A concussed guide to cool

Canadian Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau, dressed as Han Solo, and his wife Sophie Gregoire with their son Hadrien, while trick-or-treating on Halloween. Photo: Reuters
Canadian Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau, dressed as Han Solo, and his wife Sophie Gregoire with their son Hadrien, while trick-or-treating on Halloween. Photo: Reuters

Having exhausted every other angle on rugby this week, Liz Breslin's family started chatting about concussion tests.

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin

A 13-year-old talked me through how it is done since he has had them done in the past, which horrifies me because what are we teaching our children about the glorious benefits of getting beaten regularly around the head?

He clarified that they ask you what your name is, how many fingers are being held up and what day of the week it is.

I struggle with the last one all the time when feeling relatively normal, though I'm usually good with ''week day'' or ''weekend'' as a reply.

''And the last question,'' he said, ''something obvious like 'Who's the prime minister?'.''

''Oooh,'' chipped in the nearly-12-year-old in the conversation. ''They could ask you which prime minister dressed up as Hans Solo to go trick-or-treating. That was cool.''

And it was. Not only the act itself, though we'll come back to that, but the fact that a nearly-12-year-old (it's more impressive than being 11, OK) knew it. And thought it was cool. Something good we're teaching our children.

Uncool cool: Angela Merkel. Photo: Reuters
Uncool cool: Angela Merkel. Photo: Reuters

Being cool and being a politician don't always mix. Because being cool is not necessarily being popular and being popular is pretty crucial to a political career. Being cool relies on some kind of Venn diagrammatical intersection of being just popular enough for people to get it but then also extendingly leaderly out there in whatever field you're being cool in.

But being cool and being popular is working out just fine for Justin Trudeau, Canada's new prime minister to be, who has been called ''super hot'' and ''hunky'' (Please can someone ban that ''h'' word forever? It is so not cool.) as well as politically progressive and all that too.

And yes, he dressed up as not just Han Solo (popular) but a very specific Han Solo on the ice planet Hoth (out there) to go out trick-or-treating with his kids and his Princess Leia wife around the neighbourhood.

How cool is that? Totally rocking the edginess of the Venn diagram of cool.

There are other ways to be politically cool if you can carry it off. Barack Obama's got a mean singing voice when he busts out a bit of Al Green or leads off on Amazing Grace.

And just so you know, having affairs, while making you marginally more newsworthy, is not cool. Len Brown, Don Brash, take note.

It's so last century: been there, done that in the Oval Office, smoked the cigar. And anyway, in France, it's slap bang in the middle of the popular/expected-things category for anyone in any kind of power.

Helen Clark. Photo Reuters
Helen Clark. Photo Reuters

While we're clarifying the obvious, doing bad things with dead cancer-causing animals in bratfest initiation ceremonies also does not make you cool. Especially not while burning money under the noses of the homeless. In fact you would not need a concussion test for that behaviour, but a do-you-have-a-brain-at-all test.

Just as well there's no-one doing things like that running any countries. Otherwise what example would we be setting for our children?

There's something to be said for the so-uncool-it's-cool approach. Not just in politics, but in life. I'm always hoping that could be true, anyway.

In politics, though, Angela Merkel might be a good example.

You've got to love a woman who co-wrote a paper called Vibrational Properties of Surface Hydroxyls: Nonempirical Model Calculations Including Anharmonicities, and, according to an article in the New Yorker, spent an entire swimming lesson on the edge of the diving board thinking about jumping. Love it.

Or how about Helen Clark opening a slick new chairlift for the bright young things at Cardrona before nipping over to the Snow Farm to get in some cross-country skiing action. Seriously cool uncoolness, both.

And there's a lesson in that for try-hards everywhere. Because trying to be down with the kids is never cool. You've got to be comfy a step outside, a step ahead. But yeah, it must be tempting to jump on to bandwagons when you're trying to run a band.

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