My whole life, I have wanted to be cool.
I tried my hardest to pretend I didn’t. I was aggressively anti-cool. I pretended my haircut was an ironic choice, rather than just a terrible, shitty haircut. I wanted clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch, but I wore men’s XXL t-shirts from K-Mart, because A & F didn’t sell women’s clothes in my size (not that my size was men’s XXL, either). I wanted to be on the homecoming court, despite my lack of a homecoming dress, or homecoming tickets, or, you know, a homecoming date.
And I knew it wasn’t cool to want to be cool. But I still wanted it. In secret.
Over time, the definition of cool changed, but I still wasn’t it. In high school, it was the clothes, and the car, and the parties. In college, I secretly pined to be invited to a sorority, despite my steadfast refusal to attend any rush events or go within 1000 yards of any the sorority dorm. I wanted to be so outsider edgy cool that they would pursue me, like I would be some major get. Surprisingly, this strategy did not work at all, although I did manage to finagle my way into several honorary fraternities, so I have a lifelong network of nerds that were really into English and marching band.
In grad school, it was cool to hate everything that was cool. You would only admit to liking Britney Spears ironically. Your favorite author absolutely could not be Stephen King. Your favorite movie had to be in black and white, and a foreign language. I proudly displayed my collection of Elvis Costello CDs while hiding my vast cache of Smashmouth and KC and the Sunshine Band retrospectives, only admitting to my abiding love of Neil Diamond while absolutely annihilated in a friend’s living room once. (I made everyone listen to “Soolaimon/Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” on Hot August Night and kept loudly announcing to everyone that “this is where Neil really starts rocking out!”) Now, as a mom, I am supposed to be into yoga, and farm fresh meals for my kids and wooden, not electronic, toys and all organic everything.
And you know what? I’m over it. I’m uncool, and I’m proud.
I enjoy playing games on my phone. I love the song “Barbie Girl.” My favorite movie is “Clue.” The other day, an episode of Jessie made me cry. My clothes all come from Target and Old Navy. I don’t like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I don’t understand the popularity of kale and I refuse to figure it out.
It’s okay to fall in love with every one hit wonder. It’s all right to still know every word to Skee-lo’s “I Wish.” It’s even better to teach them to your kids, because kids rapping are badass. It’s fine that you don’t like Akira Kurosawa.
I am never going to be cool. And I’m done trying to fake my way into it. Although I think Ben is getting tired of me asking him to take me to homecoming.