After watching several episodes of Top Gear and listening to Jeremy Clarkson espouse the coolness of Aston Martins and Zondas, Climber began to question us: Toyotas are quite cool, aren't they? Umm, no sorry sweetie. But Toyota Corollas like ours, they're a bit cool? I'm regretful and Fixit is chortling. Nay, scoffing. No sweetie, sorry, definitely not. It's a really good car for getting a tricky carpark, it's reliable and easy to drive, but erm .. no darling, not cool. Climber takes it quite well. Like me, he has an emotional attachment to good old Claude Corolla and has been known to get a bit tearful at the prospect of selling it for a station-wagon (still on our to-do list) so maybe he doesn't really believe us. Deep down, I'm not actually convinced that I believe us, because I thought my car was way cool when I first bought it and not just because it had an FBI licence plate. I mean, look, is that the face of a chick who's just brought home an uncool car? I think not. Ten years later, my opinion hasn't changed that much. Climber may have picked up on this, the fact that I don't care what Clarkson thinks. Or Fixit, come to that.
Being cool, it's so subjective. I didn't think that I was at all cool in high school - too scrawny, too fair-skinned, too red-headed, and a teacher's pet and A-grade student to boot. But then, I know my stocks went up after each performance in the school plays, so maybe I was cooler than I thought. These days I think why on earth would I care whether the bogans at my high school thought I was cool, what sort of recommendation would that be? See? Subjective. I'm at peace with my personal level of coolth these days. To some people I might look a bit cool, to others I'm a hopeless loser. What can you do? I yam what I yam. I'm pretty happy in my own skin these days, I generally like where my life is at, and only fear the derision of others once a month when the hormones take over.
At a time when I might have been expected to abandon pretensions to coolness because cool is for the young and hip, the whole issue is cropping up again. At least this time I'm not a hormonal teenager wondering if I'll ever get a boyfriend and having meltdowns because I'm wearing the wrong style of trousers to school. This time, I'm a mother to a boy who is beginning to grapple with the whole concept and this means I can just observe it, I don't have to live it. Also, my cool stakes, as far as the Climber is concerned, are just about as good as they'll ever be. He's still young enough to think Fixit and I are the duck's guts, doesn't really matter what we do.
Climber likes the concept of cool. And popularity, too. He is starting to aspire to coolness. Actually, I think (in my objective and unbiased way) that Climber is already quite the cool dude, with his shaggy blonde good looks and his laid back charm, and the way he carries off a size 4 teddy-bear dressing gown in Grade 2 on Pyjama Day. But he is just starting to sort all this out for himself. Thankfully, the fact that he now knows there is such a thing as being cool (and therefore also uncool) has not wrought any actual changes in him; he does not modify his appearance or his behaviour or his belongings in any way to improve his popularity or his image, unlike some of his peers. He's just thinking about it all. He is still young enough to adore his parents and does not see us as embarrassments and potential life ruiners. He knows I have a tap website and a blog, and that people visit and comment on my blog and he says you're quite popular, aren't you? with this look, almost pride in his eyes. I suspect he confuses web presence with, say, being in the newspaper or on television, but meantime, take heart you cool and popular bloggers, you! And let's see if he still thinks my blog is cool in seven years time, when I start telling the world about his teenage love life.
Recently, we had the Climber's best friend from school over, and when he went home he told his mother that he wanted to live at our place because it was so cool. His poor mother started to get a bit miffed after a while and told me she'd resorted to painting me as a very mean parental figure indeed to burst his bubble: Caroline's very strict, you know! And you'd never get to drink lemonade there! He weighed it up and announced that he was prepared to give up lemonade if only he could live at Climber's house. I don't take credit for the perceived coolness at our place, I know in his eyes it is due to Climber's presence and Climber's toys. Our house could never pass for cool in a grown-up's eye. It is a scruffy rental, full of flaws. We have second-hand, mismatched furniture which could never be gussied up for a style feature, not even one that advocated scruffy, mismatched décor. Our storage solutions are hopeless and bursting at the seams and I am a reluctant housewife, our walls are covered in laminated artworks by the children and alphabet charts. But Climber's friend loved it here, and now his mother is wondering what's wrong with her house. (Nothing, it's lovely, I've checked.)
So there you go. Cool: it's all in the eyes of the beholder. Just when I was starting to feel old and irrelevant, along came a couple of 7 year-old boys to make me think I'm really ace. And as for poor uncool Claude Corolla, don't you go listening to the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, because the Cherub announced this week he is going to give the new splat t-rex bike a name. He's calling it Toyota.