Way back in 1993 during a blizzard I became an uncle. I was 15 and this would be the first, but not the last, time my sister would give birth. I didn’t know what to expect. Little did I know this was my chance to be cool. As I look back now this is right about the time that I began my development as a geek. This was slightly counteracted by the fact that by the time this kid would start to develop a personality and begin to look up to people I was the only immediate relative living in a big city. Definitely cool. Plus I had long hair, something which most guys in our town weren’t really into.
By the time he was able to talk I was the cool uncle trying to be an artist in the big city. A had a lock on the whole cool thing (at least as far as he was concerned). Whenever I would come to town he was a ball of energy wanting to do everything all at once. The kid would tire me out and when I would ask my sister how she keeps up with him she would tell me it’s because he’s so excited to hang out with his uncle.
I must admit it felt good to have somebody look up to me. I was the youngest in my family and never had this happen before. My reign of coolness went on unabated for years. It even continued when I gained a niece and another nephew. Even they thought I was cool. It was great. But then something began to happen with the oldest. It was so subtle that I didn’t even notice it at first. He became interested in skateboarding. No problem. I had began to skate and although I didn’t know much I knew enough to retain my coolness. Then he began to play guitar. Wonderful. Every kid should try the arts. But this kid was good. Really, really good. The real red flag was when he started playing football. I can’t speak to the talent in my brother-in-law’s family, but nobody in my family had ever been good or even interested in sports. We were all in Little League at some point but football! That was unheard of! Plus he was good at that too! High school football coaches were calling his house to make sure he would join the team when got to high school. Things progress quickly here. Suddenly the kid is a great skateboarder, a talented athlete, and has formed a band. Before I know it he’s organizing a gig for his band to play at the local VFW (that pull a decent sized crowd) and has a girlfriend. At this point he’s probably the most successful person in my family and worse then that he is definitely cooler than me.
Meanwhile I continue to collect action figures for both my girlfriend and me. I can barely do the most basic of skateboard tricks, build model rockets, and am starting to actually like Dr. Who. The coolness bestowed upon me by my uncle status is fading fast. What little I have may have vanished when I gave him a t-shirt I made myself with the logo for our imaginary rocket club on it. My coolness will soon be gone and then I’ll just be his uncle. I imagine he’ll still humor me when I invite him along on some geeky adventure but it won’t be the same. Rest in peace, My Coolness. It was fun while it lasted.