The other day, while driving my daughter’s home from school, the discussion was centered on one of the girls friends, Christiana and how much fun it was to stay at her house.
“What makes it so fun to stay at Christina’s house?” I had to ask.
“They let us watch horror movies,” Natalie answered.
“Christina’s parents are cool, too,” Hannah added.
“Yeah, her parents ARE cool,” agreed Natalie.
The horror movie answer was a bit concerning to me, but had not nearly the sting of the cool parents statement. What made her parents so cool? . . . I had always considered myself to be a cool parent.
I never wore dark socks pulled up to my knees while wearing shorts like my dad had done. And I was always doing fun and entertaining things when my daughters had friends over, like playing my hilarious DVD of Star Trek episodes that had the dialogue dubbed over in German, or performing my famous word-for-word reenactment of Walter Cronkite’s moon landing newscast, using a high falsetto voice. But apparently, it takes something far less substantial to be considered cool to this generation of kids.
In the days that followed the overheard conversation in the car, it would bother me every time I thought about it. I remembered when I was a teenager, and how some of my friend’s parents were so much cooler than others. I couldn’t stand it . . . I had to be a cool dad.
I felt certain that it would not take much to push my stature well into the “cool” dad category. I mean it’s not like I was some socially stunted hermit who was completely out of touch with the youth of today. So for the next few evenings, I plotted the grand unveiling of my coolness.
That Friday, I pulled up to the front of the school ready to impress. I knew that some things never change when it comes to the teenage requirements for coolness, so the first thing needed was some loud bumping music.
I would have preferred to have picked out one of my daughters CD’s to blast, but since my 1998 Buick had come equipped with a cassette deck, this was not an option. Luckily, I still had a few tapes in a shoebox in the garage, and luckier yet, some of my sisters old tapes had gotten mixed in with mine . . . teenage girl music is teenage girl music, I figured.
As I slowly drove along the student lined sidewalk in front of the school, I put in my sisters tape that I had picked out, a band called Menudo, and let it rip. The music was loud and had a catchy beat, but apparently teeny bopper music in my sister’s day wasn’t any better than what my daughters listen to, because I couldn’t understand a word they were singing. It was almost like they were singing in Spanish or some other language.
I had my hat on sideways, and despite the pain in my back, I was leaned way over into the middle of the car like I had seen other cool young people doing. I tried my best to bob my head in time with the catchy, loud music. I spotted my girls standing in the row of students, and stopped in front of them.
Wanting to fully display my new found coolness, I cranked the poorly vocalized music even louder and got out to escort my daughters over to the car. As I approached the sidewalk, I noticed quite a few students laughing and pointing in my general direction. There was a particularly criminal looking group of teen boys that began yelling things like “turn that crap down, grandpa!” My oldest daughter seemed to be upset, and possibly crying.
My youngest daughter marched up to me and screamed, “DAD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
“What?” I said calmly, “Do the rules of coolness not apply to guys over 40?”
“Why are you blasting 60’s Spanish music loud enough for the whole town to hear?” She shrieked.
“It’s not from the 60’s, it’s from th- . . . wait, that really is Spanish?” I mumbled.
“And why in the world would you walk around in public like that?” she demanded, sounding even angrier.
I assumed she was talking about my hat being sideways and my underwear showing a bit, like I had seen every other boy at the school wearing.
“Dads can’t sport a little sag?” I asked while making gang-like hand gestures that teens nowadays seem to use while talking.
“You have your underwear pulled up, not your pants sagged down!” (By now she was yelling.) “And they are white fruit of the looms with the elastic band half ripped off!!!”
Unconvinced that hiking my undergarments up was any different than pulling my pants down, I turned to walk back to the car.
As I stepped off the sidewalk, the pain caused from leaning over in the car seat intensified and my back suddenly went out, causing me to collapse down on to all fours. The violence of the fall tore my underwear band the rest of the way so that the band was now completely detached from the rest of the underwear. And although I couldn’t turn around to look, it felt like there might now be some butt cleavage showing.
Meanwhile, a boy with purple hair from the group of criminals had broken off one of the Buick’s windshield wipers, and was using it to whip me across the buttocks as I helplessly crawled back to the car and into the driver’s seat. Several students lined up along the sidewalk had their phones held up and I could only assume they were videoing the whole event.
With a bit of difficulty, I managed to get the car door closed and then quickly drove away with agonizing back pain, two sobbing daughters and a pair of stinging butt cheeks.
After several video versions of the whole incident had been posted and viewed on YouTube, it was decided by my daughters, my wife and the principal that I would no longer be picking the kids up from school.
My oldest daughter, Hannah, has finally started talking to me again, and hopefully Natalie will follow.
I have decided that my level of coolness is what it is, and like nature, shouldn’t be messed with.
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