How cool am I?
I’ve given up trying to look cool. When I was a twenty-something, beer-
swilling sax-player, I would occasionally be mistaken for “cool.” But those
days are long gone. I am a middle-age father of two. I look like an aging
weasel and my fashion sense doesn’t extend beyond jeans and T-shirts. My
car has goldfish crackers and raisins imbedded in the seats and there are
crayons in my briefcase. I couldn’t pull off “cool” if my life depended on
So rather than striving for cool, my goal is to “not look like a complete
I don’t always succeed. Take my recent parking lot experience for example…
Our parking lot is sectioned off by rows of dense, stubby bushes. They are
anywhere from two to three feet tall. Some contend that they were planted
to make the parking lot more aesthetically pleasing. In truth, they
to make my trip from the car to the front door more challenging. Oh sure,
could walk AROUND the rows of bushes, but that would add an additional
30-40 seconds to the trip. No. I must cut through the shrubbery.
Did I mention that these are juniper bushes? For those of you unfamiliar
these wonders of nature, junipers are the single most prickly, itchy, nasty
in the western hemisphere. They are generally inhabited by spiders, rats
toy-eating goblins. I doubt there is a child in America who hasn’t lost at
one superball in the depths of a juniper bush.
So every day, for the last ten years, I walked through the rows of bushes,
into my office building. And every day, the junipers grew bigger, meaner
more impassible. And one day, the inevitable happened...I fell in.
I strode across the parking lot with a purpose. I had a head full of ideas,
in one hand, and my briefcase in the other. I didn’t give it a second thought
I made my push through the waist-high greenery. Everybody else was walking
AROUND the bushes, but not me. I was in a hurry. I had things to do…I lost
It wasn’t one of those slow-motion falls where you pinwheel your arms and
over like a majestic sequoia. It was more like God reached down and bitch-
slapped me. I went down fast and sideways. There was no time to try to break
my fall. Besides, my hands were full. One second I was walking to work. The
next I was laying on my left arm, stuck in a bush.
Falling into a bush is different from your average, run-of-the-mill fall.
If you, say,
fall in the cafeteria, you just pick up your tray and walk out while all
yell, FRESHMAN!!!!!!!!!” But when you fall into a bush, you can’t pop right
back up. Nope. First you must free yourself.
So there I was, a grown man, thrashing around in a juniper bush; trying to
upright, getting itchy, struggling with my briefcase, losing my coffee cup…looking
like a complete dumbass while all the suburban professionals walked AROUND
the bushes and pretended not to notice me thrashing about like an enraged
Later that day, as I removed the twigs and stickers from my hair, I wondered
I could possible be less cool. Probably. I just haven’t achieved it yet
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