As I’ve gotten older I’ve grown to accept the fact that I’m not that cool. I’m not uncool, I don’t stop record players or scare babies, but I’ll never be complimented on my haircut or shoe selection. As okay with my lack of coolness as I am, I still want to be cool, we all do or we’d wear sweatpants everywhere*. It’s that underlying desire that made me approach yesterday’s GQ parties at the Bud Light Hotel with an anthropologists eye for what makes cool, cool.
The first differences I noticed were during the day at the pool party. People seemed to have really interesting sunglasses and avoid clothes that fit, opting instead for things that were either very tight or flowed like that Danube. There also seemed to be an increased density of hats and a high casual smile quotient. Those initial observations aside, there really was no identifiable factor of cool that I could put my finger on, everyone was different, but they were all the same.
After I turned down a mid-afternoon libation, which means, because I’m in South Florida and a writer, Hemingway’s ghost will one day beat up my ghost, I talked to some of these cool strangers hoping there might be a place where all the cool people come from, maybe some magical glade in Mississippi where from a crystalline spring an endless chain of the cool walk forth across dewey fields into a life followed by sunshine, but they were all from different places and did different jobs, so I gave up my interview and got a personally engraved mojito masher.
During the time between the pool party and last nights VIP GQ event, I took a long thinking walk. What was it that made the super cool, super cool? It wasn’t one thing they wore or said or didn’t say, it was no affected look or perfected walk, it was unidentifiable. And then, like a vintage vinyl of a band you’ve never heard of across the back of the head, it hit me. The key being cool is being cool.
There wasn’t anything I was or wasn’t doing, no change to make, just an overall shift in my personal attitude. I entered the VIP Lounge in the GQ event that Matthew got us into with this fresh set of the mind. For the first couple hours nothing was different, I saw a lot more cool people than during the day, a countless mob of stylish somebodies, NFL stars and girls who are or could be models. I was confident in my new found coolness, but was it obvious to everyone else? After a few libations I decided it was not and in order to make sure it was, I started high-fiving everyone in my path, which within the first few high-fives, caught on like hand-slapping wildfire.
The amazing high-five-a-thon that ensued was loved by pretty much everyone in the VIP lounge, but after more than an hour of it, I started to wonder was it really cool? Just as my confidence in my coolness started to wane, Matt** turned and connected with one of the greatest high-fives I’ve ever seen or heard. If there were champagne glasses on a table nearby they would have exploded and the liquid that remained would have, for a visible instant, spelled “awesome!” I followed with a clean arcing slap to one of his entourage and Matthew rounded it out with an aggressive double-five to a third.
It turned out to be a former NFL player, one with some kind of championship ring blinging on his finger, and his boys from back home (Seattle). He turned to Matt with a smile and said, I kid you not, “You guys are pretty cool.” With the affirmation I’d been wanting ringing in my ears I considered going back to the room, exiting at the triumphant peak of my night, but then the NFL player invited us to go party with him and his friends, and thinking that would make for a pretty cool story, I obliged.
*If no one cared about coolness everyone would dress for comfort leading to a world filled with flannel pants and sweatsuits.
**I realize that everyone I know is named Matt and that it seems ridiculous, but it is what it is.