My grandmother – or maybe it was Captain Kangaroo – used to say, “Cool doesn’t care about temperature.”
While such wink-and-a-nod sarcasm was mainly aimed at yours truly, they pertain to teenagers of any generation, when looking good and fitting in defy all other forms of logic. It’s why so many young ‘uns end up sweatin’ like they’ve stepped out of a Richard Simmons exercise video because they think a jacket in August is a fashion statement rather just plain silly.
There was a time when I’d have to count myself in this sad category. I used to wear my bulky letter jacket when it was 98 degrees outside making my sweaty face break out like I’d been smothering it with Miracle Whip rather than Clearasil. And come winter, high school administrators would have to send home notes like, “Please instruct your son to STOP wearing shorts. His purple legs – possibly a sign of frostbite – are starting to freak out the faculty.”
My most fatal faux pas involved a suede leather jacket I got for Christmas my senior year. Dude, I looked dope in that jacket … Kool Moe Dee didn’t have nothin’ on me. Trouble was, winters in Albany were terribly mild … mid 40s was considered freezing. So my window for appropriate wear was very narrow.
Not that it bothered me. I wore that sucker deep into May only to have it ruined following a break-up/make-up fight with my girlfriend. Turns out that suede and running mascara don’t mix. I held onto it for years. The memory of the fight faded, unlike the stain from her tears.
The Diva appears to be the latest victim of such high school histrionics, only her misstep involves flip-flops, which she’s insisted on wearing through Christmas and into these unseasonably cool spring mornings.
Keep in mind that this is a child who keeps her electric blanket on “10” year round because she’s always “freezing” and would wear hoodies in the desert were it not the opportunity to get some sun. And it’s no act or cry for attention. Doubt her true chilliness and The Diva will touch you. Her hands are so cold they could be the source of superpowers like Ice Man.
So My Lovely Wife and I couldn’t help but roll our eyes when she refuses to wear her tennis shoes like a normal person. We nagged her at first, then just decided to sit back and let peer pressure (or hopefully common sense) to take its course.
That was two weeks ago and Little Miss Blue Toes appears unwilling to budge.
Now, full disclosure, this isn’t just about being cool or fitting in. She’s got a perfectly good – and brand new, I might add – pair of black and pink Nikes that have barely left her closet. Why she refuses to wear them is something of a mystery. Our suspicion is that they aren’t as cool looking as they were in the store and she’s afraid they might get unwanted attention, or that because she’s afraid they’ll make her look too tall.
I imagine it’s the latter. Granted, it’s running shoes she’s wearing, not KISS boots. Unfortunately, her boyfriend’s a wee fellow. And while The Diva’s no Jessie Spano from Saved by the Bell, she tends to tower over him in a way that makes her, not necessarily him, self-conscious.
Being a teenager’s tough. Being a cool teenager is a study in personal, painful sacrifice. I guess Grandma knew what she was talking about. Come to think of … she was pretty dope herself.
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com
Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.