Saturday, February 23, 2008

And then maybe William Shatner and I won't let The Boy hang out with us!

My time will come, just like William Shatner's did. Just you wait and see.

If you ever want to find out just how cool you appear to other people, try this: Tell them that you once tried out as lead singer of a rock band. Their reaction will tell you everything you need to know about the image you present to the world.

I did that, the other day, when The Boy and I were cleaning up after dinner. I was only helping him because Middle was off at work; ordinarily cleanup is their chore, but The Boy gets testy when he's responsible for all clean up because Middle is at her job, and that's the way we run it: if you're home, you do chores, regardless of when you got home and/or when you left. So when Middle is home all day Saturday, eats dinner, and then goes off to work, she gets out of chores. But if The Boy is gone all day and gets home just after dinner, he's got chores. That's the only way we can run it, because to do anything else is to invite a specter of micromanagement and delving into who used how many bowls or cups and which person was the last to touch the Golden Grahams.

Which, as a side note, is now possible with some cereals. For some reason, "Cinnamon Toast Crunch" is offering cereal with fingerprints on it, as some sort of contest. You can, if I understand correctly, examine the cereal and compare the fingerprints and maybe win a prize. I'm not exactly sure why it's a selling point for cereal that it's been touched, let alone touched by someone who we suspect of a crime. I'm also not sure that it's marketing genius to link your cereal to crime scene investigations, since actual crime scene work is tedious and gross. Wow! Bring all that to your breakfast table! Here's what I was sure of: it sort of grossed me out to realize that someone had, even imaginarily, been touching my cereal and that their hands were so dirty that they left actual fingerprints on it.

Back to the chores, issue: Every now and then, when the argument still gets raised that "it's not fair" that someone has to do chores because they were out of town or whatever, I point out to the person (The Boy) that they don't really want to start running the house on a system of to-each-their-own, that if we really ran the house by assigning chores to the people who used the resources and privileges to those who earned them, the person (The Boy) would always come out on the losing end of that stick, because, technically, he has nothing that we didn't give him and consumes an enormous amount of resources. ("Resources" in that sentence means "hot pockets.")

The Boy always fires back his one shot in that war: He bought his TV himself. And he did, with his own Christmas and birthday money, none of it from Sweetie and me. I'm holding off on pointing out that he can't pay for the electricity to run the TV he owns, let alone the house the TV lives in.

So I temper my justice on chores with the mercy of helping out, but I insist that while I help out we listen to my music because all The Boy listens to is Pink Floyd. And some AC-DC. But nothing made in the past 30 years. It's strange, frankly. Check out my playlists and you'll find -- amidst the greatest collection of music ever assembled -- the latest indie music. Look at The Boy's iPod and you'd imagine it's 1978 all over again.

We were listening to my music when a rare oldie came on: "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks. I was singing along with it a bit and The Boy said I wasn't a great singer, and I said that's what he thinks, and pointed out that "You Really Got Me" was one of two songs I sang when I tried out as lead singer of a band back in college.

And The Boy just stared. Then he smirked. "You were going to be a lead singer?" he said.

"Yep," I told him, smugly.

"You?" he asked.

And, with that, no matter how much I suck in my stomach, no matter how jiggy I get with it, no matter how well I do at singing "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" (and I can even hit the high notes sometimes), I knew: I am not cool in the eyes of the world.


I'm not cool yet, because if people saw me as cool, The Boy would not have questioned me as a lead singer. People who are cool could be lead singers in a band. I bet nobody ever looked at Bono and said "You?" when he said he was going to be a lead singer.

But note that I said yet, because I will be cool.

As another side note, let me point this out: while I didn't make it into that band, I did sing lead, twice, for a band: our law school revue band. Two years running, I sang lead on songs including Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime" and some Beck and Better Than Ezra.

There are those who might think that it's the exact opposite of cool to be the lead singer of a band of law students, especially because we changed the lyrics to be more law-student-oriented. To them I say: You'd be right, except that I also danced, which helped out some.

And that brings me to my main point: Yet. I'm not cool yet. But I will be, because of Shatner Motion.

Shatner Motion is my theory that what cool in fact is, is a sort of force that moves and shifts, very slowly-- much like the universe itself, or the jet stream or ocean currents. Under this theory, what is cool generally remains cool over long periods of time: Blue jeans. Elvis. Lime Jell-O. Abe Lincoln. But cool still orbits, still moves, and that's why things become cool and then aren't anymore: Miami Vice. Crystal Pepsi. The Silver Standard. Cool can intersect things, and shift, and things that weren't cool suddenly are: Shatner Motion.

I call it Shatner Motion for two reasons. One, William Shatner is one of my four heroes. And, two, Shatner proves my theory that you can become cool one of two ways: you can seek out cool things -- dress yourself in blue jeans and learn to breakdance -- and you will be cool, for a while-- or you can just do whatever it is you want to do, and wait for cool to catch up with you.

Like William Shatner did. People have made fun of him for as long as I can remember: Star Trek, the spoken-word songs, T.J. Hooker... but look who got the last laugh! If there is a guy who's cool today, it's William Shatner. He does whatever he wants: He records albums, he's on commercials that are awesome, he's on a hit TV show. He's spent his entire career just being himself, and cool slowly rotated around until it caught up to him.

I'm just biding my time, then. You'll see. Laugh all you want, but cool will catch up to me, and then everyone will wish they could be like me.

You could start by writing some law-student-oriented rock songs.

You think it's easy? Try to match Leo note for note. I can.