the day, it's always best to be honest and true to yourself.
Unless, of course, you're an asshole.
In all seriousness, one thing I've learned in my short stint as a father, it's that parenting and coolness should be diametrically opposed. Cool is just simply not a legitimate child-rearing paradigm. Just as I would never want to be considered the Peanut's best friend, I would also never want to be known as "the cool dad."
Kids need love and support and a million other things that have nothing to do with being cool. Like most parents, I'm just trying to raise my daughter to be a smart, polite, sensitive, caring person with her own identity.
At the same time, I realize that being a kid these days is tough. As parents, we're all guilty of taking parenting so seriously that we've removed the elements of fun that should be an important part of every kid's childhood. We worry so much about food, vaccines, schools, sleep, homework, after-school activities---is it any wonder that kids are so stressed out these days? Let's maybe cut them a little slack.
Let's also not forget that being silly, stupid and uncool with one's kid is possibly the most fun ever.
The Peanut and I spend a lot of time together simply being goofy. We hold hands and skip down the street while singing absurdly stupid songs that we've made up. We go to street fairs, eat candy apples and get our faces painted as lions. If we're walking outside and hear some music, we'll have a silly dance contest. And sometimes, we'll put on these absurd costumes just to go to the grocery store for a carton of milk.
My point is that whether you're young or old, single or married, childless or not---there's one important thing that you should always try to remember.
Cool is for suckers.