Don’t tell me what cool is. I know what cool is.
Cool is putting on a backwards cap with a yin-yang emblem dangling around your neck. It’s wearing three layers of flannels, with one wrapped around your waist reverse-kilt style, and a t-shirt with Kurt Cobain aiming a gun at your face. It’s sporting holes in your baggy jeans and a beaten-up leather jacket while smashing a guitar that you can’t afford to smash. That was cool. I was cool. You can’t tell me otherwise.
Before that, it was the Cobra Kai, dressed as skeletons, throwing Daniel LaRusso and his stupid bike down a hill. It was James Dean, The Fonz, Eddie Van Halen, and Snoopy in sunglasses. Don’t tell me what cool is. As I mentioned, I already know.
I figured that by the time my kids were rounding the age of teen angst, my understanding of acceptable coolness would be off-the-charts. It had been a slow build from doo-wop to grunge rock and the future looked angry. I, as someone who wore all the items mentioned earlier, would surely “get it.” I embodied angst in my youth and would know cool when it smacked me across the face of adulthood. There’s nothing that could shock me.
Then she showed me the Amazon link.
Daddy, this is what I want to get.
I squinted my cool forty-something year old eyes. I could actually see it, but I couldn’t believe it.
Why is this water bottle $45?
Her tone didn’t break.
It’s a hydroflask.
I can see that. It says it here. But it’s a water bottle. Does it like tell time or something? Bluetooth and all that?
No. It’s a hydroflask. I need a hydroflask. That’s what kids have now.
I still wasn’t getting it. In fact, I still don’t get it. My daughter tried to explain it to me.
Vsco girls have hydroflasks. They hate plastic straws and want to save the turtles. Sksksk.
It sounded like she had done a Mad Libs and added sksksk to the end. At this point, I thought she was messing with me.
Is this a joke?
Still, she persisted. This was not a joke.
No, daddy. It’s real. Vsco girls have hydroflasks. Sksksk and I oop and I oop.
The gibberish was multiplying. By now, it had all gotten to be too much. I was lost and still staring at the Amazon link, searching for any indication that this thermos did anything spectacular. Give me something. A built-in karaoke machine, a candy maker, anything.
Liv, this is just a water bottle. We have like 20 water bottles.
Her frustration had started to boil over like a bowl of straw-turtle soup. She looked at me like I was 100 years old.
It’s not a water bottle. It’s a hydroflask.
Tired of learning that the definition of cool had fallen to such ridiculous depths, I journeyed down the tried and true dad route.
Fine. You want this water flask? You can have it. But you have to pay for it. You have $10 from allowance saved up. So, if you save up the rest, you can pay for it yourself.
Before I finished the word “yourself”, she was gone from the room. She returned within minutes holding her bank, the contents of which she dumped on the floor. Inside was various forms currency collected from birthday cards, relatives, and found along the street. She handed me a wad of singles, one five, and a few dollar coins. Some had Millard Fillmore on them. I didn’t even know they made those. It all equaled out to $45.
Are you sure you want to spend all your money on this?
Stop doing that. Fine. I’ll order it.
From the moment I pressed send to the moment it arrived three days later, she constantly asked me when it would be delivered. I figured that by the time it came, she would be over it. She had to be. It made no sense to me.
When it finally hydroplaned itself to my front door, Olivia was freaking out. She had gotten the biggest one that came with a special widemouth top. My “vsco” daughter was over the moon. Me? I had never felt older in my life.
Parents before me may not have understood Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails, but those parents were lame. They were stuck in their own generation. What I thought was cool was so naturally cool. The fact that they didn’t get it was their own fault. My stuff was awesome.
But here I was, in the front seat of my car watching my eleven year old sksksk her admiration for a $45 water bottle and talk about saving the turtles. I mean, I like turtles and all. But, still, I’m not getting it. I don’t think I ever will.
That’s fine. I’m not supposed to, nor do I really want to. I already have a water bottle. I even have a metal one that I keep in my closet filled with batteries and coins. When I drop them in, they make a sound that is slightly similar to sksksk. So, yeah. I guess that’s cool. Ugh. That’s the most dad-like thing I’ve said all morning.
Maybe I’m not cool in the modern-day kid’s sense. I don’t care. This is her time. Sometimes I think children all decide on popular things simply because they know adults won’t understand them. If that’s the case, this generation was successful, because I totally don’t. Just as you start to “get it”, they phase it out. It’s all done to torture us. That’s fine though.
One day, her son or daughter will want to spend $100 on a pencil sharpener that you can brush your teeth with. Her kids will make weird noises as they open it and all their friends will do the same. Then it will be her time to fell old. But hey, at least she’ll be hydrated.