off to the races
There is no trickle down when it comes to cool. Rising tides do not lift all boats equally. Some, particularly in high school, sit on the shore and never touch the cool waters of popularity.
The only boat further from the water than Al was Ed. Their names were actually Allen and Edward and they would have both preferred to be called Allen and Edward but their peers could barely bring themselves to utter the one syllable that would let them know they were being discussed let alone two.
Al sincerely appreciated Ed. Not just because he was the only one in the school ignored more than he was, but because he found Ed wildly funny.
Which, the case could be made, he was. The problem was that he was crushingly shy. And physically weak-looking. His whole demeanor oozed weakness.
But his sense of humor was brutal and Al was the only one who got to hear it.
Looking back, Al remembered the day they went to the racetrack as one of his favorite memories of his youth. Now granted, there wasn’t a lot of competition but it was still a treasured afternoon.
There were ten races that day and Al had brought a hundred dollars. Ten dollars to wager on each race.
Cool is a funny thing. It ebbs and flows and changes shape depending on the audience and time and day and location and, well, about every other variable you can imagine. Having Ed around made Al feel cool.
He strode around that day feeling cool and making wagers and losing every one of them.
Just before the tenth race, sitting at the refreshment area, Ed looked at Al and said the following; “It would be weird if the private parts of dogs looked identical to the private parts of a woman.”
Al looked at him. Just looked at him.
“Every time they walked into a room it would be uncomfortable for everyone” Ed continued after a few seconds of thought.
Al continued to stare.
“I bet there would be guys who fucked them” Ed finished with a flurry.
Soon afterwards Al remembered to breath.
Ed finished his burgers. They were the little burgers that came eight to a bag.
Looking down at the racing form it was Al’s turn to speak. There was a horse called Doggy Style going off at 50-1 in the finale.
“Ed, let me tell you something. I have been betting safe picks all day and I have nothing to show for it. I’m putting the entire ten dollars on Doggy Style. You want to know why?”
Ed, swallowing, nodded his approval.
“Because why not.”
Ed, his throat finally clear to respond, decided to once again go with a nod.
“We’ve been cool this whole time. This whole fucking time. All these years we’ve been cool and we didn’t even appreciate it. You’re the coolest damn kid I know and if I’m your friend then that makes me cool as well.”
Ed, seeing how successful his previous nodding had been, stayed the course.
“I know with absolute certainty that Doggy Style will win. I know it in my bones because I finally realize how fucking cool we are and even the universe will bow and tremble before us and allow me to leave five hundred dollars richer.”
Al strode to the cashier and made the requisite wager and then went on to tell Ed how the following few minutes will change their lives.
Doggy Style won by two lengths. For those of you unfamiliar with horseracing a length is a large amount of space and two lengths is almost twice that. I realize that in any story involving the uncool it is important to have them lose otherwise you risk being an uncool storyteller but I can only relate what happened.
From that day forward Al was cool. Once he was aware of it suddenly everyone else caught on. He went on to do great things in the field of medical device sales. On the downside, he lost track of Ed after college and could only hope that Ed ended up as cool as Al thought he was.
I would like to say that Ed ended up being a breeder of championship horses to complete some sprawling metaphor but I really don’t know.
I’m not a cool storyteller.