Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 07.06.09
Stanstead, Quebec


Ten random things I've learned -- If you weren't cool in high school, you will never be cool

1. I've learned to make a ponytail. Braids, however, are out of my league.

2. I've learned that society is overprotective and paranoid. Case in point: in another generation or two, children will have no idea what a seesaw is. This occurred to me when I saw the seesaws being wrenched out of the ground at my daughter's school this past week, merely the latest in seesaw exorcisms that have been occurring for the past couple of decades around the world.

Seesaws, you see, (or "bingbangs," as they're known around here) are dangerous. An accident waiting to happen. They turn playgrounds into cry-grounds. Kids might fall off them. Or the lower kid might jump off all of a sudden and send the upper kid hurtling to the ground. Or kids might try to balance in the middle and tumble on their malleable little heads.

Well, duh! That's the point! When you're a kid, what makes something fun is the possibility that you might get hurt. It's just that sometimes, as in the case of seesaws, the risk is too obviously apparent to parents.

But really, has anyone ever joined a seesaw recovery group or organized a Bingbang-a-Thon in support of the poor toothless victims and their sore bums?

The disappearance of seesaws won't be merely a physical loss. It will also have an impact on our language. Years from now, you'll say something like, "Wow, the score in that game really seesawed," and the children will say, "What's 'seesawed,' Grampa?" And you'll yell at them, "Shut up and fetch me another bottle of ozone!"

3. Never FUI - Facebook Under the Influence. This is especially so for those over thirty-five. Some corpses are best left buried.

4. I've learned that too many people feel they have a license to yell at service industry workers. This is wrong, it rarely solves the problem at hand and it smacks of classism. Please remember, people: it's just a cheeseburger.

5. I've learned I'm still young enough to rock but too old to roll. Example: I've recently taken a fancy to British singer/songwriter Frank Turner, who writes potent, witty, catchy songs about passion, politics, disillusionment, and hope. Plus, he plays a mean guitar. And he's skinny and homely enough that I feel comfortable saying "taken a fancy to."

This coming weekend, he's playing a bar in Montreal. Cool! But showtime is ten o'clock. That's just way too late for me. Plus, it's Sunday. I work the next day.

I'd like to rock but I can't roll into Montreal and back at that hour.

Someone fetch me some ozone...

So instead, I encourage any folk/punk/music fans to check out Le Divan Orange on St-Laurent this Sunday and get back to me. Just don't call after 11.

6. Re-read the books you read in high school. You'll have a completely different take. Jay Gatsby? Not nearly as big a dweeb as you thought he was. Or maybe I'm just projecting because...

7. If you weren't cool in high school, you will never be cool. You may develop skills, gain confidence, run a Fortune 500 company, climb Everest, learn to make a ponytail, but you will never be cool. Cool is a genetic trait. I'm terribly sorry, but I work in a high school and I know.

8. I've learned the world would be a sadder, blander place without the onion. Worth every tear.

9. I've learned that small children are easily impressed by the most rudimentary dance moves. For example, I can do that Charleston thing where it looks like your knees are crisscrossing. Little kids lose their minds over this. It has the opposite effect, however, with teenagers. (See "not cool in high school" above.)

10. Everyone gets a gut.