How to be Cool Over 40

After a lot of research and hundreds of interviews, surveys and focus groups, I’ve compiled the following to help those of us with heartbreaking issue of Middle-aged Coolness Degeneration (M.A.D.)

Get a Cool Job: It’s never too late to make a career change. Cool jobs include rock star, gigolo, CSI investigator and fireman. Not cool jobs are things like Nigerian heir, public servant, street mime, David Suzuki[1] or mayor.

Look Cool: This is the most important one and the most difficult. General rule of thumb is to spend a lot of time, money and effort on hair and shoes and everything else will fall into place

With cool hair you can pull off the occasional fashion faux pas and still look cool. To have cool hair you need to spend a lot of money on a good stylist and lots of products and hair hardware. The aim is to have your hair look so natural and unfussy that it looks like you can’t even be bothered combing it, washing it or even looking at it.

The next thing you need are excellent shoes. You should have lots of shoes and they should all be expensive and should not hurt to walk in. They should not be designed to make you trip, stumble and fall a lot. You should also be able to walk in them on most terrains, so you are not defeated should the time comes that you might have to cross a lawn.

Clothes are tricky. An entire post or two could easily be devoted to middle-aged do’s and don’ts when it comes to clothes, but alas my research hasn’t taken me that far yet. In the meantime, be aware that not cool includes trendy fads or stores like Wal-Mart, Zellers, Giant Tiger, Northern Reflections or Tabi International. The easiest thing to do for now is to pick someone everyone thinks is cool, who’s kind of your age, style and size and copy them exactly.

Get Cool Teeth: In 2008, it is imperative that your teeth are so straight and blindingly white that they look like dentures. If you can’t afford months in the dentist chair to have your real teeth bleached, orthodontured and veneered, then you might as well get fake ones.

Get Cool Gadgets: It’s way cool for people of any age to have a lot of high-tech gadgets AND to know how to really use them. That includes portable gadgets, car gadgets and home/office gadgets. Not cool is to brag about how you can’t even operate your VCR or to make fun of youngsters texting because it’s all so mystifying to you.

Be in a Band: There’s nothing cooler than being in a band, cutting a CD, playing a gig, jamming or talking about how you’ve just done or are about to do any of those things. Being the front man/woman, playing guitar, bass or keyboards are cool and being the drummer is especially cool. Playing accordion, recorder or air guitar, not so much. Karaoke is also not cool unless you’re doing it in a mocking way and not because deep down you think you’ll be discovered. Often it’s hard to know for sure.

Stay away from Malls: Malls are cool for teenagers, not grown-ups. Grown-ups shop in stores staffed by grown-ups where the music is eclectic and funky rather than just ear-splittingly loud. Grown-up stores have doors, not gates that slide down from the ceiling. Also never go any place that makes you line-up to get food. Never line up for food.

Talk Cool: Keep up with current issues, trends, ideas. Don’t start all your sentences with “in my day…” Don’t make grammatical errors that will make people wince. Talking like a hillbilly or a teenager isn’t cool. Get a pleasant voice. There is nothing more uncool than a voice that’s shrill, grating or sounds like you should be clearing your throat before speaking.

Walk Cool: Ever see those executive types in their expensive suits who spend 98% of their time sitting at desks and board tables so they have big barrel chests, bulging abdomens and wide heinies and skinny, spindly legs? When they get up to walk they lumber along on their underused pins kind of like a robot. Don’t be like that. Make videos of yourself walking in the privacy of your home. Don’t go out until you’re sure have mastered a cool strut.

Hang out with Cool People: Cultivate friendships with people who are cool and coolness is bound to rub off on you. Ditch friends who drive mini-vans, spend their weekends at Red Lobster, Swiss Chalet or Ponderosa. Also, don’t hang with anyone who’s into creative anachronism, Home Depot, Oprah or the Starland Vocal Band.

Be an Activist: Even the dorkiest dork immediately attains an aura of Cool Squared if he/she protests stuff. Joining things like PETA, the Green Party, Friends of the Earth, and Sweatshop Watch are way cool. Uncool groups would include Real Women, NRA, or the Stephen Harper Secret Cabal of Good, Clean Fun.

[1] Don’t get me wrong, I love, love David Suzuki and all the wondrous things he hath wrought. It’s just his recent TV ads are really creeping me out


27 responses to “How to be Cool Over 40

  1. When did Creative Anachronism stop being cool?

    I’m totally with you on David Suzuki’s new tv ads. All the cool kids have started calling him the Green Creepster.

  2. Zoom – ha ha.. when did CA stop being cool… good one! Only Trekkies are marginally less cool. And, poor old DZ. He needs to find a new agent.

  3. Waycool.

    And yes, finding David Suzuki in your basement to lecture you– dumb Nean dert(h)al beer swiller!– on wise energy use.


  4. I’m hip to your whole shizzle, XUP.

    However, as someone who recently left his 40s, gracefully kicking and screaming, using words like “whippersnapper”, “ne’er-do-well” and “rapscallion”, I must say I agree with the car commercial that says rather trying to be cool, we should just be.

    The risk is that you turn into an old fart trying to look cool, and that’s just pitiful. Little Bro Dan reminds me of that, every time I mention wanting to buy a PT Cruiser. He tells me that if I do, to make sure I get the faux wood panel sides.

    Young whippersnapper might have a point.

  5. I’m screwed.

    Never have been cool, and now, over 40 I just don’t have the energy anymore.

  6. I despise that car commercial that says rather than trying to be cool we should just be. It’s trying too hard to be cool, and it doesn’t say ANYTHING about the car it’s selling, just about the image it’s projecting.

  7. Ivan:The ad where Suzuki pounds a hole in this poor inbred couple’s doublewide is just embarrassingly stupid; the one that implies Canadians are too moronic to understand energy conservation unless is couched in terms of beer is appalling; the one where he’s apparently abducted a bunch of primary school children from a mine shaft and has hidden them out in a treehouse where they now whisper secretly together… that’s just creepy. I can’t understand a word those kids say and the only thing I can make out that Suzuki says is, “please call me David.”

    Bob – PT Cruiser is as cool as a Pacer used to be.

    Jazz – with a name like Jazz, you’re automatically cool.

    Zoom – YES! Mocking people for trying hard to be cool isn’t cool, but despising people for mocking people who try too hard to be cool is pretty cool unless you’re saying that concern for image isn’t cool, in which case that would be bogus because the whole cool gestalt is about image.

  8. Can’t make out a word Suzuki’s little friends are saying? Time for a hearing check, XUP?

  9. “Also, don’t hang with anyone who’s into creative anachronism, Home Depot, Oprah or the Starland Vocal Band.” I love it! Oprah lost whatever coolness she might have had, sometime in the last decade.

    I’m waaaay past cool, all the way to hot.

    Not! 🙂

  10. Bandobras – Ooops – there are some fine incontinence products on the market to help with that.

    Bob – WHAT?

    JB – right back atcha

    Josie – you ARE a hottie

  11. I just saw your blog and it is great!

    I was laughing at your post and thinking about an incident that happened with our former Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack (who I referred to as “Vilasic” for the longest time without realizing I was mispronoucing the poor guy’s name – definitely not cool!!).

    One day at a press conference Gov Vilsack said he had never emailed anyone. He was trying to be humble and so on, but the press jumped all over him for the next week. How could anyone in this day and age not be familar with email?!

    The first thing a lot of us do every day is check our email or go online. Here was the governor of a state saying he had no idea what email was all about! My guess is that he was trying to say he was not overly proficient with computers, etc. but it came out all wrong and he never really corrected the image.

    Take care and I look forward to visiting your blog again.

  12. Russell – Thanks for visiting! Governor Tom…definitely not cool

    Robin – Of course! goes without saying, but thanks for saying it anyway.

  13. harumph. i drive a minivan. but i have social distortion license plate holders?
    the part about stores with doors that pull down made me spit out my tea – i have to avoid all those kinds of stores now because the pants there give me a severe case of the muffin top, and that’s not cool.

  14. I love this post! My sister-in-law and I were just discussing the slippery slope of middle-age fashion. She said she refuses to even run to the corner store in elastic waist pants because the next thing you know, you’re wearing them all the time and that is just BAD.

  15. Hahahaha… Brilliant! I think you’re pretty damn cool… No matter what you do. Although you’ve certainly mastered the hair and shoes bit.

  16. Meanie – sorry the only cool vans are VWs or Chevy vans all kitted out. Minivans – never. Muffin top? I haven’t heard that one… must look it up.

    Kimberly – haven’t you heard? Elastic waist pants are back (see Lululemon)

    Andrea – thanks babe. I don’t aspire to coolness, but I would like to remain more or less current. I don’t get people who somehow decide they like a decade so much they’re going to spend the rest of their lives in it.

  17. “I don’t get people who somehow decide they like a decade so much they’re going to spend the rest of their lives in it.”

    HEY! I resemble that remark.

  18. Glasses are just as important as shoes & hair. Get a pair from the current decade, but don’t cross over into trying-too-hard territory unless you are very good looking.

  19. Cool job? Decidedly not.

    Cool looks? Generic work clothes, paired off with MEC mountain climbing clothes… Not especially cool

    Cool teeth? I defend my somewhat crooked but unmodified teeth. When you beget children by someone who has had all manner of braces and treatments, you have no idea how expensive it will be to render your children non-hideous.

    Cool gadgets? A few… and lots of knowledge about how to use them.

    Band? No chance.

    Avoid malls? This, I am extremely happy to do.

    Talk cool? Hard for me to assess of myself. External analysis required.

    Hang out with Cool People? These have been proving quite challenging for me to locate in Ottawa. They must be out there but, as a recently graduated student, I don’t know where to look outside clubs and classes.

    Activism? Definitely. Up with gay marriage. Down with coal power…

  20. Milan – I think you’re pretty cool. You always have interesting stuff to say and you think circles around most topics. Thanks for playing the “Cool over 40” game

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