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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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If You’re Not ‘Da Shiznit’, Then Dammit, Don’t Say ‘Da Shiznit’!

I think it’s important to know how cool you are. But more importantly, how cool you’re not.

Unfortunately, most people don’t. Just about everyone out there thinks they’re a lot cooler — or hipper, or smoother — than they really know how to be. They think they’re ‘plugged in’ and ‘hot shit’, when really they’re ‘nice, in a creepy sort of way’ or ‘trying too hard’. These folks have no idea exactly where they fall on the cool continuum.

Well, not me.

I know exactly where I stand. Namely, right in the middle. If there was a ‘Cool or Fool?‘ test — hell, maybe there is — I’d be right in the middle. A 4.8, maybe, or 5.3 out of 10. Half fool, and half cool. A silky smooth yin to offset a gangly, dorky yang. Equal parts James Bond and Mr. Bean. Yeah, that’s me — James Bean. James Friggin’ Bean.

Now, it’s not like I want things that way. I’d love to always make the right move, and say the right thing, and to wear my underwear inside my pants. Truly, I would. But it’s just not meant to be — I can fool some of the people some of the time, but other times I dump spaghetti all over myself, or accidentally spit gum at someone while I’m talking.

And that’s okay. (Embarrassing as hell, of course, but okay.) The key is that I know my limitations. I’ve taken a good hard look at myself, and my life, and my sputtering brain, so I know where I stand. And I know what I can and can’t get away with, unlike many people walking around out there today. For instance:

  • I can listen to dance music if I want, but under no circumstances should I attempt to sing it. Or worse yet, dance to it. (Besides looking like a walrus having an epileptic siezure, there’s a good chance of hurting myself. Or others. Not cool.)
  • I can probably say ‘da bomb‘ without sounding like a goober, but I’ll never get away with ‘da shiznit‘. Correspondingly, this is the only time you’ll ever see me use the phrase ‘all the hizzle-fashizzle-dizzle‘.)
  • I don’t ‘raise the roof’. Not any more. I used to raise the roof, until I was informed that I look like a praying mantis stuck in molasses trying to do jumping jacks. It’s apparently beyond me. So I quit.
  • I can ‘shout out’ to friends with a ‘Yo, dog!‘ or a ‘Whazzup, G?‘, but only ironically. And only if there’s no one else around. And if I’m drunk. And the friend is drunk. And if I don’t actually call it a ‘shout out’.
  • I can go to concerts (but not to raves). At these concerts, I can shuffle back and forth (but not mosh). I can drink beer (but not martinis). And I can sing along with the song (just not out loud). When the concert’s over, I can scoot out the door and get the hell home (not lingering to party/smoke/drink/get laid with the band). And I can talk about the concert the next day (but no one will give a damn).
  • I can watch cool, hip shows like MTV Cribs, Paradise Hotel, That 70’s Show, and Angel (and Buffy, for that matter, if I’m ‘old-school’ — and I am). But I couldn’t actually admit it. And frankly, I’m not really cool enough to want to watch them in the first place, so I just don’t. (Well, okay, maybe a little Buffy, now and then. But you didn’t hear it from me.)
  • I have no business wearing anything made from Spandex, leather, plastic, latex, or PVC. Nor should my outerpants ever be drooped enough to reveal any part of my underpants. (Or lack thereof, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) My niche is denim, rugbies, and the occasional button-down shirt. Period. High fashion is not for the half-assed cool. (And definitely not for the double-assed non-cool. You smell me, Meatloaf and Tom Arnold?)
  • I will never get away with sayings like, ‘Snap, yo!‘ or ‘Bling bling!‘. It’s just not going to happen. ‘Homeslice‘? No. ‘Juicebox‘? Man, I wish. I don’t even know people who can say ‘juicebox’ without getting snickered at. No way, man.

As you can see, I’ve given this a lot of thought. And as much as I embarrass myself on a daily basis — and clearly, I do — it’s not because I’m trying to be cooler than I can realistically manage. It’s usually something simpler than that, like trying to speak coherently, or walking in a straight line, or controlling my ‘drool reflex’. But not trying to ‘outcool’ myself — believe me, I know my limitations, impressive that they are.

But maybe I can help you. Maybe you’re one of the millions of people out there who don’t realize that cool and hip and smooth have passed them by. Perhaps you’re fooling yourself even now, at this very moment. You might be wearing sunglasses inside, or referring to yourself in the third person. Or maybe you’re wearing your visor askew on your balding head, or sporting a FUBU jacket, when the garment is neither F-U nor B-U. Well, I’m here to offer you one simple rule that can help you get over this awful, embarrassing mental hump. The rule is this:

If you can’t say, or even think, a word without putting ‘mental quotes’ around it, then for the love of Puffy, don’t use it in public!

Read that again, folks. It’s a powerful message. If you’re not completely comfortable with a word or phrase, then it’s overwhelmingly likely that you’re not cool enough to get away with using it around people who know better. And once you stop saying cool, street-savvy shit that makes you look like an aging clueless asshat, the sooner you’ll stop dressing and acting that way, too. Leave the cool shit for the cool kids, man. Someday soon they’ll be old and fat and dorky like us — don’t begrudge them their all-too-brief time in the sun.

Seriously, you don’t want to be ‘that’ guy or girl, the one who ‘rarf-rarf-rarf!‘s with everybody else without really getting it, or struts down the street, thinking they’re ‘pimping’ when they’re really just ‘limping’.

Take my mother, for example. Fine lady. I love her to death. But shit, people — my mom’s not cool. And I think she accepts that, finally. Back in the day (which I’m just cool enough to get away with saying), she used to try to be cool. But it was futile, and just damned embarrassing for all involved. See, it was obvious she wasn’t cool, because she mind-quoted the very word ‘cool‘. She couldn’t just say it, or work it into conversation. It was always obvious she was trying to fit in. We’d have conversations like this:

Her: So, how was school today?

Me: Um, okay. I guess. (Hey, I was a teenager. What do you want, friggin’ Shakespeare?)

Her: Didn’t you have a field trip today?

Me: Oh. Yeah. We went to the museum. And stuff.

Her: Oh, wow! That’s great! How was that?

Me: Uh, all right, I guess. There were dinosaurs. Those were all right.

Her: Yeah, you always liked dinosaurs. That sounds pretty… *pause* ‘cool’ *pause*. Yeah? ‘Cool’? Did I say it right? *pause* ‘Cool’?

Me: Bleh. I’m goin’ outside to play.

Good Lord and butter, she tried, people. But it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe she was cool at some point — or more likely groovy, man — but she definitely wasn’t cool by the time I knew what cool was. She was just trying too damned hard.

So the lesson is: know your limits. Don’t glom onto your crotch and gliiiide through the crosswalk unless you know what you’re doing (and you can actually feel something when you go a-grabbing down there). Don’t go to a job interview and ‘give props to the pimps and the bitches in the hizzouse‘. If you’ve selected a robust and charming Bordeaux to sip with dinner, you’re probably not going to get away with pouning the first drink on the carpet in honor of all your ‘homies what never made it out da hood‘. Just don’t even try, all right?

Or if you do, at least check the room first to see what you’re dealing with. If you’re surrounded by a bunch of other stuffed-shirt old-fart fuddy duddies, then you just might earn some ‘cred’ with your antics. But be careful. There just might be one or two genuinely cool folks lurking in the background, ready to call you out for being the square cat that you are. And you’ll never spot ’em; they’re blending in with the crowd. Playing it cool, you see?

So it’s best just to save the fronting and posturing and ‘hey-hey-hey‘s for your private moments, lest you cause an unwanted brouhaha in your favorite bar or hangout. (Or Denny’s, if you’re particuarly delusional. Dude, nobody who was ever cool has gone to a Denny’s. It’s like oil and water, man. Oil and water.) The last thing you want is to be thrown out of some joint on your ear because you pimp-slapped a waiter, or told the manager to ‘talk to the hand, bee-yatch‘.

Anyway, I hope this has helped. And this is a case where helping you really does help me, if I don’t have to watch you dance or sing or strut your skanky stuff around. I’m just embarrassed for both of us at that point. So be like me and keep it under wraps. Dont’ be ‘cool‘ — just be cool, and everything will be fine. Trust me, I’ve lived the alternative, and that’s not what you want. I still can’t get those damned wine stains out of the carpet.

Permalink  |  5 Comments

5 Responses to “If You’re Not ‘Da Shiznit’, Then Dammit, Don’t Say ‘Da Shiznit’!”

  1. Buzz says:

    I am so definitely uncool. In fact, the coolest thing that I do is ‘act cool’ around my kids (21,20 and 1. I throw some “Word Up”s and “That’s Dope”s at ’em and they go screaming for the exit. Haha!! Damn! I’m cool. No, wait. Uncool. Shit! I forgot which one I was (which definitely shows you which one I am).

  2. Buzz says:

    Hey! That’s funny. I typed in the number eighteen and a rightt paren and it turned it into, ironically, a cool smiley. Weird, man.

  3. Buzz says:

    Hey! That’s funny. I typed in the word ‘right’ and somehow an extra t got thrown onto the end. As if it wanted to try a hop skip and a jump over to my ultra cool abbreviation of parenthesis (paren) and make it parent, which is obviously a much less cool word. Much less cooler….uncoolerer….Oh forget it!

  4. Buzz says:

    Ok, I think I’m done commenting on this post. I believe I’ve done enough damage here.

    Please. Carry on.

  5. Zoot says:

    The fact that I know the ins and outs of a computer, have a Dungeons and Dragons character, and play in a band (and I’m talking conductor, tubas, and percussion section symphonic band.. no cool rock band) clarifies me as Grade A uncool. And I now live in Brooklyn, where there’s more than enough crotch glomming and bling-blinging going around to gag a maggot. Did I say gag a maggot? I rest my case.

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