Cool it on being cool

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.

I’m glad I’m not “cool.” I’d rather be calm and collected.

3 Responses to “Cool it on being cool”

  1. Duchesse says:

    I have been thinking about this. Anthony Bourdain is deeply cool, Batali, only glimmers of it. Gwyneth: not cool, but Vanessa Paradis, yes (and not by way of her partner). Jackie O. was the epitome of chic but not cool; Juliette Greco was cool. However, Jackie’s friends and family might have considered her cool, because the label is conferred by the milieu.

    There are loads of really cool people out there who will never be in People.

    As my deeply cool ex BF John always said, if you are a big deal, you don’t have to let people know.

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  2. Duchesse says:

    I’ve always said there was only one deeply hip person, and that was Thelonious Monk, so everyone else should just get over themselves.

    Cool is in the eye (or mind) of the beholder. I would not call Grace Kelly cool, but she was a “cool blonde”, which is very different from the quality of cool. The word for the strutting wedding guest is poser, and for the hosts, pretentious.

    If you try to make something cool, it cannot be.

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  3. Sherrie Mathieson says:

    Remember the song by Oscar Brown, Jr, “But I was cool”? Always put a smile on my face …

    I had quite a time coming up with the name “Forever Cool” for my first book. Many with whom I consulted for their thoughts on the word “cool”, said it was out-of-date. I’m glad I didn’t listen.
    I decided that they weren’t cool enough to know that the concept of cool is a classic.

    You know “cool” when you see it.

    “Awesome” though–doesn’t cut it for me.
    Best,
    Sherrie

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