My thirty something friend and colleague attended a wedding recently where most of the other thirty something guests thought they were “ultra cool,” she told me. They weren’t especially friendly and they strutted around the grounds like F. Scott and Zelda might have done back in the day. The bride and groom wanted everything to be “cool,” from the ushers’ suspenders sans jackets to the blues music.
The air at the wedding was thick with nonchalance. Only they weren’t the Fitzgeralds and they weren’t filming The Great Gatsby.
Back in the day, being “cool” was reserved for people who had cool in their souls: The Beatles, Bobby Short, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, JFK and Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, F. Scott and Julia Child. They didn’t have to affect cool. They were cool. We felt cool when we listened to their music, watched them perform, read their books or tasted their crème brulee. Most of us know we knew we weren’t like them, but that didn’t bother us one bit.
Today, everyone wants to be “cool” and many think they are cool. The requirements aren’t as strict either. Mario Batali is a great chef, but is he cool? And what about George Clooney, Joe Scarborough, Jennifer Lopez, Tyra Banks and Gwyenth Paltrow? Tyra may be successful and smart, but she wouldn’t know cool if she stumbled over it on the runway. But don’t tell her that.