–Jeff Spicoli, Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Ever return to your country from a trip abroad and realize that something to which you previously gave little importance is, in fact, important? That was how I arrived at the importance of being cool. I’d just come back from a long stay in Montreal. I was off the plane, sitting at a bus stop, and saw a young guy walking toward me on the sidewalk. His baggy jeans were riding around his thighs, exposing about four inches of boxer shorts. He wore a baseball cap cocked to one side, bill pulled down, out of which flopped about a foot’s worth of dreadlocks. His zip-up sweatshirt was of a fabric I’d seen in little kids’ pajamas—a thick, soft cotton printed with cartoonish designs. His gait was a slow, lopsided shuffle. One arm was out in front of him, bent at the elbow and moving in little circular motions to the rhythm of his walk, as if he were beating eggs. I thought it might be polio or palsy. Then I realized that he was cool.