The Cool Dad

“Yeah dudes, me and the boy were tight.  I didn’t worry about what was going on with him.  It seemed to me he was just a cool kid, having a good time.” 


The cool dad became a cool dad very late in life.  Up until that point, he had just been a cool dude, doing cool stuff like sleeping past noon, attending singer-songwriter shows at local coffee shops, and staying consistently “baked” and hung over.  After his son was born, the cool dad determined that he wasn’t going to let this new responsibility crimp his style.  Far from it, in fact:  he was going to be cooler than ever.

The cool dad raised his son in the coolest way imaginable.  He never married his son’s mother, which he figured was a pretty cool move–why would he want to be tied down like that?–and drifted in and out of his son’s life. When he did find time to “hang” with his son, he introduced him to cool things like the music of Wayne Coyne and the poetry of Charles Bukowski.  By the time his son turned thirteen, the boy had become very cool indeed.  This development pleased the cool dad greatly, since it confirmed that “tight-assed” squares like his old man were completely out of touch when it came to this whole parenting racket.

“See,” the cool dad bragged to his cool friends after one particularly fun week with his now-cool son, “I never have to bust my kid’s balls or get all ‘tight-assed’ with him. Janice gives him shit from time to time, but I’m always there to bail him out.  I mean, last week I taught him how to make a gravity bong out of a soda bottle and got him high as hell.  He skipped his classes for a couple days and we just sat together on the couch, drinking Natty and rapping about all the chicks we’d like to bang.”

What a fine tableau vivant that makes:  the cool dad and the cool son, frozen in the middle of a real serious father-son rap session about vulvas and taints and how to use the tongue.  Were we to conclude the story there, it would appear to constitute a “happy ending.”  Alas, life was to continue for the cool dad and the cool son, to the detriment of both.

The cool son, already too cool for school, stopped going there.  Wandering the streets, he fell in with a crowd of gutter punks who struck him as just about the coolest people around.  This cool crowd, who spent their days eating out of dumpsters and busking for spare change, didn’t get all excited and splooge over themselves about stupid shit like his cool dad did, who was always twisting his cool son’s arm to discuss (i.e., “rap about”) feelings and ideas and whatnot.  The cool son soon realized that the cool dad, when considered carefully and without the least trace of familial sentimentality, was lame as hell.

The lame-as-hell dad chalked up the cool son’s disappearance to youthful “wild oats” and put him out of mind.  He returned to his happy existence of hanging out, getting high, and thinking those deep thoughts that less mindful people never wanted to consider.  When word arrived from the boy’s mother that the cool son had suffered cardiac arrest after a spirited weekend huffing session and was being cared for at the city hospital, the lame-as-hell dad decided against going down to visit him.  He didn’t want to seem like a “tight-assed” authority figure, and besides, the the cool son would figure these things out on his own, much as the lame-as-hell dad had years earlier.

It didn’t take long for everything to get figured out.  A couple of weeks after the cool son had been released from the hospital, a thoroughly desensitized ex-con took it upon himself to slit the cool son’s throat before placing the boy facedown in a urinal next to a scattering of gum wads, tiny bum turds, and cigarette butts.

When questioned about the cool son’s goings-on by a pair of detectives in search of information that might lead them to the murderer, the lame-as-hell dad found himself unable to offer any concrete details.  He did, however, respond to the detectives’ queries with an eerie equanimity that shocked even these 20-year veterans.  “Yeah dudes, me and the boy were tight.  I didn’t worry about what was happening with him.  It seemed to me he was just a cool kid, having a good time.  He’ll grow up on his own, right?  No need to get ‘tight-assed’ like my old man was with me.  But damn, this sure is a fucked-up world.  When I’m chilling, I think about that all the time, and how it’d be so much sweeter if we were more mindful of our shit.  You feel me on that one?”

Picture–Oliver Lee Bateman, The Moustache Club of America

About Oliver Lee Bateman

Good Men Project contributing editor Oliver Lee Bateman is a columnist for Al-Jazeera America and Made Man Magazine. His writing has been featured in Salon, The Atlantic, Johnny America, Stymie: A Journal of Sport and Literature, the U.S. Intellectual History Blog, STIR Journal,, and NAP Magazine. He is also one of the founders of the Moustache Club of America and Penny & Farthing, two blogzines specializing in flash fiction and creative nonfiction that he co-curates with web developer Erik Hinton, medical consultant Nathan Zimmerman, and freelance writers Christie Chapman and J. R. Powell. Oliver is a lawyer as well as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. Follow him on Twitter @MoustacheClubUS or on Google+.

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