February 22, 2008

Cool Feelings

Once I was having dinner with a family. They had two little boys who were just a couple years apart. They chatted on all through the meal about their soccer teams and how they really loved to play. Afterwards, I got to talking with their mother about it. She told me that her younger son was pretty good. He could follow the game and could keep up pretty well. However, her older son, the one with the sunnier disposition, loved soccer for one reason: it made him look cool. He just loves to win, she said, whether it has to do with his own athletic contribution or not. She said she caught him practicing in the backyard one day. He would wind up and kick the ball and then throw his hands in the air, as if it was the winning goal. Then, and this was my favorite part, he would start his victory dance. He would position himself, for instance, in a “muscle man” pose, and then look back at his shadow to see what he looked like. Then, he would nod his head and say “Yeah, that’s cool.”

It reminded me of that Cosby episode where Cliff tries to teach Theo how to play football. When they get home, Cliff explains, and playfully mimics how Theo has mastered the art of the victory dance, but not much else. But Theo is excited anyway, because he’s already, in himself, retained the level of cool that he thinks he will exude as the star player on the high school football team. Besides, feeling cool is the only way to really become “cool,” right? And as long as we don’t really care what anyone else really thinks anyway, then “cool” is really just a state of being that we create for ourselves. We’ve all got these little things we do to make us feel “cool,” whether it be sports or something else. Mine certainly don’t include sports! But, I will list them for you, just the same.

I feel cool when . . .

  • I stay up late and watch David Letterman or Jay Leno.

There is just something about these late night talk shows that makes me feel cool, and I’m not really sure why. I remember asking DH once why the shows would come on so late if they are prerecorded anyway. He said that it was to give people something to watch after they’ve spent the night out. Out at a party, out to dinner, out on the town. That’s what cool people do. And even though most times when I’ve watched the show, it’s been because we’re having a pajama night, I still feel absolutely cool. Maybe it’s because I get all the jokes now (whereas I didn’t always when I was younger) or because it’s filmed in New York (or Los Angeles). But for that hour, I feel like I’m tuning in to something that makes me “cool.”

  • I wear high heels.

I don’t know why this would be, because wearing high heels, in addition to making me feel cool, also makes me feel pain, in some cases great pain. There’s nothing worse than a new pair of shoes that, after a few hours of trying to walk gingerly whilst experiencing throbbing jabs of pain from heal to toe, just makes you want to cut your feet off. But at the same time, they just look so good! I guess one of the reasons that wearing elevated shoes makes me feel cool is that they just simply make me look taller. I know it’s not true, but it feel likes my legs actually become longer and leaner. In my minds-eye, I get ballerina legs when I wear high heels, and that is definitely cool.

  • I work out in the morning.

This flies in the face of the first “coolness” point I just listed, because I can’t even get up in the morning if I stay up past 10:30 p.m., but exercising in the morning just makes me feel cool inside. I imagine myself as an athletic person when I workout in the morning, which really isn’t true. I hate it actually. I hate moving. I’d much rather sleep in. But afterwards, I get this really big euphoria of coolness. My body just feels different. My legs feel a little cramped and tired, and my clothes seem to fit better all day. (As long as I don’t indulge at lunch, which just makes my pants feel tight all afternoon.) After a workout in the morning, I feel like I’m the lady that “goes to the gym.” You know, the one who’s always so busy, but seems so put together at the same time. I feel cool, like her. There’s something about getting up in the morning and actually having enough energy to workout that makes me feel like I can conquer the world.

  • I eat artichokes or asparagus.

I know this is silly, but I have definite “cool” associations with these foods. First of all, strange foods are inherently cool. And I’m not a food snob, actually far from. I adore hamburgers, corndogs, cheese fries, pizza, and anything else that’s mass produced and dripping in grease (unfortunately). However, I still assert that there is something cool about unfamiliar foods, especially fruits and vegetables. My first experience with asparagus happened about 4 years ago. I was having a birthday, and my little sister and I were home by ourselves. She loves cooking and wanted to make a birthday feast. She cooked a lovely chicken dinner. The side dish was asparagus, drizzled with olive oil and sea salt, broiled, and topped with mozzarella. Wow, it was a party in my mouth, and I’m not talking about pop rocks. I first encountered artichokes after I was married. DH’s parents used to steam a whole artichoke, and then peel off the leaves and dip the ends into a delicious and tangy mustard sauce. I peeled, I dipped, and I savored. And now I can’t stop thinking about artichoke hearts. The thing is . . . if these dishes had been something I’d grown up with, I think their levels of “cool” would have deteriorated. As I try new things, inevitably this will continue to happen, and soon those cool exotic foods will just seem commonplace. So, I’ll just have to keep trying weird sounding foods to sustain that cool feeling. There are still lots—I’ve never eaten a pomegranate or a kumquat . . .

  • I finish a book in just a few days.

Now, this is something that just makes me feel so cool. Usually the books I’ve been able to finish this quickly are by no means difficult reads. I am not a fast reader, and it takes me a while to plow through hard books. But, somehow that doesn’t diminish the coolness of the fact that I can read a just-for-fun book quickly. I think one of the reasons for the feeling is that it makes me feel like my internal library is expanding. Like my brain is getting new wrinkles with each book I check off the list. I remember when I was taking an American Lit class my sophomore year of college, and we had to pick a research project from a list. Sylvia Plath and The Bell Jar was one of the choices, which was a book I’d always wanted to read. But, before I picked the project, I wanted to see what the book was like, so I checked it out and started on Friday, finishing it on Saturday evening. When I went to tell my professor that I was locked in for the Plath project, she asked me what I knew about the book. I told her that I’d checked it out and read it over the weekend, and she seemed surprised and impressed.

So, I “made my muscle man pose,” peeked out the corner of my eye and thought, Yeah, that’s cool.


laurylaro said...

You are definitely the coolest person I know. I wish I was brave enough to try some of the food I always hear Martha Stewart talking about. Certain foods definitely lend themselves to a more sophisticated ("cool") audience.

Thomas said...

i know i am your mother in law, but i have always thought you were cool. you love my son. that makes you cool. also, i have been wanting to ask you about some of the best books you have read. probably too many to name, but if there are a few, i would love to know. always looking for a good read.