Stay cool, boy

More

One of my least favorite things is the phrase "How cool is that?"  That's partly because I have an Aspie's inclination to take rhetorical questions seriously.  I try to answer them.  (My answers to "what's happening" were especially tragic.)  "How cool is that" is a special challenge for someone with an aspie's inclination because, let's be fair, someone with an Aspie's inclination has no idea what cool is.  Even when they study it as a hard working anthropologist.  

But I think "how cool is that" stupid even as a rhetorical question. Spoken in the recent New York Times TV spot, it begs for a smart alecky answer. And besides that the grey lady should associate herself with someone who thinks this might be a fashionable or interesting thing to say, is, well, come on.

My friend Leora Kornfeld recently told me that she thinks this is a phrase delivered by people who are trying extra hard to be cool. I like this account because it means the speaker isn't cool which raises the charming possibility that they are not asking a rhetorical question after all. They really want to know. "How cool is that" turns out to be looking for the response I'm looking to give.

Now someone says "how cool is that?" I intend to tell them. "Forty percent." "Very cool except in Scandinavian countries." "Totally five minutes ago." As your consulting anthropologist, I recommend you try this too.

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In