I’ve been wracking my brain the past few days in a futile attempt to determine the exact moment when I stopped being cool. 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 that I wasn’t cool anymore? My teenage son told me.
It seems that what is considered cool these days has changed since the days when John Travolta became famous while dancing his way to stardom in ”Saturday Night Fever,” the Rolling Stones led by Mick Jagger were cavorting all over the stage and singing “I can’t get no satisfaction,” and custom vans were the hottest things on the street. When I was a teenager, my van was the coolest thing in the neighborhood. Now when I take it out for a cruise around the block, parents glare at me as I slowly pass by, put a protective arm around their children, and then swiftly hustle them inside.
I still can’t believe that I’ve lost my cool. I try to be cool. I don’t wear suspenders, bib overalls, bow ties, thick glasses, pocket protectors, or knee-high black socks with dress shoes and Bermuda shorts. I’ve even been known to wander into an Abercrombie and Fitch store once in a while to procure the latest in khaki pants and knit polo shirts. I often sport a three-day growth of beard, wear jeans with holes in them, and use words and phrases like “psyche”, “you know”, “your mom-burn”, “spaz”, “awesome”, “may the force be with you”, and “like”, which I heard are popular catch phrases with today’s hip youth.
Some of the vernacular though has changed since I was a teenager. Today, “getting stoned” has something to do with Iranian women, and hard, fist-sized projectiles, and I think “cool cat” involves mischievous felines accidentally getting trapped in refrigerators. My taste in music hasn’t changed much. I still listen to iconic groups like Aerosmith and Bon Jovi which have withstood the test of time. You can’t get any cooler than Steven Tyler, John Bon Jovi, and Richie Sambora, right?
Yesterday, I went through my dresser drawers and closets in the hope that I might just find my cool, buried deep down under my neatly folded Fruit of the Loom, cotton, comfort fit, tighty-whiteys, or hidden way in the back of my armoire under years of dust and cobwebs. 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. My search of the distant past also turned up a light beige, polyester leisure suit with a hot pink silk shirt which had seen years of use amid the rhythmic beat and stunning vocals of the Bee Gees, and the glittering lights of bright and pulsating disco balls. I was, going to put it on, but after a minute of tugging and pulling I realized that the thirty-two waist-sized pants must have shrunk dramatically over the years.
I sat down with my son yesterday, and I 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.
Here are a few things I learned. Any type of dancing is strictly prohibited. Even hand motions, feet tapping, or head movements are taboo. Come on, not dancing! I’m the king of the dance floor at wedding receptions. Whose going to lead the way during the “Chicken Dance”, the “Electric Slide” the “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? Have you seen some of today’s dance moves? I saw a skinny kid with baggy pants in the park the other day doing some kind of break dance. 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 that bee’s nest fell out of a tree and landed on his head.
The list goes on and on, but here’s a few more to get you started. If you own a car more than ten years old, please drop your child off at school a half an hour early in the back parking lot, and watch them open the door and sprint for the school with a speed that could out-run a cheetah. If on the other hand you just recently purchased a brand new Escalade, then feel free to drop your child off in the front of the school as all the buses are pulling in, and don’t be surprised if they hang out with you for five or ten minutes.
When you’re driving with your child 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 them 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.
Never, and I mean never, wear baggy pants, big tee-shirts, white sunglasses perched on your forehead, shoes with untied laces, or sport a pony-tail. If you are required to attend a school function with your child be prepared to have them totally ignore you for the entire evening. At the end of the night as you head for your car, look behind you. Your child will be slowly shuffling along, twenty feet back.
I guess I’ll just have to face the fact that I’ll never be cool again. Maybe tonight I’ll stay in, get a glass of warm milk, wrap myself in my nice warm snuggie, and turn on the oldies radio 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! What the heck. Maybe I will try on that leisure suit one more time.