5.12 / December 2010

Cool Steve

Cool Steve had hair that intimidated even the most ferocious of combs. His hands were impossibly ordinary. His teeth straight and malnourished.

He stood six feet and one-half inch tall. And he could be heard boasting daily how that last one-half inch was the difference between him and all the suckers shorter than six feet. Long division had never been his strong suit.

When Cool Steve was twelve-years-old, he taught himself to both juggle and yo-yo in less than eighteen months. After demonstrating his newfound skills to his father, his father requested that Cool Steve perform both activities at the same time. Cool Steve was forced to admit that he could not, and his father called him a communist.

Cool Steve cherished his father’s lesson. He made sure to tuck it figuratively in his back pocket that very afternoon, next to the literal slip of paper listing every girl he had French kissed. Nine girls, at the time, were on the list.

As a freshman in high school, Cool Steve really found his groove. He started a gang called the EverWhats. The single, sole, primary mission of the outfit was threefold:

1 – to explore and map out every square inch of the school’s ventilation system in case of a terrorist attack forcing them to systematically disarm and disable a small army; and

2 – to French kiss girls; and

3 – to perfect the expression and global proliferation of superiority through indifference.

The mission of the EverWhats, however, was ultimately compromised after Sweaty Tom, Cool Steve’s top ranking captain, defected and formed a splinter gang, the WhatsForever. There had been talk of a rumble, but a convenient time and location could never be agreed upon by the rivals.

For his part, nevertheless, Cool Steve continued to French girls. Twenty-four, to be precise.

With his gang disbanded, Cool Steve turned where many renegades, vagabonds, and loners turn to, the guitar. He found the guitar while dumpster diving for buried treasure and dog tags. It only had two strings, the guitar, one of which dangled from the instrument unattached at its neck. Cool Steve would sit on the curb in front of the school strumming his new best friend with a plastic spork. And he would sing.

I won’t cool off,

I don’t cool down.

I turn the cool up,

’cause I’m coolward bound.

Ba dump. Ba dump. Ba dump-a dump-a dumpster.

I won’t cool out,

won’t keep my cool at bay.

Come take a spritz,

of my cool spray.

Cool Steve grew as he aged. Not in height. He maintained that same one-half inch that separated him from the average worms. Only in legend.

When asked on what day he thought he would die, Cool Steve did not have to consider his response. “In a plane crash,” he declared with affirmation. “One full of nuclear bombs and Roman candles,” he specified.

In his twenties, Cool Steve would drink beer like it were beer, and he were an alcoholic. Consequently, he would often awake in the middle of the night with a headache, dry mouth, and soft erection. Cool Steve would walk proudly around his apartment on these nights, naked, between the hours of midnight to 4 a.m. The light shining on his naked body when he would open the fridge made him shriek and cower, however.

Cool Steve would also later walk proudly to his apartment, across the street from the high school, where he worked, as a thirty-seven-year-old janitor.

Every night, immediately after his peanut butter and sardine dinner sandwich, Cool Steve would add minute details to his extensive drawings of the school’s ventilation system. He would also occasionally stare at his list of girls he had Frenched. After careful editing, the list had dwindled to two.

Mostly, Cool Steve would think of Sweaty Tom, and wonder whether he would be receptive to re-opening talks of a rumble. He thought it might just be the thing he needed to find his groove again.