The Coolness Factor

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We all want to be cool. That’s how we grow up, jockeying within our own peer groups to maximize our self esteem. Being cool is well, cool! Now that I’m past sixty years of age, it appears to me (and everybody else) that I’m not all that cool any more. My two teenagers alert me to this sad fact constantly and I guess I’ll just have to get used to it.

When I was a teenager, California was where all the cool people were. That’s where the movie stars all hung out. TV stars too. Johnny Carson relocated the Tonight show from New York City to be closer to all that coolness. In California it was always sunny, everybody had a swimming pool in their back yard and everybody had a wall of amplifiers in the garage for their rock and roll band. You could go downhill skiing one day on fresh powder and take your surfboard to the beach the next day for a day with all those bikini-clad beauties. Then you had a clam bake next to beachside cliffs with a beautiful sunset.
Paradise. I never wanted to live anywhere else after that impression. So, in 1976, just after I finished college, I packed up a beat up old Cadillac to go on my first road trip out west. My cousin fitted out a trailer to haul behind and I set off with him, my brother and my brother’s wife for the trip of a lifetime. Fourteen thousand miles later, after seeing scenic wonder after scenic wonder, I was still most impressed with the golden land of California. So I eventually moved here.
I’ve been living in California now for almost a quarter century and I love the place as much as when I first discovered it. OK, I don’t go surfing every day on the beach with bikini clad women but other than that, California has more than met up to my expectations. It’s cool living here, no doubt.
Heat without humidity, you gotta love that! Which reminds me of where I come from, South Carolina. A beautiful place and a place I frankly wouldn’t mind living again. When I was young it wasn’t cool to me but now that I am older I have more appreciation of how it actually is a cool place (well it’s hot and muggy in the summer and cold in the winter, but we’re not talking about climate here).
Carolina’s “coolness” benefits me in a special way. Whenever I go to a bluegrass event in my adopted state of California, I think I get more respect than I deserve, simply because I can sing the music I grew up on with a knowledge and an authentic accent that is admired. A certain coolness, perhaps. But don’t try to convince my teenagers of that.

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