COOL

At first glance, I didn’t think he was cool

I scanned the committee, and none of them looked cool

I wondered what I was getting myself into

“They all look like nerds!” he exclaimed, surveying the hotel lobby

At the conference we were attending (before The Big Bang Theory made nerds cool)

“Careful,” I replied, “You’re going to spend your whole career with the likes of them.”

“Don’t tell me that.  I can’t hear that now.”

I did an online search of an old professor for whom I was a T.A. and was on familiar terms.

He was the coolest guy I ever knew and at a party in his house,

I noticed a book of French fabliaux in the bathroom

Now a well-published professor of Indology and a yoga teacher in Santa Barbara

Which I think is about as cool as you can get

But Carol looked at his picture, with his wild hair, and said she didn’t think so.

“You think Dave’s cool?!” my roommate to my other roommate—I the accusative case.

Carol grew up on a farm, which makes her as natural as a person could be

And nature is not involved with that which is cool

We may view a lion or a wild boar as regal

But we wouldn’t see them as possessed of what is cool

Nature has no airs, no trendy styles, no current fashions, is no poseur: the ground

Carol is genuine, real, authentic, natural, like the beanfields she hoed

Like the Tao’s breath of the valley spirit, the uncarved wood

And being together with Carol, what is cool evaporates like mist in the mountain valley

Time wears down that which is cool,

As age steals beauty of a certain kind

Jobs can have the effect of cool

“I was learning to drive a rig; I went for status.”

A big pick-up truck will suffice for cool if you can’t drive a rig

And workers of jobs that are cool look down on others

“It’s your fault that 20-somethings don’t want to work and live in their parents’ basement.”

“You academics are to blame for all that political correctness and the ‘woke’ movement,”

He, to me, and then vanished into his conspiracy theories

Wearing his ball cap; me, the accusative case, wearing my beret, he resented

“I’ll bet he doesn’t even work on his own car,” I heard someone declaim

My friend from Harvard laughed and laughed when he heard it

Resentment piles upon resentment as the professions pay

Little respect to pipe-fitters—which all comes down to a form of cool—

Hip-Hop booming from the speakers in their BMWs as they pass you on the road

I’ve never noticed a pig looking down on a horse

A rabbit insult a mouse; a mouse, a groundhog

An oak, a poplar; a flower, a thistle

Nor an ocean wave ostentatious, a thunder cloud pretentious

And when I walk in the woods, I’m not a Harvard graduate

And Carol opened the chicken-wire gate and walked around with the hens and roosters

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