It's not the F-word, that's for sure. After all, the F-word is nothing but a crude term for what can be a loving act and exhilarating experience, a connection that is responsible for all life as we know it. Not one of us would be here without the F-word.
Maybe the R-word is the worst. It is the cruel, ugly, violent version of the F-word.
Another candidate might be Hell. Although it's generally considered a fairly mild curse word -- I even heard my mother say it once or twice! -- it in fact refers to the worst condition, the worst situation, that the human mind can imagine. Some people soften it and say, "Heck." I remember when my very proper fifth-grade teacher got frustrated or mad, she would smile knowingly and say, "Oh, Hades!"
But from my experience, the worst four letters put together in the English language is the word, "Cool."
|As cool as ice|
|Cool as a cucumber|
You don't think so? So why did you start smoking all those years ago?
A few young women may have started smoking to lose weight (although the only reason they wanted to lose weight was to be cool). I started smoking to keep up with my older brother and his friends. They were soooo cool, I could barely stand it.
It took me two decades to quit smoking entirely, after many attempts, many false starts, and years and years of "cheating." All that work -- and possibly shortening my life -- just because when I was 15 years old I was trying to be cool.
How many teenagers start drinking because they think it's cool? By the time I got to college, it wasn't cool to drink anymore. It was cool to take drugs. It was kind of cool to smoke marijuana, but the real cool kids took speed or mescaline. Fortunately, I was never cool enough to try the hard drugs. But I had a few friends who did -- and it didn't do them any good.
I admit there is a positive aspect to coolness. Playing sports is usually considered cool, and many aspects of sports are good for us. In a few, select groups it's considered cool to be smart or talented. But how many young people want to be writers or actors or musicians, because they think it's cool -- and then end up disappointed, unemployed and scrambling to get their lives back on track when they're 30?
How many people drive gas-guzzling, air-polluting SUVs or high-performance sports cars, because (whether they admit it or not) they think it's cool?
How many people end up in bad relationships because they think the person is cool, or hang around with mean, nasty people because they're the in-crowd?
|Coolest of them all|
Remember Karen Carpenter? She wanted to be so cool, and so skinny, that she starved herself to death. Okay, now I'm getting a little far afield. But isn't there some element of anorexia, as well as other behavioral diseases, that stems from people wanting to be more beautiful, more loved ... more cool?
Trying to be cool leads many of us to do stupid things -- sometimes they're funny, sometimes they turn out to be tragic. But one advantage of growing older, I think, is that we can give up trying to be cool. Although, why else am I on facebook? So maybe I'm wrong.
Which reminds me of the time, back when I was in 8th grade . . . hmmm, I don't know if I want to tell that story. Maybe next time.