I'm the first to admit that I am not cool - I never have been. I used to wear t-shirts with pugs and other animals on them, and still don't really know how to dress myself. I say stupid things, and I'm sometimes too honest for my own good. I also spend a lot of time daydreaming, so people find me to be a little bit flighty at times.
But when you're young and insecure, the only thing you ever wish for is to be cool - to be accepted by a crowd of people you perceive to be god-like; beautiful, eloquent, smooth, funny, aloof and untouchable. You end up finding out later that many of them are Grade A Bumholes, but that fact doesn't really occur to you in the throws of adolescent angst.
My biggest crime in high school was the fact that I played in the orchestra. I realized from an early age that playing an instrument did not lead one to a life of fame and glamour. You could often see me darting furtively from school, viola case in hand, praying to the lord above that no one would spot me. Many of my friends didn't even know I played an instrument until years later. I would often tell my parents to lie to current boyfriends who called if I was out at practice.
I wouldn't have admitted it at the time, but I really loved to play music. There's something about finally "getting" a song that causes me to break out in goosebumps all over my arms - it's the same sensation I feel at an amazing concert or Broadway musical - the music swells to a crescendo, and all of a sudden you get a rush of something...spiritual people might describe it as touching God, but I think it's just the witnessing of true beauty. And as a group, when you're finally all in tune and playing in perfect unison, you can sense that you have done it - perfection!
At the time I fancied myself to be a decent musician - I played the piano, was in the high school orchestra and choir, and also played in a cross-town youth orchestra. I had dreams of going to university to get a degree in music, and perhaps playing in the "pit" orchestras I loved listening to so much during musical theatre productions.
But the bid for popularity got in my way, and I was soon skipping choir practice for cheerleading practice, and hanging out with boyfriends who didn't give a damn about joining anything (let alone a BAND). And so I lost the attention of my music teacher, lost some other friends I cared a lot about, and essentially, lost my way entirely. I went to university for business!! (granted, I found my way back to something I was passionate about, but it wasn't music)
I don't have any regrets and definitely look back on a lot of fun times, but sometimes wonder what might have happened if I'd embraced my uncoolness and followed my passions? Like William Miller, would I have realized that the "industry of cool" was just one big sham, run by people who lacked any substance whatsoever? As I navigate my way through motherhood, I often look at my daughter and wonder what her experience will be like. I'm smart enough to know that I cannot shield her from any hurt or mistakes, but I do hope she'll be confident enough to do that herself and follow whatever path she chooses to go down.
And as for me, well, my pug t-shirt still sits in the bottom of one of my drawers....maybe today...nahhh. I think I'll stick with what I'm wearing.
The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool