I have a list of things that I consider cool and that list starts with Elvis Costello. Elvis Costello fans look good in hats. They can wear suspenders with vintage t-shirts and not come across as total assholes. They drink coffee with long elaborate names and smoke weed on the fire escape of their box-size New York apartments. Elvis Costello fans are smart and witty. I am not a fan, and I desperately want to be.
Being cool is something that I always reach for but fall just short of touching. In elementary school I wanted to be Stephanie Zinone, the leader of The Pink Ladies in Grease 2. Let me just say, if you have not seen Grease 2, you are missing out on a cinematic gem. Stephanie was over her relationship with the leader of the T birds; she wore pants on the first day of school; and she wanted to find her very own Cool Rider.
“If you really want to know
What I want in a guy…
Well, I’m lookin’ for a dream on a mean machine
With hell in his eyes.
I want a devil in skin tight leather,
And he’s gonna be wild as the wind.
And one fine night, I’ll be holdin’ on tight…”
I spent many afternoons pretending I was Stephanie, turning my jacket inside out and singing Cool Rider. It did not make me cool. The problem I discovered with being cool is that there is a casualness to it that I may lack.
I know the most interesting people and they don’t seem to understand just how cool they are. I know a poet. Yep, a real life mother fucking poet. She is smart in a way that amazes me. I want to tinker in her brain to see if I can figure out how she does it. She has the casual coolness that I seek. She isn’t pretentious in the least. If I wrote a book, a book of poetry no less, I would wear a sandwich sign that said, “Ask me about my book.” She is just effortlessly interesting to me; although if asked, I am sure she would disagree.
I know someone who moved their family to Haiti and works for the betterment of others every single day. She has seen things that I cannot even begin to imagine and rocked babies as they die in her arms. The next day she gets back up and goes and tickles the necks of children who have seen way to much suffering in their little lives. She raises her children and loves her husband, and when someone comments on the work she is doing, she gives the glory to God. Again, if this was me, the sandwich board would now read, “Ask me about my book and the amazing work I do in Haiti.” Yet, today this friend woke up, swatted a mosquito, and got busy. She is just effortlessly interesting to me.
I know someone who takes amazing photographs and has three children under the age of six. She is an amazing artist and infinitely artistic. She throws weddings and parties for her friends and children. She works with the homeless and treats them with dignity and grace. Her children will have memories of baking and crafting and will not be afraid of those that are different than them. Also this friend has freckles and I love freckles. If this was me, my sandwich board would now read, “Ask me about my book, the amazing work I do in Haiti, and my photography.” She is just effortlessly interesting to me.
I know a pastor who was part of a music movement. He was even part of a documentary about the hardcore music movement. He loves his wife and children. He boycotted Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving because of the unfair pay and practices. He has seen bands play that I have never heard of and met people that would make Trey stutter and stammer. He was part of a movement. He is good and he does good, but if asked he would probably tell you he was just living his life. I have only met him once in person, but when he bowed his head and asked for a moment of silence for those that weren’t allowed to marry, my heart swelled with gratitude for his bravery and understanding. If this was me, my sandwich board would now read, “Ask me about my book, the amazing work I do in Haiti, my photography, and my part of a musical movement.” I can’t help but find the good pastor effortlessly interesting.
These are just a few people that I find interesting and cool. I could write forever about the mothers who have lost a child, the teachers that give and give while receiving no credit, the social workers who save lives, the doctors and nurses, the lawyers, the friends that help me find the mistakes I’ve made, the single mothers covered in vomit and begging for a break. I know interesting people, people who are effortlessly cool. A few may even be Elvis Costello fans, who knows?