Image via WikipediaIn my youth I was very careful to avoid being fussy in my actions and gestures. Fussy, in my mental schema, was the opposite of cool. Those who were cool got things done with a minimum of effort and a swoosh of style. Those who fuss take time and are painstaking about what they do. They never take off the training wheels nor trust their feet enough to try the high wire.
There have been times when the difference between cool and fussy have struck me a weltering blow, particularly while an undergraduate. There were people who knew how to sit in the bar, drink a pint and smoke a cigarette and were cool doing it. Many others, me included, were not so sophisticated but I watched, envious, and learned.
In my first year at Uni I lived in on-campus flats and shared a corridor with about 12 other freshers. During the first week we were all asked to make the place more friendly by writing our names on a card and sticking it on our door.
I fretted over the best way to do that and the over-analysis, fussiness, robbed me of any chance of looking spontaneous or cool. In the end I just used an index card with my name written in black marker. In the dim corridor it looked a bit shrill.
A guy down the hall demonstrated the cool way. His card was a torn off corner off a notebook with his name scrawled across it and thumbed to the door with a blob of blue-tac. The paper wasn't even white. It looked like he had gone "Oh, yeah. That." Then done it and moved on. Too cool for school.
For some reason that memory occurred to me this week while I was eating soup. God knows why. With this soup I had a hunk of bread and I wondered, in a very idle moment, what would be the coolest way to butter the bread. Was there a way to hold the knife, to scoop up the butter on the knife and apply it to the bread that was better than any other? I tried a few different ways but most left me wearing the butter rather than eating it. Should I dab the bread in the butter and do away with the knife? Should I use a flick knife?
And then I realised how pointless that debate was. Why? Because cool people do not eat soup. That's why.