On a cloudy, rainy day, find this track: Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Pour yourself a Dalwhinnie 15 (Single Malt Scotch, 1 cube of distilled ice). Do this alone. You’re close to being . . . cool.
You can’t declare yourself “cool.” It’s an anointing.
Cool is by definition: fashionably attractive or impressive; calmness; composure. Everyone isn’t cool, and if you try to attain it…you will miss. It’s effortless. Cool is 24/7, in the face of challenges that would unruffle the average man—and there are very, very cool women but this post is reserved for men.
Cool has not changed over time. As a man, understanding the true definition of cool, simply put, makes you a better man.
Cool transcends time and does not allow for “uncool” moments. Public meltdowns and scandals are NOT cool…but shedding a tear…is. Cool in the past, and cool now? Has not changed; it’s probably harder to be cool today with social media forcing out our emotions and feelings at all ends, but handled masterfully, you can even heighten your cool, like David Bowie (face it, he even died cool).
There is no need to provide you with a historical perspective on who is uncool. To say any more than just their names may bring them some relevance and when you are cool, you cannot allow that. Caligula, Napoleon, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Richard Nixon, Rudy Giuliani and now Donald Trump –Never, ever will they be allowed into the Temple of Cool.
Historical cool is exemplified by God (do you see all the madness that man participates in and he still lets the sunshine on the good and the evil? That’s cool), Jesus Christ (OK he lost it that day he threw the money-changers out of the Temple, but other than that he maintained his cool), Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Oskar Schindler, Anwar el-Sadat, Robert Kennedy, Harry Belafonte, all historic, quiet, extraordinarily righteous cool.
The history of cool is best described by the Italians: La Bella Figura, literally “the beautiful figure”, is an essential philosophy that rules the lives of Italians. Bella figura can mean many things, but at its core is presentation…how one looks, how one comports oneself, how one makes the best possible impression in all things. Beauty is revered in Italy, whether expressed grandly through art and architecture, or more simply by the perfect cut of a suit. Bella figura goes well beyond image, visual beauty and presentation…it also is defined by behavior: knowing how to properly and graciously interact with others in any social or public situation.
Exhibiting good manners, tact, and gentility is an essential component of “cutting a beautiful figure. That, my friends, is the essence of the definition of true COOL.
Gianni Agnelli, the Italian industrialist who ran Fiat during the jet-set age was one of the most stylish men of the 20th Century. Don’t know him? (Not cool.) He was so cool, a relative still has his old custom made suits and combined with his own personal style….he inherited the crown.
Cary Grant (Just watch him in “To Catch a Thief”), Idris Elba can display class and grimy cool on command. Barack Hussein Obama insanely cool, have you seen him exit Air Force One? Or tackle negative claims and the stupidity of Congress or the gun lobby (cool as ice). Michael Jordan (quiet, he let his game show you who he was and didn’t gloat). Colin Powell 12th Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Bush and Clinton Administration is unflappable, he was cool then and now.
Examples of youthful cool who if they stay on the path they will continue to gather “cool points?” Colin Kaepernick, a man making his point and could care less how others feel about it (He knows his rights even if others don’t), Jamie Foxx (he can act for Quentin Tarantino and sing with Barbra Streisand, how cool is that?). Kendrick Lamar, just listen to the flow of his lyrics and his politics. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge channels his Mum (The late Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales) into a level of cool and charity so international you cannot dislike him as a member of the lucky sperm club (how can you hate this guy?) and my personal favorite Jesse Williams (from Greys Anatomy) activist, actor, educator who has really channeled the brilliance of a Harry Belafonte and flipped it into a new model of responsibility and grace in light of so many modern day atrocities. Like him or not, he speaks his mind with calm and aplomb.
Cool transcends sexuality and sexual orientation.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple is insanely cool. On May 17, 2016, The Senate confirmed the nomination of Eric Fanning to the position of Army secretary, making him the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service. Have you seen him preside over the most macho institution on the planet? Anderson Cooper of CNN is cool, down-to-earth, and looks great in a suit.
Cool cannot be confused with swagger.
President Obama is cool, but on some occasions, he breaks out his swagger—walks or behaves in a very confident and typically assertive way. Society throws the word around and sometimes confuses it to be the same as cool, but it isn’t. It becomes exceptional when you combine cool with a swagger in small doses then you can obtain Obama-like cool, primarily because you can “blow shit up”…but you won’t, because a tweet doesn’t piss you off.
Cool cannot be defined by machismo.
Macho—defined as showing aggressive pride in one’s masculinity— is not cool. In fact, macho is the least cool thing there is. It’s exactly why Donald Trump is having a hard time because the pride that machismo delivers (unchecked) can get in the way of your humanity. Degrading people who are different from you, who don’t look like you or have your experience is not cool, it just shows an immature soul. You can be cool, you can be a man and yet you can have your teenage daughter paint your fingernail purple as a simple marker of your #PutTheNailinIt vow to end domestic violence – to start a conversation about domestic violence and shatter the silence that so often allows it to thrive. Besides, aren’t we reminded we are men every time we stand over a toilet or a stall to release our bladders?
My personal example of cool? I was in Court years ago with my ex-wife calling me everything but the son of god and wanted another increase in child support. I was in court four times that year and the judge remembered me. I said nothing negative about her, or to her. When she finished, the judge asked me my thoughts. I said, “I would be glad to add any additional support that the Court feels is fair in order to care for our child.” He calmly looked at me and looked at her, and thanked me for being so calm in the face of a blistering attack and reminded my ex—in front of me—that each time I was there, I never disparaged her. The judge granted a new order and upon leaving the building, the judge saw her yelling at me (again) at the elevator. He gave her a steely gaze, and literally told her, “Never bring this man to my court again.” She never did, and it was…cool. My child support, from that point forward, increased only according to the standard cost of living.
Even cooler, as my son gets older, he tells me, “Mom says terrible things about you, but you don’t seem to be what she says you are. How come you never say anything bad about her?” I replied, “that’s your Mother; I will never say anything negative about her because we were once deeply in love, and somehow that is gone. But I still love her, and we love you, and in the end, that is what matters.”
One of my moments where I know, I was cool.
Want a simple example of cool to rule your life? Think about leaving the office, getting ready to go have a beverage or a cocktail (when you’re cool…it’s not a “drink”) and while in your car, you get a call from your lady who is having a bad day. Men who possess “cool” will divert from the local pub or hotel establishment, pick up the child from daycare, if you have one, ensure that said child is fed and perhaps bathed, cook the dinner, make the cocktails at home, run her a bath and have dinner ready for her when she arrives late.
That my friend is cool. In the end, isn’t it her opinion that matters?
Photo credit: Getty Images