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Clever And Cool

Clever And Cool

During the stage of adolescence, what is more important than who our friends are, what we wear, what gadget we own, what party we attend and when exam is due, what grade we get so we qualify to get that gift we got promised if we did well? But paramount on this scale of importance is our friends- that cool squad we belong to. Even though school work can be boring and difficult (especially if you are not an average student) just the thought of friends, the games, the hot gossips and the time away from parents keep us through it.

My squad was made up of Nana Kwaku (who liked to be called Nana K), Dromo (We liked to call him D-MO. Dromo was too local), then there was Kevin and Chris. We related with other boys and girls who were pretty our handsome in our view, who wore their uniforms in un-prescribed way like we did etc.

My parents knew my squad, and its associate members and their parents. But anytime I was asked how my school day went and I mentioned a name they did not know, they made mental notes of those names and will ask when my squad gathered around the car to greet whoever was picking me up or find the person during open day. I would ask why they wanted to meet someone who was not my friend. Accompanied with a laugh, my parents’ reason was this: ‘Because you said the person got an A while the rest of the class made a C.I want to see if his head is bigger than what you have’.

How annoying I thought that was. I was a cool guy. I did not have a big head. Apart from the fact that I could not make an A, I was ‘courageous ‘ enough to sneak out of bed at 10pm to watch TV when  everyone was in bed, I knew all the characters in Nickledon,I watched E! and music videos with half naked people, I had the latest Nike Air sneakers and to top it up, I had an IPhone and  a PS4.With time, my parents understood the friendship criteria and  were disappointed that making good grades, being a bookworm and career choices was not part of this criteria.

On open days my parents will check out each squad member’s position. I topped the ‘WE 5 chart’ though, but overall, I would be 21st or 23rd.

Those uncool people were usually between 1st and 5th. They rubbed their I-am-not-cool smell all over the position so much so that no cool person wanted to be 1st.It was a spot for the uncool. We targeted the 9th position and below because the finest and coolest girl in the year made it to that position.

It was the last term before we went to final year and my sitting mate for that term was Kekeli, the teachers’ pet who was always first and as boring as ‘Talking Point’. Kekeli will not teach me when I was stuck at a question and will laugh at me when I could not spell a word rightly. I was always furious when I got home because I had to use some of my ‘me’ time to learn a new word or ask my parents how a word is spelt so I could face him squarely. My parents were liking this and would refer to Kekeli as my friend when they wanted to know how my day went. ‘He isn’t my friend’, I yelled.

That term, I did better. I was 15th.I was happy and wanted to do better but I could not show it. I made a secret vow to beat Kekeli to the next term because I began to think that cool could include a clever person. It felt good when a question was asked and I knew the answer. A part of me wanted to be as brainy as Kekeli.

Unknown to my friends and me, the definition of cool was not static. When admissions to Senior High School were out, those who gained admission into certain schools, automatically joined the squad while lost membership. Thanks to Kekeli, who unconsciously made me sit up, I got into a good school but I had to find new friends because I did not motivate D-Mo and co to learn so we could get into the same school. Nana –K and Kevin relocated to the States. Chris and Kevin got into different schools. Schools that were not the ‘ish’

The funny bit is, as we grew older, the pass to getting all the things that made us cool were the grades we made. It was only when we excelled academically that we got an upgrade of the gadgets we had, new clothes or gained more TV or visit to friends’ time. Most of us began to lose those privileges because we could not make the grades which somehow forced our parents to give us what we asked for.

My point then as I reminisce is this, in as much as it is important to be a cool person based on what our parents money and fame gives us, it will be cooler to have the skills needed to acquire money or fame that is ours. This comes predominantly from education.

Believe it or not, the paradigms that define being that cool dude changes to include academic qualifications as we grow older. Our friends are key in this process; No man or woman has gone far in life without the help of a good friend. Identify the good ones and hold on to them! Flee from the ones who enjoy breaking rules, stealing, smoking, drinking etc. because our friends help raise or lower the standards we set for ourselves or help us set standards when we don’t have any. They encourage us to become better versions of ourselves or otherwise. Eventually, we become like our friends.

We therefore need to make friends who have standards similar to ours, who would remind us of what is wrong and what is right and challenge us in healthy ways. Why not move from betting on which team tops the EPL chart this week to who gets the highest grade in the squad?

March 7, 2019

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