Wednesday, May 14, 2014

why i may never be cool

this photo makes me look cooler than i am in real life

You only get so many chances to be cool in life.

In 1993, I was seventeen years old, and I wanted a tattoo. But I couldn't decide between a dolphin or the earth (it was the early 90s), and I remained frozen in my indecision and tattooless. Missed opportunity #1.

In the midst of lovesick restlessness, I dyed my hair with pink hghlights in mid-2000. I was wickedly cool and I met all kinds of counter-culture Los Angelinos for about two months. Then Mr. Fantastic and I thrillingly admitted our love for one another on a late-night phone call. He is what's known as "square and conservative" style-wise, so I quickly went platinum before he flew in for our first date. I feared rejection too much to risk staying pink (and since he thought the platinum was a little freaky, I was right.) Missed opportunity #2.

But we fell madly in love, so I'm going to let that one go.

On our honeymoon I tried to talk him into a fun night at the tattoo parlor. He was pretty sure he would lose his job at the church if he came back all tatted up, so we didn't do it. (He was probably right, but how ridiculously cool would that have been- to be fired from a church for a tattoo?) Missed opportunity #3.

Between Boy 1 and Boy 2 (which means a few short months in the year 2004) I decided to get my nose pierced, because I needed to shake off the provincial label of "new mom". But when I discovered I was pregnant, I was so overwhelmed I ditched the idea. I decided I needed counseling and a nap before I took a day off from nursing babies to go to the body piercing shop. Missed opportunity #4.

But now everyone has pink hair. Everyone has a tattoo. Nose piercings are as common as PBJs in the school lunch boxes of America.

Last week my mom texted me to tell me about the Harley club she's joining. So basically, my mom is now cooler than I am.

What's left, really? I can't think of a single way to break the mold and rebel against the mainstream. In fact, when I look around me at the colorful skin of the people of Austin, it's possible that not bearing a tattoo is so counter-cultural that my clean skin is the weirdest thing about me.

I blame the internet for ruining coolness, really.

I keep telling all my friends who have beautiful, original tattoos to be very careful. Do not post a picture of it online. Don't let the tattoo artist pin your original artwork on his Pinterest boards. Because if he does, and some famous blogger copies it and then writes a post about her newest ink love, you will show up at a family reunion and find out that Aunt Mabel has the exact same tattoo- and so does her whole quilting circle- and then what will you do?

Dear reader, should you have broken the cool code and found some new way to be original and different, you are holding the holy grail. You are like Frodo, carrying the ring of great power. Keep it secret, keep it safe. Don't throw it into the fire of internet flame and lose your edge. Don't miss your chance to be cool.

For those of us who fear never finding the secret sweet spot of coolness, maybe there is hope after all.

Here's my plan: Jesus. I don't know anyone who is more counter cultural than He is. Consider the following:

Go ahead, just try to find a better event planner than Jesus. He made wine out of water and he created feasts from one tiny lunch. He had jokes about logs in your eye and turned funerals into resurrection parties.

Jesus also went against the grain of society's trappings. "Hey, if someone slaps you, let them slap you again." "Want to be awesome? Be the last, least, and lowest." He worked on the Sabbath. He ate with the outcasts, loved the unloveable, and was arrested for committing no crime whatsoever. Our Lord was immeasurably cool.

He was the life of the party and broke all the rules that were unfair and unnecessary. Then He fulfilled all those rules and redefined them into awesomeness. You have to be the epitome of cool to pull off that kind of thing.

So, be cool, like Jesus. Maybe I should get that tattooed on my forearm, calf, or collarbone. If I do, I'm not telling anyone, though. Because I'm cool like that.

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