What is Cool?
LEXINGTON, KY -- I saw a "cool" young man today. He strolled -- or I should say waddled -- by my friend's house as we sat upon his porch. The teenager's pants were as low as low can get. His undershorts were up around his waist, but his jeans were cinched just beneath the fly of his boxer shorts. Right about where the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone.His hair in a short crew cut lay like a pelt on top of his head and it looked like his head had been shaved and oiled from there down. He couldn't take a full step, so he just sort of waddled from side to side like a duck. Perhaps a ringneck mallard. He had his jib stuck out aggressively and his shark-dead eyes suggested he was b-a-d. He was just so cool we could barely stand to gaze upon his sartorial splendor as his untied shoelaces subtly wiggled as he waggled. My friend and I are both about 60, and as we reminisced we were appalled to remember the days when we thought we were cool. Shoes with two inch soles and metal taps that sometimes made sparks fly when we passed a pretty girl.Ducktail haircuts like Elvis and James Dean wore. Cigarette packs rolled in our T-shirt sleeve so that the brand showed through. Lucky Strikes were in and crew cuts were out. We were so cool the world was a drag. If we had a haircut like this kid someone would surely remark, "Hey dude! Looks like yo mama put a bowl on your head and cut your hair!" We wouldn't of been caught dead like that.But here was a kid showing us just how cool a bowlcut could be. Man, was we unclear on the concept. If they're doing it in Kentucky, it's got to be happening everywhere. We have been chastised by the status quo. Yet as we looked him over carefully, we began to speculate. This kid could be very vulnerable. We shed long hair because, in a fistfight, a guy could wrap your hair in his hand and get a big advantage. In those days -- before Uzis and Saturday night specials -- we did a bit of toe to toe fighting. Though our minds were more on the advent of mini-skirts than major violence to one another.It was pretty obvious that if this kid joined in fisticuffs, all his opponent would need to do is jerk his pants down with one little tug. The kid would be at his mercy -- what with his ankles tied together by his waistband and his feet tangled in a maze of pants legs. God forbid with his anti-social demeanor he would ever need to outrun a crewcut cop. We remembered times we had gotten away through backyards as angry dogs snapped at our thick soles. This kid couldn't outrun a turtle. Much less a duck or pig.So he was born dead as an outlaw. Or even as a worthy opponent. We began to suspect he even failed as a role model. In our eyes, Marlon Brando made him look like Butthead.As we watched him waddle out of sight, we began to seriously question the authenticity of his coolness. The image he left in his wake was somehow flawed.Myself, I could never quite pin down what or he represented. I know he wasn't intentionally imitating a duck -- he was way too cool for that. He lost me, but I would put him somewhere between Humphrey Bogart and Ronald McDonald.