Never lose your cool

My brother grabbed the chrome knob of our Buick’s radio and cranked it up, hoping Mom wouldn’t complain. From the back seat, I could hear the grinding voice of Ted Nugent and see my brother’s elbow jerk to the rhythm of his air guitar.

“I just don’t get it,” Mom piped up over the screeching sounds, “Why on Earth would a ‘cat scratch a beaver?’ That just doesn’t make sense ecologically.”

My brother and I were mortal enemies, but he grinned at me to share our mutual opinion that Mom was totally uncool.

She was notorious for embarrassing us by botching lyrics and doing cheesy “mom dances” to our favorite songs. My brother and I shriveled in humiliation when Mom pointed her thumbs alternately into the air to the beat, or did the Mashed Potato to Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” or KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Shake, Shake, Shake Your Booty.”

She must’ve been born uncool, we thought, and were thankful that we would never suffer the same fate.

But then, life played its cruel joke, and I became a middle-aged mom.

Although fully entrenched in denial, I sometimes get the feeling that, much like my mother before me, I have no idea what’s cool anymore. I reluctantly allow my kids to control the radio on our way to school, and am forced to listen to the repertoire of new rock alternative and pop tunes that only serve to keep me from hearing the news and weather. As cool as I think I am, I’m just realizing who Foo Fighters and Train are. It’ll take me another five years before I can wrap my mind around Mumford & Sons, Fun and Young the Giant.

Recently, our kids wanted to go to a nearby outdoor concert featuring a band named Switchfoot. All our friends were going, so despite the fact that we couldn’t identify the music off the top of our heads, we jumped on the bandwagon like groupies. The morning of the concert, my husband and I figured we’d better do our research. With the assistance of our teenage daughter, we played snippets of Switchfoot’s songs on iTunes.

“Hey, I’ve heard this one before!” I said, and my husband and I gyrated to the beat while our kids rolled their eyes. “Oooo, this one’s actually pretty good,” my husband exclaimed upon hearing another familiar song. “’Yea, hmmm, uhuh, da, da — HEY, we are the Dark Horses!!’” he belted at the top of his lungs.

Later at the concert, my husband and I were ready to prove that we hadn’t lost our cool. Pairing middle-aged dance moves with inaccurate lyrics, we appeared to be having a blast. An hour later, my husband asked me to search my purse for ibuprophen for a pain in his lower back. Another hour later, we began to yawn and complain about the noise. Finally, in the last hour of the concert, we just wanted to go home, take our fiber tablets, and go to bed.

No matter how obvious it is that we’re not cool anymore, we middle-aged parents never want to face reality.

“Sounds like a xylophone. What’s the name of this band, Honey?” I asked my teenage daughter last week while driving our minivan to school.

“Gotye,” she answered with a slight eye roll.

Sheesh. Kids these days just don’t know good music. Why would anyone name a band ‘Goiter’ anyway? I thought to myself, secure in the knowledge that I’d always be cool.

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Comments: 8

  1. energywriter June 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm Reply

    Hey, you don’t know cool until try to Twist and/or Stroll to “Lost my ride home, lost my iPhone…” whoever sings that. Great story, Lisa. All parents can relate. Funny too.

  2. Mike Farley June 4, 2012 at 9:51 am Reply

    I’m moonwalking to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” as I type this.

  3. Simon June 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm Reply

    One of my favorites Lisa. This is so funny and bridges the gaps between cool, uncool, and think we are still cool flawlessly. Mine aren’t quite old enough to cast judgement on me yet but I know it is only a matter of time. Thanks for the great laugh.

  4. lauras50by50 June 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm Reply

    I don’t even try. Even in the privacy of my own home my girls roll their eyes when I dance! My daughter has seen Switchfoot a few times…always with a cooler mom than I am!

    • Lisa Smith Molinari June 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm Reply

      My kids roll their eyes too, but secretly, they think it is hilarious when I dance and they imitate my moves. Once the class clown, always the class clown. I’ve never been cool, but if I can make someone laugh, I think THAT’s cool.

  5. Clara June 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm Reply

    My husband and I know we are old because we think the music on the radio station we used to listen to five years ago now is full of whiny, adolescent bands who can’t sing and have funny names. My Potato Experience, and other such nonsense. When we were young, music was cool.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari June 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm Reply

      See, I’ve never even heard of this potato band of which you write. I have turned into my mother and just like a catchy tune and good beat.

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