First, you have to know what it means to be cool. I’m not ugly. I don’t dress poorly – most of the time. I usually know things about pop culture and sometimes even real culture (although not so much), and I definitely have a sense of humor. To understand what I mean by cool, I’ll have to share with you the moment in my life in which I realized it myself.
I was on a bus going on some church trip or another. My friend Mark sat in front of me. My brother was doing his Forrest Gump impression in the parking lot – not the voice – the run, to which my sisters and I would stand and yell, “Run, Forrest, run!” in Jenny’s southern twang from the movie. Mark chuckled along and then turned to me and said with a sad, condescending sort of fondness, “You Nickersons. There’s not a cool one in the bunch is there?”
In that moment, I totally got what cool is. And I’m so not. I’m never aloof. If I try the aloof thing, it’s obvious to everyone that I’m either very upset about something and introverting in order to protect myself or else I’m – you know – trying out the aloof thing. I’m a ham, especially when I’m nervous, which as we all know is a death combination to any attempt at coolness. I get upset easy, cry at commercials, freak out over the little things, worry what everyone thinks about me, all the time, worry about whether or not I’m thinking rightly about everyone else. It’s really exhausting to be uncool. But I trudge on. Analyzing and re-analyzing life every thirty minutes or so, stumbling upon the secret to it every 15, announcing my age, my financial situation, my dreams, my emotions, and whether or not I have to pee, to everyone and anyone, anywhere, all the time, who will listen. It’s so uncool.
My husband on the other hand, is totally cool. The real thing. Actual, I-was-homecoming-king, scored a touchdown on the starting kick-off, acted bored at school but got really decent grades anyway, rarely-get-upset-by-the -little-things, never start a joke I can’t finish – cool. I’m not sure if he didn’t really know me when he chose me, or if I had other qualities compensating for the lack of cool. I suppose it’s possible that these cool people actually like having a little awkward exuberance around them now and then. Or maybe – I mean, this is just a theory here – maybe none of us are really all that cool.
This is a picture of my middle son, Drew. He’s not cool either, and I so love that. Once you discover you’re uncool, you gotta just embrace it. If you’ve never run like Forrest Gump, yelled like Jenny, posed on the lap of a statue of Ronald McDonald, started a joke you seriously could not finish but kept talking anyway in the hopes that you would stumble upon it eventually – well then, you’ll just have to take my word for it.