Wish I could say I was one of them.
Do you remember the really cool kids from high school?
In my world, they were so cool they even spelled it Kool, as in the brand of cigarettes they carried around in the rolled-up sleeves of their t-shirts (unless, of course, they smoked Pall Mall, Chesterfield, Old Gold’s, or Camels). Those – weeds as they were called back then – and an occasional beer were the drugs of choice for the cool kids in the 1950s. Twenty five cents a pack vs. about $7.00 these days. The kids from better-off families had lighters, heavy silver lighters you had to hand feed with fuel. The kids from poor families just looked around for matches and could often be seen catching a light off a friend’s cigarette.
In four years of high school I never heard the word marijuana mentioned even once. For that matter, I didn’t hear it during four years of college.
What defined a cool kid? They were all guys. There were no cool girls in the ‘50s. How can you be cool when you wear saddle shoes and skirts below your knees?
Guys who were cool were all car guys. They had fast rides. They thought kids with bicycles were something to sneer at. The cool guys' cars went through a lot of tires. That happens when every time you start up from a light or stop sign is a moment to celebrate by peeling out. There were a lot of tire marks on the streets of my New Jersey hometown. Probably still are.
You could also identify a cool car by the fact it had no muffler. It made more noise than a 747 taxiing down the main runway of Newark Airport. When two cool cars got side-by-side and accelerated the noise was terrifying.
The cool guys mostly (maybe all) had haircuts that were called a DA. That’s a family-friendly term for duck’s a–. This blog is intended for family consumption, so you’ll have to fill out the rest of the meaning of DA.
Something else about cool guys was that they never dated girls who wore glasses. In today’s vernacular and to make a bad pun, that was not a good look. A long ago philosopher put it perfectly when he said, Guys never make passes at girls who wear glasses. Saddle shoes and glasses were the kiss of death and pretty much eliminated the possibility there was a cool guy waiting for you out there. You can only imagine the friction this caused in families that had a cool son with a loud car and a glasses-wearing daughter who was a good student. And, I forgot to mention that high school girls are always smarter than high school guys. Hopefully with the help of good counseling, those families have worked through their issues by now.
Confession time.... I smoked in high school and way, way past high school. But I was far from a cool kid. I’d hide a Pall Mall in my wallet, go off to school, sit on it all day, then light up when school was out. Flat as could be, but still very smokeable. That was the extent of my coolness. I got my first car as a sophomore in college. It had a perfect muffler. Purred like a kitten. It was a huge, black four-door sedan that looked more like a funeral home vehicle than a cool kid car.
Today, I have redefined the word cool to fit my lifestyle. I quit smoking 37 years ago at the behest of my two children. I have been married for a long time to someone who wears glasses. I drink really cheap wine. We drive two Fords. We live in a semi-rural setting adjacent to several lovely suburbs. By any reasonable measure, I am a cool adult, albeit my coolness is slowing down now that I’m 83. I’m working hard to be the coolest guy ever, or at least the coolest guy to ever reach 100.
At the moment – just so you know – I’m considering going back to high school for an advanced degree. Is that a great idea or what? I think I’d fit right in.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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