I am twenty-three (and one-half) years old, and I can only remember one time that I had the chance to really be really cool.
As a freshman (in high school), I had one major, major crush on a junior. He was tall. He was blond. He was popular, and he was beautiful. He was so beautiful, in fact, that I was positive he didn’t know I even existed.
And honestly? I was okay with that. I mean, I was so busy surviving navigating high school and having fun with my new high school friends that I really wasn’t that interested in proving my existence to him. To tell the truth, most of the time, I hoped he wouldn’t notice me. (I was in the marching band, and we practiced during school hours in 110* heat. That doesn’t exactly lend itself to even imagined romantic moments with your crush.) I was perfectly content to go about my life, fainting drooling seeing him only in the halls at school…but I did sometimes dream of seeing him outside of school when he wasn’t The Hot Baseball Player and I wasn’t The Sweaty Shy Band Geek.
Flash forward a few years, and I was finally going to be a senior. It was June before my last year of high school, and I was working at The Bank. Everyday, I dressed up and put in eight hours just like a real adult. I was finally out of those awkward puberty years, I’d figured the whole make-up thing out, and I had the confidence of a seventeen year old girl at her thinnest, so I was feeling pretty good about life and even better about myself.
One day after work, I ran into the local big box store to drop off some film (remember those days?), and there, behind the photo counter was The Perfect Boy. I was so, so thankful for my grown-up, dress-up job and the fact that I was seeing this boy at the end of a day spent in air conditioning and high heels rather than 100* heat and flip flops. THIS was my chance to live out those daydreams from freshman year. THIS was my time to make the younger me proud. THIS was my chance to finally get it right.
I was determined to play it cool, so I was careful that my face didn’t register a bit of surprise or excitement. I calmly, cooly, and collectedly asked for an envelope to put my film in, and he said, “Oh, I can fill that out for you. It’s Meredith Lastname, right?”
And with that, all my coolness went out the window.
Me: "YOU KNOW MY NAME?!?!?"
Him: “Oh! You probably don’t remember me. We went to high school together. You were just a couple of years behind me.
Me: “Oh, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE! but OMG! I had no idea that you KNEW MY NAME!!!!”
As soon as That Freshman Groupie had come, she was gone again, and The Senior Me shamefully met his gaze, expecting to find laughter, but he was actually more bewildered than amused. I took advantage of his confusion and quickly shoved my film across the counter before he noticed just how much I hadn’t changed.
And then, as if my outburst weren’t enough to seal my fate as perpetually uncool, I tripped–I actually tripped!–in my high heels as I fled.
And I was never cool again.