I have to say this: I’m mad. I mean livid, angry and incensed. Why you ask? Justin Timberlake. Okay, I don’t know Justin Timberlake and I’m sure he is a swell guy and all, but I recently purchased his latest release The 20/20 Experience which made me realize that I’m not cool.
It was a great epiphany for me. For years I have languished in the self-confidence that I am, in fact, super cool. I mean I have pretty good sized action figure collection, I have written a book titled RISE OF THE PENGUINS, I can paint pictures that are poignant, I know the alphabet and I can use the alphabet to assemble various words in a somewhat structured manner in order to communicate. All really cool stuff. So you may be asking yourself, if all of that is true, then why did JT make you feel uncool? Well here’s why: As I was cruising home in my 2007 Chrysler Sebring that has well over 100,000 miles and that I’m still making payments on, (don’t be jealous), I listened to The 20/20 Experience by the aforementioned Justin Timberlake. His voice was smooth; the beats had me feeling it to the point where I was awkwardly bobbing my head and then I couldn’t help myself but to start singing along to the bonus track Body Count.
Let me tell you a little more about myself. I’m forty-five, somewhat pasty white despite some Hispanic heritage in my bloodline and I have the singing voice of a Galapagos Tortoise in heat. The reason I know I have the signing voice of Galapagos Tortoise is because on a recent visit to the local zoo I had, thanks to my teen-age daughter, a Cher Lloyd song stuck in my head and I quietly sung I Want You Back. Within minutes the tortoises broke free from their pens and stampeded toward me, all with hope of having a ‘go’ at the creature singing with the mellifluous voice of their kind and announcing that it was time to procreate. I fled the lust-filled tortoises posthaste, narrowly avoiding their amorous advances.
As I was saying, I was happily driving and singing along with JT, (it didn’t matter that I didn’t know the words, with pipes like mine I can make the words up), and then a strange thing happened—I discovered I couldn’t match his notes. To say the least, I was shocked. I’ve always been able to match the subtle crooning of KISS and other artists. You should hear me sing Calling Dr. Love by KISS. I guarantee it will leave you with your heart all a flutter. Something had to be amiss. I tried again and by comparison to Mister Timberlake I emitted something that sounded akin to a belch after eating one too many kielbasa. This wouldn’t do, so I changed tracks to Suit and Tie. This song made me remember his performance on the Grammys. At that point I also remembered that not only am I forty-five, but I have bad knees and that I have the rhythm and dancing ability of an Aardvark with arthritis and palsy.
|Handsome JT-ish guy-Crayon on paper-2013|
|Arthritic Aardvark in Suit and Tie-Crayon on paper-2013|
I continued to listen to the music, despite the fact that I two had consecutive gut punches to my self-esteem. In my frustration, I switched lanes to go around a Roadway truck whose driver wrongly guessed that the speed limit was 30 MPH when in fact it was 50 MPH. (I mention the name Roadway so the company will know that their drivers lack the capability of reading road signs or adhering to traffic laws). As I’m passing, the driver of said truck decides that he wants to be in my lane and promptly merges over. I narrowly escaped a grisly death by slamming on the brakes, laying on the horn and extending a single finger to let the driver know that he was number one.
*(The single finger reaction is essential to survival while avoiding tons of impending steel doom)
When I stopped at the next red light, I took a deep breath and looked in the rearview mirror to adjust my bifocals. How did this guy not see my beige four-door sedan? It was then that I fully understood the forces at play. I was no longer in the realm of cool—that shady oasis that protects those who dwell there from the harsh light of reality. The Gods of Suave had attempted to smite me. I can’t dance like JT, I can’t sing like JT, I’m not as good-looking as JT and if he collected action figures, his collection would be bigger and better than mine. I thought man, I need to go home and watch a Dove commercial.
But when I got home my dogs were jumping and barking, happy to see me. And then my wife came home from work and she hugged me and was glad to be home and by my side. She looked at my latest painting and loved it. And then Justin Timberlake being so much cooler than me no longer mattered—he’s just a guy who worked hard and used his talents and is really cool. So now I listen to The 20/20 Experience and no longer feel uncool. It reminds me to keep on working hard and maybe I’ll get to where I want to be. Who knows, maybe JT wishes he could write a book about a penguin uprising?