Posted tagged ‘popular’

Middle School Cool

April 23, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      April 23, 2019


I was never one of the cool kids in school. It’s hard being cool when you’re a 4 foot 8 inch eighth grader with nerdy looking glasses. I was a cute kid, but eighth grade girls had moved past cute and had started looking for handsome, manly, and hints of voices that had suddenly started getting lower. I was a high-pitched, miniature, buzzcut boy who always wore clothes from the J.C. Penney’s store my mom worked at. Randy McDaniels was cool! He was 6 foot one inch, a great athlete, and the dream of most of the females in our class. Of course, when Randy entered his senior year he was still six foot one! He had just received an advance on his masculinity that the rest of his classmates wouldn’t catch up on for a couple of years.

As I walk down the hallways of Timberview Middle School nowadays I notice cool and uncool. That is, what students perceive as cool! 

For instance, having a cell phone in your hand is a prerequisite to even being considered cool. To be talking to Joey and without hesitation look at your cell phone and text Charley that you’ll see him at lunch…that’s in the preface of the book on cool. 

In fact, up-to-date technology is the first chapter in the book How to Be Cool In Middle School In Ten Easy Diagrammed With Pictures Steps. Cool students walk down the hallways with Apple AirPods in their ears. They are an indication that overpriced merchandise is not an obstacle for them…or their parents’ credit card. Having an Apple Watch is an even greater advance in the Kingdom of Coolness! In saying those things I have to admit that I pull out my gold MacBook at Starbucks with an air of prideful arrogance!

Middle school cool kids stand in the middle of the hallway at the height of student traffic moments and expect everyone else to detour around them. It’s their position of royalty with the feel of their subjects keeping their distance from them. If uncool students did that they would be trampled by the stampeding herd!

Uncool kids wear things like hair headbands with cat ears attached. Cool kids wear hair apparel with a Nike swoosh prominently displayed!

Cool kids have their parents deliver Chick-Fil-A to them for lunch. Uncool kids bring Lunchables or sandwiches made with white bread. 

Cool kids go to school athletic contests and sit in the upper corner of the bleachers with their cell phones and make inappropriate remarks about uncool classmates. Actually watching the game that is being played is not cool, unless someone they are infatuated with is playing.

Cool kids moan and groan about going to Language Arts and Math. Depending on whether the teacher is considered cool or not, it may be acceptable to seem interested in the Science and Social Studies classes. 

Cool kids ask to go to the restroom at least twice a day and take their time in the venture. Cool kids have cool looking water bottles, also. 

Cool kids run for student council and get elected even though they have no interest in making any decisions or planning any initiatives. Uncool kids, who would be awesome in getting some things done, never get elected! 

Cool kids show up in the morning with their Starbucks Frappuccinos. Uncool kids have juice boxes.

Middle school coolness is the predecessor to high school cockiness. It’s like the incubator for developing distorted perspectives on what’s important in life. Into the mash of that heated setting teachers try to lead students to deeper life understandings and principles. 

And, you know something? Bottom line, middle school teachers are the ones who are really the cool ones! 

Taking A Page From Abercrombie and Fitch

May 10, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     May 10, 2013

The CEO of the clothing chain, Abercrombie and Fitch, recently reiterated his business plan focus that A&F is for the hot and attractive young people. They don’t want larger sized people to wear their clothes, or be customers in their stores.

Cool, obviously, is everything!

CEO Mike Jeffries made this statement: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong in our clothes, and they can’t belong.”

This is not a new position for A&F. Those words were said by Jeffries in a 2006 interview. The troubling thing is that even though we are irked by the arrogance, we go along with the philosophy. How can I say that? A&F is a 5 billion dollar company. The younger crowd drops money there like crazy! Teens and twentysomethings and “wanna-be twentysomethings” have bought into the idea that wearing A&F is an element of creating an image.

The arrogance of A&F is that they define what the image is, and expect the customer base to, pardon the pun, “fit into it.” Some of that arrogance has come out in several discrimination court cases involving minorities, the dismissal of an employee who wore a prosthetic forearm because she was told that her appearance breached the store’s “Look policy”, and the dismissal of a Muslim woman who refused to remove her head scarf.

And yet people… the right people…continue to shop at the store like it is selling Beatle’s memorabilia…oops, wrong generation!

The concern I have is that I see some of that filtering into the church. I really do! Not that we should be surprised. The Corinthian church could have put an A&F logo out front, except using Greek letters. There was that little problem that had with consuming all the food and wine before everyone had arrived for the Agape Feast, the love meal. Knowing the culture, those who arrived early for the agape meal was mostly those who were more financially stable. The people who arrived later were mostly the ones who had to work long hours just to survive.

Can you say cool and not-cool?

Paul’s stress to the church at Corinth about being “the body of Christ” had immense relevance to what was going on there.

I know…I know, we usually talk about the church being twenty years behind the times. The point, however, is not whether we are behind the times or ahead of the masses. It is that the church is the one institution, the one organization, that it not to be exclusionary. It is the group that discards the labels that the rest of our culture slaps on us. The book of James cautions about discriminating between rich and poor in the seating arrangements. Jesus used sharp words towards his disciples who were trying to keep children from bothering him. The first century church reorganized in order to take care of the widows.

And yet there still seems to be a part of us that wants our church to be populated with the cool people. It’s the dirty little secret that testifies to our fallen nature.

The church should have a sign that says “A&O”, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, because the arms of Jesus are intended to cover everyone in between.