Cool

Obviously, any use of the word cool is used in an ironic or sarcastic sense, because I’m too cool to use the word cool. Obviously.


I think I’m ashamed of wanting to be a writer; it’s a specific kind of self-loathing which has dogged me all my life. A friend of mine from university, a much more talented and intelligent man than me, used to sit next to me in our Final Portfolio/Creative Writing lecture type-things – not the ‘workshop’ seminars, but the wasteful obligation where we would all pile into an oversized room to hear about nothing very much.

One day, this woman asked the entire class what they wanted to be after we finished our degrees; entirely as a means of making the time fill out until we could all rush off to our respective seminars. Well, there were all the usual answers: ‘Write fiction’, ‘author’, ‘teacher’, ‘copywriter’, ‘publisher’, ‘editor’, – a lot more people wanted to writer Child-friendly fiction than I had thought but that’s their business.

Anyway, she gets to our table, the guy on the far end says ‘scriptwriter’, the next guy says ‘what’ve you got’ which caused a brief laugh, an acknowledgement of the reference by the surprisingly few of us who understood it; I shrugged and said something like ‘whatever I can get’ and this guy, this absolute genius, puts on this sarcastic, patronising, sardonic grin and he says ‘it isn’t cool to want anything’. I don’t know why, especially as we all knew he was only joking, but that really, really stuck with me. It felt like, for a fraction of a second, that’s what I had been living my entire life – I wasn’t cool when I was a kid, I was chubby and nerdy and got bullied on a regular basis, wherever I want, there was someone taking the piss out of me, but how desperately I wanted to be cool!

So me and him, we joke about it for the rest of the lecture, made noises in the backs of our throat like cool guys would, talked about smoking behind the bike sheds after the lecture and all that stereotypical stuff.

I don’t know why it stuck with me, resonated with me, but I think it’s because, in the back of my mind when I was younger, I so desperately wanted to be cool and, then, I was in the position where I was mocking cool people even whilst sharing their inability to find anything interesting. I was, I think, so ravaged by the distant and aloof attitude I inevitably adopted when I was younger that it had more of a profound effect on my eventual antisocial character than I thought.

Ah well, who knows? Armchair psychology may very well be the new craze, but I don’t think I’m very good at it,

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