Zoom, zoom, zzzzzz: Aging gracefully & what "cool" actually means
Young and cool or old and lame? Which do you want to be? Judging from the rocket-like sales of face smoothers and rod stiffeners it would seem the answer is fairly clear. Nobody wants to be old and lame, even when they’re old and lame. We do everything we humanly can to delay the reality of aging, going so far as to demand that children call us by our first name. That doing so makes us sound like that guy who graduated high school twelve years earlier but still hangs out in front so “the ladies” can appreciate his wicked Corvette is beside the point. Youth rules, hands down.
But perhaps I’m being unfair. It’s a brand new reality we live in. Folks in general live a lot longer these days so it only makes sense that they’d want to look at extending the better days of their lives versus tucking in for an extra-long period as senior citizens. “I’ll never grow up!” said Peter Pan, and really why would you if you didn’t have to?
Well, because. Because this whole business of being hip and young and cool can get pretty darn exhausting at times. Oh sure, the true hipster doesn’t give a flappy fig nut about anyone else’s opinion but a very large part of the “being young and cool industry” rests in staying ever longer on the treadmill chasing the next-newest-thing. New music, new foods, new clothes, new whatever. You can’t stop and hold on no matter how much you might love those parachute pants. They’re yesterday, and the hip and cool must keep on adopting no matter what. So while the confident few among us walk their paths in peace, the rest of us “cool seekers” spend our days and nights worrying whether we’re still in tune or not.
So you can guess how surprised I was to see hipster car company Mini actually prove the benefits of being old. I don’t think they meant to do this. In fact, it was so subtle that I’m probably the only guy in the world who noticed it but make no mistake Mini blew the horn of age loud and proud.
And it only makes sense to trumpet aging. Think about it. You finally get to jettison that sappy reliance on the approval of others. You finally settle once and for all into who you are and who you’re gonna be. No more second guessing. No more pretending. The hysterics of youth are gone and you’re finally free to eat and wear and do what’s fun for you vs. what others might think. You can voice unpopular opinions and offend the masses (who don’t really care anyway). You can fart in public, wear socks with sandals and finally exorcise whatever PC claptrap still clouds your thinking mind. “Don’t mind him,” they’ll say. “He’s old.” Damn right he is. Sign me up.
Now in Mini’s new TV spot we find ourselves in a jam-packed parking garage. No open spots – anywhere. Suddenly, a single stall frees up and immediately a cadre of Mini drivers zip off to compete for it. This way and that, they race. Looking cool and being fun as they zoom around like panicked (but cool) juveniles trying to find a bootlegger. Then, as the commercial reaches its inevitable conclusion, two of the Mini’s stop short - jamming on their brakes - as a little old lady in a motorized scooter glides smoothly between them and scores the parking stall in question. No apologies, no friendly wave, just the determined glare of an aged spinster who couldn’t give a crap about all the flim flam foofarah going on around her. It’s truly inspired, but I doubt Mini realizes their determined little old lady just flipped the bird to their entire ethos of hip.
Mini, the brand, is ruthless about their product. They practically insist their owners be “fun” and “unique.” They reek of hipness and literally bleed cool. Even the famed Scientology personality test couldn’t hold a candle to the unsaid, yet universally accepted, dictums predicating Mini ownership. When your car comes with an option to track the amount of time the roof is dropped on your convertible (thus reminding those unwilling to muss their hair, or freeze their nubs off just how very lame they are) you know it’s about way more than good gas mileage. Buy a Mini and you’re in the cool club – period. Well, maybe not.
Eventually we’ll all have to stop running around in circles, and the sooner we embrace aging as the gift it really is the better most things actually become. Being cool isn’t about wearing the latest style or listening to the hottest tunes. It’s about enjoying and appreciating what matters first to you, and not ever to the rest of the world. Don’t buy a Mini if you want people to think you’re cool. Buy a Mini because you actually have fun driving one. Now that’s cool.