K[ale]-holing: the Cool debate

‘I read in Vogue,’ said my housemate ‘that it’s all different for us. Our parents’ generation took loads of drugs, so it’s just not cool anymore. We’ve replaced drugs with vegetables.’

Well this was fantastic news for me. I was still very much under the impression that drugs were cool, leading my life encumbered by the inconvenient fact that I probably do prefer vegetables. But if Vogue says it then it must be true.

The theory makes sense. There’s only so many times you can see facebook pictures of someone’s “messy night”, or hear about how rough their come-down was before it all gets a little boring. In fact I can tell you just how many times you can hear about someone’s comedown before it gets boring. It’s less than once.

But now, apparently, it’s not booze and getting high that will gain you you super-hip credentials. It’s hiking and kale and being responsible. It’s simple: drugs are the ultimate in anti-mainstream, and now that being anti-mainstream is mainstream, that makes drugs mainstream. Just like having facial piercings or having a big arse. Basically, if you were  supposed to like it back in January, and Iggy Azalea has made a song about it, it’s not cool anymore.

And to be honest, there is something really grim about the realisation that you’re not original or special for taking drugs, because everybody has already been doing it for years. Everything you say and do while high has already been said and done by someone else. Someone who’s probably grown up, had kids and got all boring by now.

But the whole thing gets even more complicated. In Stephen Fry’s recent autobiography, he discusses the extensive drug habit of his youth that saw him allegedly snorting coke in Buckingham Palace and The House of Lords,(which, incidentally, is such an overwhelmingly Stephen Fry way to take cocaine.) What does that do to our theory? Because Stephen Fry is technically uncool, that makes him really cool, right? So coke is cool again? But then he also emphatically warns people against taking cocaine because it ruined his life. So it’s… not cool? But it’s NOT cool to do as you’re told so… Okay, now I’m confused.

But then I had a thought. Calling something “cool”, having that enviable label, is inherently just a way of excluding everything and everyone that doesn’t quite fit. This new idea, this “healthy, fit, clean, pure people are hip” thing is just as bad. So I’m chuffed because I’d rather spend an evening experimenting with butternut squash recipes than experimenting with hallucinogenics, but my diet is also 70% takeaway pizza, so I can’t be in this new gang either.

Trying to wade through quagmire of cool is tiring and futile. Of course drugs are cool, they’re dangerous and illegal. That will probably always be the case. It’s cheaper and far less hassle for me to make a damn good parsnip soup than take a load of coke. If we’re being realistic, no one is going to think I’m cool for that. But I don’t really care. Why should I? I’ve got soup.

Jennie Pritchard

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