This post, is for all you rapidly aging parents out there, who once, in the very far and distant past, were considered fairly cool. It’s also for all those young people, who think their parents are: unbelievably old, technologically inept, have one foot in the grave, are out of touch with today’s music and culture, don’t understand the pressures of being young, and have no concept of what it means to be a young adult in today’s world. Oh, I almost forgot – and constantly embarrasses them, in too many ways to count.
I’ve racked my brain over the past few days, in a futile attempt to determine the exact moment when I lost my cool. I can recall a time, not too long ago, when my kids thought I was the greatest man in the world, a powerful superhero with unbelievable powers, and a towering giant, who could protect them from even the most frightening monsters. Until recently, I had always thought I was pretty cool, hip, groovy, and up-to-date on the latest trends in fashion, music, and popular culture. Do you know how I found out I wasn’t cool anymore? My teenage son told me. To be fair to him; he didn’t just come out and say it. He told me that we needed talk. He then said,
“Dad, I love you, and I still think you’re the best, but sometimes you embarrass me in front of my friends. I know you don’t mean it, and you often can’t help yourself, but you’re kind of a big nerd.”
My first thought was – a nerd? Do kids still use that term?” I recalled that “Revenge of the Nerds” movie, with Gilbert, Lewis, Poindexter, Lamar, Wormser, and of course my favorite – Booger. I can’t quite remember, but didn’t those nerds become cool at the end of the movie? I went online, looked up synonyms for nerd, and found some interesting words. I saw: geek, dork, goofball, dweeb, goober, stooge, old fogey, wonk, tech weenie, and buffoon. Buffoon? What the heck? Sorry about that. For a second there, I thought it said, “Baboon.” To be honest; I do have a little more body hair than the average human. I will also admit, I sometimes use gardening shears to trim my chest hair, was once nearly shot when mistaken for a Sasquatch, and had a masseuse, initially mistake me for a plush carpet, before giving me a massage using a dog brush. That shouldn’t exclude me from being cool, right?
It seems that being cool has changed a lot, since John Travolta became famous while dancing his way to stardom in “Saturday Night Fever,” custom vans were the hottest things on the street, and the Rolling Stones led by Mick Jagger were cavorting all over the stage, singing “I can’t get no satisfaction,” Hey wait a minute. Aren’t they still performing? I guess they’re not only aging a lot better than me, but are still a lot cooler.
I still can’t believe I’ve lost my cool. I try to be cool; I really do. I don’t wear suspenders, bib overalls, bow ties, thick glasses, pocket protectors, knee-high black socks with dress shoes and Bermuda shorts, or wear pants, either four inches too short, or pulled up to my chest. I’ve even been known to wander into an Abercrombie and Fitch store once in a while to buy the latest in khaki pants, and knit polo shirts. I often sport a three-day growth of beard, put on jeans with holes in them, wear a ski hat indoors, surf the net, use Twitter and Facebook, and try keep up with, what’s “trending.”
I will admit, I haven’t kept up with the words and phrases today’s youth use. I listened to two teenagers at the mall yesterday. Could someone please tell me the meaning of cray cray, crunk, merked, reach, dip, moss, swag, or wanksta? I did hear the word dope, but it doesn’t mean a husband who forgot his wedding anniversary, or illegal drugs. According to my son, it means cool or awesome. The next time at work, when my boss comes up to me and says, “Patrick – I can’t believe what a dope you are.” I’ll just smile and say, “You too sir.”
Yesterday, I went through my dresser drawers and closets in the hope, I might just find my cool. I figured, it could possibly be buried deep down under my neatly folded Fruit of the Loom, cotton, comfort fit, tighty-whiteys, or hidden way in the back of my closest, under years of dust. I did find a “Coolest Dad in the World” tee-shirt, which my son had given me five years ago for Father’s Day. I guess, I’ve narrowed the loss of my cool down to somewhere in the last half-decade.
I sat down with my son last night, and learned some interesting things. I found out that parents, no matter how hard we try, will most likely never be cool again. The best we can possibly hope for, is to not embarrass our children too much. It appears that there are literally thousands of things that parents, and especially fathers do that are not only, not cool, but cause their children untold embarrassment in front of their peers. I didn’t know this, but any type of dancing is strictly prohibited. Even hand motions, feet tapping, or head movements are taboo. My first thought in hearing this was,
“Come on – not dancing! I’m the king of the dance floor at wedding receptions. Who’s going to lead the way during the Chicken Dance, Electric Slide, Macarena, and the Twist? I love the Twist. Give me a few beers, slippery-soled shoes, and a wooden dance floor, and I have moves that would put Chubby Checkers to shame.”
My son said to me, “Dad, don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re spasmodic.” Spasmodic? How am I, not, supposed to take that the wrong way? Have you seen some of today’s dance moves? I saw a skinny kid with baggy pants in the park the other day, doing something my son calls, “free-styling.” He was jumping all over the place, rolling around on the ground, spinning like a top, and doing back flips. He looked just like my cousin, Earl, that time we were in the woods, and a bee’s nest fell out of a tree and landed on his head.
I have a few more things parents need to know. If you have a beater car, be sure you drop your kid a few blocks from school. If you don’t know what it is; a beater car is at least twenty years old, is shaped like a box, doesn’t have hubcaps, the colors of the doors don’t match the rest of the car, and black smoke is always pouring out of the tailpipe. Oh yeah; I have one myself. If you want it, you can have it for…. Let’s see – free! The radio doesn’t work, it doesn’t have air conditioning, and the breaks are kind of non-functional. On the bright side; you could be famous. The decades old mystery surrounding the location of Jimmy Hoffa’s body has finally been solved. He’s in the trunk of my car!
Here’s a few other things to avoid. When you’re driving with your teenager, don’t bob your head, up and down and sing to the hard-driving sounds of Bruce Springsteen’s, “Born to Run” album. For some reason, this drives kids nuts. Unless you’re a mother and your child is leaving for military boot camp; do not kiss, hug, put your hand on their shoulder, ruffle their hair, or touch them in any way. If you’re required to attend a school function with your teenager, be prepared to have them totally ignore you for the entire evening.
Maybe my son is right, and I’ll never be cool again. Tonight, I think I’ll stay in, get a glass of warm milk, put on my nice, warm, flannel pajamas, turn on the radio, and listen to my favorite oldies station. I still have my memories, and no matter what my son says; I know I was once cool. Hmmmm…… That tune sounds familiar. Is that ABBA’s “Dancing Queen?” That song is soooo……..cool. I think I’ll pull my old leisure suit out of the closet, and see if it still fits.