Used to be Cool

Two Guys Who Used to be Cool

Two Guys Who Used to be Cool

Student X: “I’m going to Mumford and Sons concert in July.”

Student Y: “I’m jealous. Tickets are too expensive.”

Me: “What are you talking about?”

X: “A band…”

Me: “Yeah? Which one?”

Y: “Mumford and Sons…?”

This was phrased as a question with rising intonation, accompanied by a head shake and frown. Telltale signs you think the person you’re giving information to won’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Imagine you’ve asked someone the name of their hometown and they come back with Bagakhangai?

Me: (confused) “I know them.”

X: (amazed) “You do?”

I realize the problem now. They are forgetting that I wasn’t born 41 years old. They are forgetting that I too had a youth, got wild, had a drink or two, enjoyed shenanigans.

They don’t know that I used to be cool.

And I was. I used to be cool. Used to be. As in, was in the past but not anymore.

I think I used to be, anyway. It might be an age problem. Roger Kahn wrote that “baseball skill relates inversely to age. The older a man gets, the better a ball player he was when young…” Is it the same with past coolness? Is it possible that my memory is skewing a cooler young me that never was?


But who cares.

I used to be cool. At least that’s what my mother always told me. I used to know stuff that was happening right at the time it was happening. Though I never dressed in a way that anyone would characterize as “cool,” I did know what the cool people were wearing. I used to be invited by other people (some of them wearing cool people clothing) to places where fun things were happening and had fun there with those people. Sometimes in jeans.

Herein lies one problem with teaching young people. While they are cool now, you (the teacher) are not. Because as cool as I may (or may not) have been at some point, I am not cool now.

I’m just not.

I have a cat. I write about that cat at length. I have an unironic mustache. 40% of my wardrobe is sweater-based, 60% is earth-toned. I find myself making the occasional “dad” joke. I buy pragmatic underpants. Sex and pizza elicit roughly the same level of joy.

Still, I know this is an old story. It’s a circle of life thing and everything comes full circle. I have some inkling that my parents were cool at one point, but it’s purely theoretical. My parents are not cool and haven’t been cool since the mid-1970s – right around the time I came along. When my sister and I found out that my dad had been in a band in the 60s, we couldn’t have been more astounded if George Harrison had crawled out of my mother’s ear. (If you’re cool now, Dave Grohl is today’s George Harrison).

As uncool as my parents are, I enjoy being uncool with them. I talk to my mother about hemorrhoids and cooking, often in the same conversation. I talk to my dad about books and heartburn medicine. All solidly uncool. And I wouldn’t change this or myself for anything.

It’s just that occasionally we have to come to terms with some of life’s realities.

And today, as I mentally review Mumford and Sons song titles that I know in case I am asked to prove my knowledge, that reality is that I am not cool anymore.

But as this is all part of the circle of life, one day these students won’t be cool either. And one day – maybe a drizzly day in March – it’s going to hit them that they used to be cool and their entire belly fit under their shirts and their underpants were exciting and they wore cool clothes and they knew cool things. And the next day they aren’t cool, they are pragmatic and awkward.

A little part of me wants to tell them that I used to be cool, but in fact, telling someone you’re cool is the uncoolest thing you can possibly do. I swear I’m cool. So, this whole post is ironic. Which is extra ironic, because the second least cool thing you can do is to tell someone that you are being funny.



  1. #1 by Human Bean on April 1, 2016 - 5:20 am

    Mumford and Sons never were cool. They’re like the prime example of uncool. Hope that helps

  2. #2 by Allison on April 4, 2016 - 5:58 am

    You two are adorable in your deerstalkers.

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