I think every generation has it’s own icons of cool. The way they talk. The way they dress. The way they interact. My generation was no different. When I was in high school I wore my jeans low on my hips (not to be confused with todays falling off low), held up with a garrison belt with the buckle off to one side. My shirts were mostly gray and pink and the collars were always turned up. My hair was combed wet and slicked back. I did not have the popular D.A., but it was close. I was cool, or so I thought. And if I wasn’t I at least fit in. And ladies, who among you never had a poodle skirt or penny loafers.
As I got a little older, my clothes changed to more traditional attire and ‘fitting in’ went through several iterations as styles changed and years passed. All the while, without really thinking about it, I was tweaking my appearance to mimic what was considered cool at the time.
But cool is not just what you wear or how you look. It is also how you act. Cool is being able to tell a joke successfully. Cool is how you carry yourself. Cool in being the person people want to be around. There are so many facets to being cool and we all strive to possess as many of them as possible. But even the coolest among us sometimes crash and burn. We experience uncool moments that go to our core and remind us who we really are. I remember one such experience from many years ago that still evokes chagrin within me.
I was a fledgling manager for a major company, probably in my late twenties. I worked within the administration segment of the business, providing support to the sales team. On occasion, I would be called upon to make field trips to ride with salesmen and meet our customers or to address specific problems with our operations. One of these trips entailed flying to Omaha Nebraska at the request of the sales manager. He wanted me to accompany him on a visit to some customers in Norfolk, Nebraska. When I arrived at the airport, Bob was waiting for me and upon entering his car, he suggested we have some lunch before driving north.
I had known Bob passingly for some time. He was a single guy in his thirties. He wasn’t handsome, but had an athletic build and a pleasant demeanor. He also dressed expensively and, within his circle of friends was considered a player. Therefore, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found we were going to have lunch at the Playboy Club. I didn’t even know there was one in Nebraska. I immediately began to freeze up. Today, I was going to meet a real Bunny. Time to turn on the cool.
Upon entering, we were greeted by a bunny at the hostess station. Bob showed her his membership key, however, it wasn’t apparently necessary as virtually every bunny that walked by knew him. I for one was in awe. I was just glad none of the bunny’s addressed me directly as I was really struggling with the cool thing. Definitely not an easy thing to pull off while standing next to Bob while wearing my best polyester suit. I definitely did not exhibit the traits of a high roller. Our bunny showed us to our table. It was on a semi circular mezzanine next to a chrome rail, overlooking a larger dining area below. From there, I had a birds eye view of most of the club.
Our table, however was small. More of a cocktail table. Probably about a yard in circumference. It was set simply with a white table cloth, a bud vase, and silverware. Our bunny placed our menus on the table as we prepared to be seated. That is when it happened. I slid my chair out from under the table, failing to notice that a corner of the tablecloth was draped over my seat. Without looking I sat down and successfully managed to clean everything off the table. I wanted to hide in the restroom until Bob was ready to leave. Needless to say, I don’t think I have ever, before or after, been that embarrassed.
It’s funny now. Most things like that are. I just knew that I was going to hear about my faux pas from my colleagues for a long time, if not forever. But I have to say this about Bob. Player or not, he apparently never told anyone about my moment of fame. I say fame because I had pulled off what would be thought of as an impossible feat. For one moment, not one eye in the entire club, was looking at a bunny.