The Fonz and The Theory of Modern Coolness

fonzie.jpgI was driving to work today and, while stopped at a stoplight, peered in my rearview mirror to see none other than THE Arthur Fonzerelli driving a car directly behind me. Yes, the actor’s real name is Henry Winckler, but I’m not sure if it was actually Henry Winckler back there. All I know is I looked back and saw The Fonz!

Which brings me to today’s subject, coolness.

Growing up, I was never really considered a ‘cool’ kid. In elementary school, I was kind of an all out geek; big Smurf glasses, relatively good grades, sucked up to all the teachers, terrible at sports, and generally awkward.

Then one day, I found out I could sing. This eventually led to me singing in a school assembly (drat those talent encouraging elementary music teachers). I’m pretty sure this made me a more famous nerd, but still not cool. My teachers thought I was quite special, but other students just looked at me as some kind of weird, red-headed, whiteeyebrowed singing freak. (I’m not sure if I actually had white eyebrows back then, because (as I’ve noted before) I didn’t actually discover my white eyebrows until I was 15.)

Then I went to middle school. My family moved between my 6th and 7th grade year, so I was starting fresh; new school, new town, new friends. I ditched the Smurf glasses and got contact lenses, which was probably the only outward change I had. But I think the way I saw myself actually changed. I started to figure out how to be funny and make others laugh. I started being more confident in myself in spite of my quirky personality, my ability to sing along with Sarah Brightman (in her range), my slight lisp on my S’s, and my affinity for useless knowledge and facts no one cared about.

Perhaps my ‘coolness’ peaked in the ninth grade when I successfully ran for a spot on the student council. (I attribute the success to my brilliant marketing campaign “I Want You” with the Uncle Sam on it)

So here’s my Theory of Modern Coolness: confidence. It’s owning who you are, no matter how awkward or different. It’s learning to be comfortable in your own skin.

The biggest misconception associated with attaining coolness is that coolness = conformity; that somehow you have to do what the other cool kids are doing, wear what they are wearing, and talk like they are talking. While this is the way that people often achieve acceptance or fit in with the cool kids group, the truly cool kids stick out. They are unique and different…

..Just look at the Fonz.

12 thoughts on “The Fonz and The Theory of Modern Coolness”

  1. Ok truth be known. W.E. was a nerdius maximus. So much so that his own brothers would make fun of him in private and in public. Poor traumatized kid.

    He was a confirmed momma’s boy and wore checkered slip on shoes when the craze of 200$ air jordans were the only cool thing to wear.

    Yet he DID NOT CARE! I never saw such a thing! Especially since I was at the peak of my coolness in 11th grade and NEEDED to have the 200$ dexter slipon leather shoes with the tassles to be cool. I guess it goes to show that some people go through a good strong phase of coolness (me) and some people are just born cool. (W.E.)

  2. Ha! I had forgotten about Dexters.

    That would be another great extension to this blog; remembering all the stuff that people HAD to have to be cool.

    From elementary I remember Girbaud shirts and pants, Nike Pumps, a small bout of Guess Jeans (for the girls).

    Middle/High school was about Birkenstocks and Mossimo (which is funny since Mossimo is a Target brand now, and I still love their shoes and pants).

  3. I can attest to the mama’s boy. One of my favorite W.E. moment is when the neighbor came by to pick him up for kindergarten. W.E. did not want to go was velcroed to his mother. She could not peel him off. She finally wrangled herself free, literally threw him into the back of the car, slammed the door and the neighbor peeled out, throwing gravel everywhere. As she sped down the road all that could be seen was the wide mouthed, red and teared stained face of heart broken 5 year old pressed to the back window. Good times.

  4. It apears you’ve opened a can of worms, W.E., and all because of the Fonz… But from one ”bottle-capped glasses geek turned cool cat” to another- Nerds have more fun, and generally make more money, regardless of wardrobe.

  5. Yeah (on extension of the mossimo’s being in target) one of the reasons I remember the dexter shoes is because a couple of weeks ago when I went to PAYLESS SHOE SOURCE to get my 3 year old new tennies, there was a big ad in the window saying “DEXTER” I could have died. That was SO the ultimate in status in high school for me and now you could get them for 14.99 at payless. And for even cheaper if it’s BOGO. Question comes to mind, how often are things really quality and how often are they just perceived qualty becasue of store or price.

  6. Response to original post: Hear Hear!!

    Response to comments: It was fifth grade, and I had to have a jean jacket and my own purse. As I recall, I kept my house key and a pencil in it, but I still had to have it!

  7. When sam and i were youngsters and would “play” i was always the storng super hero stud and he was always the scientist what good times my bro and i had. he truly is the fonz of nerds

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