Cool is a state of grace

2010-07-12 10:00

Fans of the British car show Top Gear are ­familiar with the “cool wall” concept in which the show’s presenters decide which cars are cool, ­uncool or subpar.

They take no scientific approach and the concept is based purely on personal taste.

The word “cool” was appropriated by popular urban culture in the 1980s and 1990s, and came to mean much more than a slight dip in the temperature. It ­represented a certain panache, a cutting edge – an existence at the forefront of what was ­admired and fashionable.

Since then, there have been many synonyms – dope, fresh, fine, wicked, sick and so on – but “cool” still lingers – well, at least in the minds of those of us who ­straddle our adolescent and ­ageing years.

We still use the phrase “­attempting to be cool”. I am ­starting to suspect, though, that I have moved ­beyond being cool and have now shifted from the centre to the fringes of who ­defines what is considered cool.

There are just certain things I can’t bring myself to do, wear or listen to. This includes using words like “swagger” and wearing lots of colours. What I say often sounds like what I heard from my ­father in my teens and 20s.

I went through the cool things like I was being paid to consume them: viscose shirts, “mashoabana” clothes, gold ­jewellery, s-curls, ­Gypsy sneakers, hi-top fades, Doc Martins, Pepe jeans, Kappa ­tracksuits and ­FUBU.

Now that I am not cool, I have decided that cool is not about what you wear and how you look; it is the kind of person you are.

Do you live with integrity and treat people with respect?

This is what makes you cool in my eyes. Perhaps I’m just ­consoling ­myself.

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