Note: Paraphrased from Autism: A Different Kind of Cool
I misspent my youth pursuing a mythic swagger, the kind of new age aura that exuded confidence, often styled in baggy clothing maybe highlights in my hair — the absolute zenith of what one could be:
I sought cool — the intangible unobtainium — working with an earnest passion, but with a maladroit, inexpert approach. Cool was at once effortless, but effort-laden. You couldn’t pull off cool without putting it on.
I was more Screech Powers than Zack Morris, only less social. The wrong kind of different.
After retreating to and cultivating a niche set of tastes — some palpably bad , some presciently good , some just bizarrely dated or transient — and having little else but to double down and just lean into the things that I enjoyed, I gave up on cool.
That’s the best I feel I’m going to do in Dustin’s Dynasty, to obtain that different kind of cool.
To where I imagine I’m sitting at a table, languidly working down a water glass, and someone brings up a little-known yarn about me.
“Hey, so I you worked for the Government when you were like, fourteen?”
And I’d set my glass down, sigh in a way where they’d know they’d uncovered a secret about me.
“I was fifteen, and it wasn’t quite the Government, but —”
Or someone remembers the one time I emailed out a playlist of songs that overlapped with zero other peoples’ taste.
“Dustin, where do you even find the genres for the stuff you listen to?”
And I’d chuckle.
Through manifold enthusiasms, obsessions, growing up living life with a different mind, using big words that put me in different company, holing up to carve out my own interests and depths, navigating rough social sands — I never became cool.
But I found the different kind of cool.