Affirmation Of Hipness

Posted By Jesse

the epitome of cool

I play it cool

I dig all jive

That’s the reason

I stay alive

My motto

As I live and learn

Is dig and be dug in return

-Langston Hughes

Let me begin by saying I am comfortable in my coolness. I mean, look at the above picture of Danny and me kicking it at DJ’s 13th Birthday poolside party last summer; it is not hard to discern who the hippest cats in the joint were.

I can quote from a wide variety of movies both classic and sophomoric. I am not afraid to wear my hat backwards. My music collection used to be jaw-dropping, before the digital boom hit and every sucker with an external hard drive could, in 30 minutes, obtain the amount of music I had spent two decades amassing. I can even drive a minivan while playing air drums and not look stupid doing it (I know this because DJ and Danny have both admitted they have attempted to play air instruments as well as I do, and so far have not been successful).

I know sports and pop culture well enough that I typically can catch allusions made to either, or weave them into my own conversation. I can still ride a bike no-hands. I can fake my way around a skateboard for a few minutes. I have mastered the two-fingered steering wheel salute and the expressionless head nod as a form of greeting strangers. I know freaking Langston Hughes poetry! Clearly, with all these things going for me, there is no reason to question myself: I am cool.

But you’d be amazed how much a teenager and two aspiring ones can make you feel like a geek. Here are a list of utterances I hear regularly. Let me know if any sound familiar:

“What are you WEARing?”

“How do you not know this song?”

“Have you really never heard of ______?”

“Were you trying to do The Dougie? Because you’re not even close.”

“Will you please play a song we KNOW? This is terrible.”

“What are you doing?”

“Can you just meet me around the corner so I don’t have to be seen being picked up?”

“This show is not stupid. YOU’RE stupid.”

“Do you have a girlfriend?” “Of COURSE he doesn’t…who would be his girlfriend?”

“Oh my god you’re SO annoying.”

“Can you please stop talking, I can’t hear my TV show.”

Mean Girls, indeed. And, to be fair, the Tanner girls are generally nice, polite, well-behaved, respectful children. I can’t imagine being the Uncle to, you know, punks.

But it adds up. And makes me wonder, “Do they see me as a loser parent now? I kind of relished the role as care-free uncle.” Maybe you can’t enforce piano practice policy strictly AND be Mr. With-it.

So it’s nice to get reminders that you still got it, and that you can still be an influence when it comes to what’s hot and what’s not. I got one the other day in the form of a text from DJ:

“So I showed that song i’ll be in the sky to a few friends now like every1 knows and likes it. Haha”

That’s right, a song that I played incessantly last fall had now been passed along the middle school line and received favorable reviews. I was so full of myself I smugly texted her back that if she stuck with me, I’d keep her knee-deep in good tunes.

Maybe a girlfriend, or a better car, or some clothes I didn’t find buried in an overstuffed rack at the thrift store would actually bring my hipness up a few levels. But for the day, I was pretty satisfied that a few middle schoolers in Raleigh were digging the song I had floated out there into teenage-land.

And it IS a pretty catchy tune:


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  1. Charlotte Gregory

     /  March 17, 2011

    Uncle Jesse, it has never occured to me to question your coolness. I think we know who it is who needs the most help in your household, and it ain’t the kids.

  2. Mel Ham

     /  March 17, 2011

    I cna’t decide which one looks more like the Cheap Trick dude…it’s a toss up!

  3. Charlotte Gregory

     /  March 17, 2011

    So, I have now listened to B.O.B. for the last half hour. Cool indeed.

  4. Cool is having your own confidence. Even when wearing bow ties with baseball caps and publishing the pic! 🙂

  5. Aunt Susan

     /  March 17, 2011

    Dear Uncle Cool, I have actually always been impressed with your coolness. I am very proud to say that I am the aunt to a really cool guy.


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