Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Real Essence of Cool

When I was a lad I wanted to be cool. Don't we all long to be cool when young? Of course to be cool means avoiding those things which are uncool.

One of the things that were decidedly uncool at that time were rubbers. Now I know in the popular vocabulary "rubbers" has another meaning and I am not talking about those kind. I am talking about the ones you slipped over your feet and nowhere else. Actually you pulled them over your shoes, sort of sox for the outside.

All the ones I saw then were black and shiny. They were made of a rubbery material, the same stuff boots were often constructed from. They were waterproof, which was the whole purpose. When it rained I would hear my mother yell, "Put your rubbers on so you don't catch a cold!"

That was the last thing I intended to do. No way I wanted to be caught, even caught dead, wearing rubbers. I would try to slip out of the house without them, but sometimes my mom was hovering about me and I had no choice but stretch those ugly black shells over my shoes. Once outside I would look for a place to ditch them where I could retrieve them after school.

It was just as bad come the winter snows, only then it was galoshes, by golly gosh! These were
exponentially more uncool than even rubbers. They were black too and they fastened up the front by snapping closed these metal tabs. If you are unfamiliar with these grotesques, they were what the Old Man wore shoveling snow in "Home Alone", only he didn't snap his up. He let them flop about.

I tried my level best to avoid clamping those on my feet as well. They just weren't cool.

No, it was much more cool to sit in class all morning with wet feet and cold soggy sox, risking a chill and ruined shoes.

Another thing to be avoided as all costs, when I was a boy, was the book bog. They existed. My misguided parents even gave me such an object for my birthday one year. Better to gift such an atrousity in June in time for the next school year than at Christmas halfway through. It was a very fine

book bag, as such things went. It was some sort of faux leather, a little too light perhaps, with three inner-departments and a flap that had a little twist knob through a slot to hold it closed. It had a pouch on front for pencils and other small tools of the young pupil trade, like compasses and triangles and erasers.

At least it wasn't embroidered with lassos spelling out Roy Rogers.

It was my intent that it should never see the light of day. It would have been humiliating enough in elementary school, I couldn't imagine the slings and arrows I would have suffered lugging that piece of luggage to Junior High.

No, it wasn't cool. Being cool was carrying your books, hooked by you hand and supported by your

lower forearm and pressed against your hip. This wasn't too bad coming home from grade school, especially since I lived right across the street from East Ward. It was somewhat different carrying the load from Downingtown Junior High to which I walked a mile to and from. Not only was there the hike, but the books had grown thicker and heavier and the teachers, showing little mercy to coolness, gave more homework.

This was not easy. Some books tended to be slippery and tried sliding away from the stack as you walked. Sometimes an edge cut into the flesh of your forearm, which grew more and more uncomfortable as you journeyed along. Occasionally you might try switching the load from your right arm to your left, but when balancing several tomes and a notebook it was easy to lose your grip. There is little of coolness it picking up your fallen schoolbooks and even less if you are chasing papers down the street that have fallen from between their pages. And what if that expensive History book should land in a mud puddle and your parents have to pay to replace it. Yike!

The young females of our species would cradle their books in their arms pressed against their chests. This was a more effective and more controlling way to handle a load of educational volumes. Although this is a perfectly acceptable way for a running back to secure the football, there was no way a "cool" dude was going to carry his books like a girl.

Nope, better to struggle home and then stand, after dropping the stuff on the table, with a sore wrist, numb fingers and a tinkling arm.

Now today when I see school children they are wearing back packs. It apparently is not uncool to do so, because every single one seem to indulge in this practice. Even outside of school you see them ambling along with backpacks on to carry their video games to friends houses or whatever.

I wonder why we didn't think of that when I was a boy? I was in the Boy Scouts and all we Boy
Scouts possessed backpack, or knapsacks as we called them then. Why didn't we strap them on to bear our books about? Think of the advantage, our hands would even be free to throw the random snowball or pull a girl's hair. Still, now that I remember, being a Boy Scout wasn't considered all that cool back in my childhood years either. Maybe it was the short pants and tasseled knee socks, but definitely not cool.

Of course, these examples are only a couple of the many no-no's if you wished to look cool. However, it didn't make a hill of beans if you avoided all the pitfalls of uncool paraphernalia or how much you dressed yourself up in hip (as we said once upon a time) couture and sunglasses, with cigarettes rolled in your T-shirt sleeve with one a-dangle from your snarling lips, you somehow never quite made it into that cool crowd you so envied and hungered for acceptance from.

You know, those guys sniffling from the cold they got not wearing their rubbers (and sometimes things they got from not wearing those other kind of rubbers either), with the sprained wrist from toting books while eschewing book bags and with the infection in their arm from carving their girlfriends name down its length with a
rusty penknife. Somehow you just couldn't be as cool as those cool guys.

This is probably because you lacked the true essence of Cool, that four-letter synonym, D-U-M-B, dumb!

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