Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you're so cool, you're so cool, you're so cool. And sometimes Clarence asks me what I would have done if he had died, if that bullet had been two inches more to the left. To this, I always smile, as if I'm not going to satisfy him with a response. But I always do. I tell him of how I would want to die, but that the anguish and the want of death would fade like the stars at dawn, and that things would be much as they are now. Perhaps. Except maybe I wouldn't have named our son Elvis. |
--Quentin Tarantino, True Romance.
(First a warning, this is more of a rambling essay than a review, because despite its title "True Romance" isn't a romance in any ordinary sense. It's a Tarantino film; if you liked "Pulp Fiction" and can stomach the violence in "Reservoir Dogs", you're likely to enjoy this film very much (some say it's part of a loose trilogy with those other two films,) if you're looking for a light romantic comedy, steer clear.)
When Tarantino frames "You're So Cool" as those "three words" (and has Patricia Arquette's character scribble them on a napkin to Christian Slater as he deftly maneuvers through a high stakes drug deal) he's putting them forward as a modern substitute for or complement to "I Love You", and the more I think about this idea, the more there seems to be to it. In an age of uncertainty and ironic distance, where people have been burned by love before and can't always bring themselves to use the classic, timeworn feeling and phrase, cool works.
Cool is a twentieth century concept. Previous generations might have had things in and out of the current fashion, but nothing was cool. The word has also moved beyond the obvious concept of temperature, as well as the emotional distance that temperature implies. Something can be exciting, as well as excited, and still be cool, although there always needs to be an element of taking things in stride.
We've developed a few types of cool, the temporary and the eternal. The temporary cool is more tied into fads. This is the kind of cool I'm talking about, the cool that will just last; James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Parker, Blue Jeans and white T-shirts. There is a back bone to cool that withstands the passing of the popularity of the moment.
When you find someone who seems that cool, and who thinks that you're cool too, I think there's something that can last. Their coolness is based on so many fundamental things, what they think and feel, what they do, who they are, that if the cool is there, it's all there.
I'm not sure but I think the concept of cool has grown in the past few decades, which makes this use of it work; we've learned that geeks can be cool, that coolness is not the same as popularity, that coolness is not just the thumbs-up Fonz going "Ayyyy", but, he is pretty cool come to think about it. Intense dedication, the ability to see the flipside of things, hardwork, laziness, emotional intensity, emotional distance, they all have their flavors of cool.
So make sure you tell your loved ones; "You're So Cool". Hopefully they think the same about you.