I’m just gonna come right out and say it: coolness is highly overrated. In fact, I can’t think of a single good thing being cool has ever gotten me. I can, however, think of several not-so-good things that the effort to be cool has gotten me, including but not limited to: chaffed skin from my unfortunate leather pant rocker chick phase, barfing in Shane Black’s backyard trying to prove Kentucky girls can hold their Makers Mark (they can’t), and the number one most embarrassing moment of my career in front of a legendary television mogul. That’s right, in an effort to portray just how cool and relaxed I was at my network test for an Aaron Spelling pilot, (with the man himself seated on the world’s longest couch sandwiched between twelve very serious men in suits) I sauntered into the room, saw the chair in the center, and casually flopped into it as I would do in my own home. But it was not my own home, it was the biggest audition of my life, and as such, I was dressed to impress in my shortest skirt (this was the 90’s when good old Ally McBeal had made postage stamp minis all the rage) and so, the result of my apathetic flop paired with my mostly bare legs created a pocket of air that when slapped between my thighs and the leather seat reverberated across the room in the loudest fart noise imaginable. Yes. You heard me right. And so did they…
I fake farted in front of The Aaron Spelling.
And the worst part was, no one laughed. The suits were all much too cool to admit just how hilarious it was, and I was too terrified at having lost my street cred to even acknowledge what happened. Which was a real shame – if I had it to do over again, I would’ve kept flopping down on that chair making fart noises until they finally cracked and all the awkwardness would’ve just melted away in a sea of laughter. Because in my experience, awkwardness is almost always a direct result of people holding too tightly to some persona they want to portray instead of just being themselves, goofs and all.
As you can see, being cool hasn’t been very cool to me, but being uncool has given me some truly spectacular moments. In fact, pretty much any time I have gone out on a limb as the world’s biggest dork, I have been rewarded with true greatness – like the time I saw a movie filming down the street and I went over to the set like an overeager beaver at the chance to see an actual movie set – and ended up being invited to sit on Kirk Douglas’s lap, who said, and I quote, “Tell me Kara, could you ever love a man who slurred?” Uh yes, yes I could, especially if that man’s name happens to be Spartacus!
Or there was the time I auditioned to play Tom Selleck’s daughter for a new show and I spent my entire session with the casting director gushing about how my grandmother had a framed picture of him on the wall as if he were a part of the family so I grew up thinking he was my uncle – and it was that silly story that got me a screen test with Magnum himself, and while I didn’t end up getting the job, I got to act with one of my favorite stars, which was pretty freaking great.
Truly, every time I’ve abandoned cool reserve in favor of exuberant and unapologetic me-ness it has garnered a memorable experience. From giddy conversations with Dick Van Dyke to cartwheels in front of Stonehenge, from making sappy videos declaring my love for my boyfriend (now husband) in a refusal to play hard to get, to selling huge pitches off my willingness to make fun of my own mortifying moments – my favorite memories have been born of utter foolishness.
As a friend of mine astutely said, it’s not love unless you’re willing to make a fool of yourself for it.
Sure there are times when going out on a limb and letting your fool flag fly does not go over like you’d hoped, (Tom Cruise and couch jumping come to mind, as do Sean Young and a certain feline superhero) but that’s when you’ve just got to laugh and realize at least you’ll have a great story to tell at parties. Because to me, it is better to have been a dork and failed then to have lived a flat boring life in your fortress of coolitude. And in the end, being unapologetically authentic will win you the level of success and respect that only those who are willing to risk looking foolish can earn – just look at those dorks Lucas and Spielberg!
So go ahead and start a conversation about Carl Sagan and the possibility of space travel with Jodie Foster when you see her standing alone at some stuffy event; apply to go back to college and get your masters degree even if you’re a decade older than everyone else; write that script you’ve been secretly dreaming of even if the whole world says you’d be a fool to do it. And for goodness sake, embrace the faux farts when they happen – it may not be cool, but I guarantee you life will be a whole lot more fun when you do.