Archive for June, 2010


Meat and Cheese Patch

Ryan and I were fixing a sandwich when he slapped a meat and cheese sticker on the sleeve of the sweatshirt that I was wearing.  For us it was a spontaneous goofing around response to just being happy that we were all together at Tate and Tammie’s home.  Because of this happy feeling I did not want to remove the sticker so it has remained for the winter and spring months.  I like it, so I have been thinking about the word “cool” since December 24th when I began wearing this meat and cheese sticker. Let me just say that what is cool to one is not always cool to another.

First a little history about the word cool.  When used in its slang form it is an idiom which is a word used in a different form from the dictionary definition.  It was used in literature in the 1840’s to describe unexcited, calm and dispassionate.  In the 1940’s it was revived in the description of Jazz.  It has remained a popular word to describe restrained, relaxed, laid back, detached, cerebral, stylish and excellent.  It was the key word for the “beat generation” in the 1950’s.  Cool, sometimes spelled, “kewl” remains a very popular word choice for a description of about anything you choose. So I was going for the cool look with my sticker.  So far, although comments are being made, I haven’t seen anyone else going with the look, it just isn’t catching on. I guess to be cool one doesn’t really care if anyone else thinks it is cool.  At least that is my cool point of view.  As for responses I have received, there was last Christmas Eve when Linda and I were leaving a department store.  When we got outside a clerk came running out and said that I had stolen the sweatshirt I was wearing.  Since I am cool I was detached, so I was several steps ahead of Linda which resulted in her having to explain my coolness to the clerk.  Does coolness need an interpreter or should it transcend the need to explain?  Peace be with you. Then there was the lady behind me waiting in line to order at Wendy’s.  She remarked that she noticed that I was wearing a new sweatshirt.  I explained that I was wearing a meat and cheese patch just like those worn by smokers to stop the craving for nicotine.  She had a very puzzled look.  I ordered a salad.  Over the last months I have had many people, all women, some I know and some who are strangers, who have tried to tear the sticker off of my sweatshirt.  I know they are trying to help me, embarrassed for me that I still have the store sticker on my clothing.  The word “sweetie” is often used to get my attention just before they attempt to rip it from my sleeve. As for being called “sweetie”, what happened to dude, man, guy, stud?  Save the use of “sweetie” for the home when they are feeding me creamed cereal, creamed corn and jello.  I can’t take being harmless, it just isn’t cool.

Growing up I watched my grandparents pump rain water into pails.  The rain water had run off the roof of our house, into gutters, then to down spouts and into an underground cement holding area called a cistern.  Once the pails were filled they would carry them, one in each hand along a narrow sidewalk, up three steps and then a short distance to the milk house where they poured the water into a wringer washing machine to wash their clothes.  This did not look cool to me.  My mother used an automatic washing machine so why not grandma?  I was confused because I respected their thoughts and ideas but I also felt like they should modernize.  Never the less they carried the rain water until they were in their 80’s, then they gave in to the automatic washer.  What I didn’t realize at that time was how much they respected and cherished that rain water and the importance of good stewardship towards the earth.  Pumping the rain water was an act of saving the water in the well and the electricity to pump it out of the ground.  They didn’t take for granted what all of us for too long of time have expected, demanded and required;  a never ending supply of fresh good water.  Forty years ago I held a sign and walked through campus with other students to celebrate the first Earth Day.  The sign read something like, “Save Our Planet”.  At that time I didn’t connect the dots with what my grandparents had tried to teach me.  They didn’t hold a sign, that would have been too conventional.  They lived it, and tried to stay ahead of progress.  This year during Earth Day there was discussion about using rainwater for gardening and in our daily living.  Last summer at the Kickapoo Country Fair in LaFarge Wisconsin I saw systems for sale to collect rainwater.  Were my grandparents ahead of their time?  Was the act of water conservation that was used by my grandparents cool?

Be cool

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