Tuesday, July 22, 2014

You Think You're Cooler than Me...

12 year-old nina
So I can’t remember if I’ve told you this story yet…so I’m going to tell it to you again.  When I was in sixth grade one of the “cool” girls invited me to her birthday party.  I was excited as hell.  This was going to be big.

Speaking of big, my mom had an idea for a gift.  She bought a HUGE ASS cooler, like a thing you put ice in and stuff.  She decided that I was going to give that as a gift to a 12-year old girl. 

Did you hear what I said? She wanted me to give this ENORMOUS cooler to my friend who was just a regular girl.  I protested, but apparently I lost because she wrapped that thing.  It took both her and my dad to wrap it together to get it done.  I could hardly pick it up. 

So I come into the party, trying to act ‘cooler’ than I looked while carrying a cooler.  Literally.  Everyone was staring at me when I entered my friend’s house.  “Yours is the biggest present we will open that last!” one of my friends yelled.  I looked at her like I was scared. 

I was nervous until it was time to open presents.  I tried to hide in the bathroom but that didn’t look so good.  So I stood there with my palms sweating.  My friend got cool stuff like magazines about pop stars and other appropriate things.  “I can’t wait to open your gift!” was my friend’s sentiment towards me.

I can’t wait to fall over and die is what I thought.  My face started turning red, as it was my turn.  Everyone was paying attention to this one. She slowly unwrapped the gift; oh I forgot to mention it was wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper.  Red and green.  Could I have looked like more of a fool?  How could I look less cool?

As she opened the gift her eyes were wide with wonder, and then it happened.  It was right there for everyone to see.  Another friend of mine looked at me curiously, “It’s a cooler?”  I didn’t say anything and tried to smile.  I wanted to scream that it was my mother’s idea; it was all her weird fault.  But that would have just made me look weirder. 

It was bad enough that I was the only minority in the room.  But trust me everyone was assured that I was ‘different’ when they saw that gift.  “You got her a cooler?” my friend’s mother asked. 

Yes I did people.  I am not cool. I had to bring something to cool my ass. 

It was a sleepover party and later that night I wanted to hide in the cooler, I was so embarrassed.  But I think everyone was over it, I think they stored all the other gifts in the cooler.  I bet you her parents used that cooler at barbeques and picnics.  It was more like a ‘family gift’ if you ask me. 

So after my mother forced me to commit social suicide, I went to school like normal the next Monday.  I don’t know if kids were talking about the cooler, probably everyone forgot about it.  Everyone but me.

A year later I moved to Troy, Michigan.  I was on my way to being less cool when I entered a new school.  At the time I wore very colorful sweaters with huge patterns on them.  I think they were in style.  I cannot be sure. 

I was definitely uncool in school when I first moved to Troy.  It was one of the hardest years of my life.  I wasn’t as studious as the smart Indian kids and I wasn’t cool enough for the cool kids.  I didn’t fit in anywhere.  I was the smartest kid in Livonia and the dumbest Indian in Troy.  No one knew what to do with me; least of all did I know what to do with myself. 

However, finally by high school I gave up the swirling patterned sweaters and lost some weight and looked almost ‘normal.’ I mean I wasn’t ‘normal’ normal.  I was just now as much of a freak as I was in middle school.   

I think I was cool in college.  I mean I’m having trouble analyzing it objectively but I hung out with some ‘cool’ people.  I didn’t drink like a mad woman or have random sex in college but I had a good time.  I even bought a black leather jacket from The Gap.  It was by far my coolest possession.  The check bounced when I bought it, but I ended up owning it nevertheless.    

When I moved to New York for grad school I bought a sable colored leather jacket.  I was funky back then.  Everyone is cool in New York.  You can be yourself there.  There is no standard of coolness: people are so different all around the city. I think I finally came into myself there.  Although I did lose my mind there as well, but I was never ashamed to tell people in New York that I had Manic Depression.  I felt like you had to have something to get into the School of Arts at Columbia.  It’s not a myth; writers and artists are bit mad. 

I swear a couple people were jealous of me that I had so much to write about, being crazy and all.  It was cool to be crazy at Columbia.  In fact I told a couple people I had to spend some time in a psych ward.  This one guy was like, “Man if they put me in there, they would never let me out.”  He was not diagnosed or anything, he was just street crazy.  He would exclusively write about gory homicides and rapes.

The real question is, am I cool now?  I don’t know how to answer that: I’m almost forty. I don’t know if I care anymore. I think I need to start using a new word besides ‘cool.’  I think I’m groovy.  How about that?

What about you, are you cool?  In my biased opinion I think if you are taking the time to read this, you are definitely cool. 



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