When I was in ninth grade I was asked out on a date to an amusement park. I was very excited because this was the first time I had been asked out on a date and I also really liked roller coasters.
I bought a new shirt for this event, a mostly white tank top emblazoned with the logo for Corona beer that referenced an imaginary entity called “Corona Beach Club.” To me this tank top was the epitome of “cool” even though (or maybe especially because) I had never consumed a beer or lived anywhere near a beach. My older brother was embarrassed for me and tried to make me change my outfit into something that was more my style, like a Disneyland sweatshirt or a power blazer with shoulder pads.
My mother silenced my brother with, “Let her wear what she wants. She wants to be cool.”
I gave my brother a tart little glance and proudly waited for my date.
My date was on time. He picked me up in his father’s Buick. Even then I knew, no one goes to the Corona Beach Club in a Buick.
I reflect back on this little anecdote, and I think about the controversy surrounding Abercrombe&Fitch, and its “embattled” CEO, Michael Jeffries. Recently, he has been getting a lot of heat (and I guess a lot of free publicity) for comments he made in 2006 article in which he suggested that A&F clothes are for “cool people only.” Mr. Jeffries appealed to this targeted marketing strategy to justify why A&F clothes are not stocked larger sizes. You know, fat people aren’t cool. (I think he learned that in business school).
I read the 2006 article, link here, which was written, apparently, with Mr. Jeffries consent. It hardly paints a flattering portrait of him. Everything about this guy, except maybe his personal bank account, screams insecure loser wannabe. It takes one to know one, and, yes, as a former 14-year-old who put on her cool girl outfit only to be picked up in a Buick, I know.
I am sure he is happy to be rich, but it is clear to me that Mr. Jeffries’s main goal in life is to be “cool” himself. To be “uncool”? For him it’s the ultimate failure. A fate worse than death. (Even a corpse can wear Abercrombie&Fitch if it’s “cool” enough.)
You don’t have to be too hip to see this, but the cool thing? for Mr. Jeffries? it ain’t happenin’. The fellow is, as the cool folks say, a douche. And this is obvious to everyone but Mr. J. himself.
No amount of teeth bleaching or flip flop wearing is going to change how fundamentally uncool he is. That he surrounds himself with hot young guys, people who fit his “cool” ideal, only serves to accentuate the difference between him and the firm, taut physique he is groping for.
So I know there are a lot of cool, uncool, and formerly cool people out there who would like to see this guy get what he deserves. But, really, I think he already has.
That he doesn’t realize it? That he has no insight into how pathetic he actually is? Well, I wouldn’t wish the pain of that insight that on anyone, not even someone as nasty as Michael Jeffries.
That just wouldn’t be cool.