Last weekend Treasa and I walked from her house to the tiny, lovely Ballard Market. I was in the market for some absurdly expensive honey, made, apparently, by bees who feed on nothing but gold dust and cocaine, and Treasa needed a baby gift for a friend. We were gossiping about someone or another and decided that we basically only want to be around people who are awesome. Life is too short and non-awesome people are too irritating, we agreed. In fact it’s possible that even people who are fine in groups but not one-on-one, or people who are basically okay if they don’t get drunk, or people who are tolerable if they’re paying, might not make the cut. Harsh, I know, but I think that is the beauty of growing up: you get to do whatever you want, and what I (and Treasa, I’m sure) want is awesomeness all around me, at all times.
This begs the question, however, of what constitutes awesomeness? Can awesomosity be learned or is it innate? Can one be awesome in some areas and less so in others, and if so, can a quotient of awesomitude be calculated, leaving you with a quantifiable level of awesome? Can you lose awesomeness, or once you have it, do you get to keep it for life?
Well, sadly, I don’t know any of the answers to those questions, as I am working on being extremely awesome myself, with varying degrees of success, just like everyone else, right? What I can do is tell you a couple of things that I think lend awesomeness to any person or situation, and you can decide how it all comes together. Some of these are just personal barometers, and others I think are more general. Again, you decide! Awesomosity, it’s very personal! But we all know it when we see it, don’t we.
I.Dancing I think dancing is great and I love it very much. It can be bellydance on Monday nights or salsa dance where you wear an indecently tight dress and slick back your hair, or the kind of dance you do in your underwear when you’re getting ready to go out, or the kind where you make dramatic hand gestures in the mirror in the living room, or the kind where you’re driving in the car and a song you love comes on and you sort of bounce up and down, or the kind where you just shake your booty when you’re out with your friends, or the kind where you sway back in forth in the arms of someone excellent. Dancing is a very important marker of awesomitude because not only is it lots of fun, but often people are shy to do it, but it feels really good, and so if you’re shy but you don it anyway, well, that’s very cool. (Especially if you do dramatic hand gestures and if you can stay on the beat, but you know, do what you’re comfortable with.)
II.Kindness This is big. This is fundamental to awesomeness. You cannot be mean if you’re going to be awesome. You can be snarky, as far as I’m concerned, and you can certainly be sarcastic, and you can roll your eyes occasionally, but you have to be kind, too. You have to send your mom a birthday card and pet your cat regularly and tell it it’s a good liddle kitty witty and you have to love your friends very very much. You have to be enraged on their behalf when they get dumped, and for good measure you better bake them some cupcakes, too. You have to help them move and then sit exhausted and sweaty on their floors when you’re done and look around at all the boxes and go, “It looks pretty good in here!” and you also have to go to their shows when they perform and clap really hard. It’s a good idea to give thoughtful and amusing presents as much as possible, especially if they are in any way dirty and/or inappropriate, and it’s also a good idea to say things like “ Girl, you would not BELIEVE what I heard the other day, listen to THIS” when you’re walking around Green Lake together. If you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend or a husband or a wife or any other sort of relationship where smooching comes into the picture, this goes double and triple and I always think it’s a nice touch to know that person’s coffee order by heart and get it for her or him when you’re at line at your locally-owned and operated coffee establishment. You should do that for your mom, too, and for your best friend, but I think it’s okay if you don’t do it for all your friends because that’s a lot of coffee orders to remember. Anyway, kindness and awesomeness go hand in hand, and I think it’s really the thing that’s hardest for everyone, me definitely included. But doing difficult things well is the essence of awesomeness, so it’s well worth it.
III.Making Stuff: Knitting, taking pictures, making costumes, building stuff for your house, being covered in paint on a regular basis, making your own cards with special stamps, singing in the choir, doing burlesque, writing stories and songs and poems, welding, making trebuchets, directing plays, planting gardens, making delicious pots of soup and/or cakes with frosting on them, being really good at painting toenails or doing henna tattoos…I mean, the awesomeness inherent to making stuff runs so deep that it doesn’t even matter if all you do is paint-by-numbers and hang them in your bathroom. (Doesn’t that itself sound immediately cool?)
IV.Food: Now, clearly, people who cook well and often are at a special level of awesomosity. People who bring four kinds of cookies to book club, who make calzones at the slightest provocation, who serve tuna-noodle casserole when you are feeling unhappy, people who make their own pizza dough, people who are really good at stir-fry, people who, for some reason, own a ravioli maker and actually use it, people who have mastered smoothie-making…all of these people deserve to wear a special sign or pin on their jackets that says “I COOK THEREFORE I AM AWESOME.” I think we can all agree on this, yes? It’s just extra great if they like to have parties where they do all the cooking and invite their friends and send them home with leftovers. However! If you do not cook much, or at all, or ever, do not despair because awesomeness can still be yours. Your job, as an awesome non-cook, is to be an awesome eater. This doesn’t mean you have to gain two hundred pounds or anything (unless you want to, and then hoo boy, do you have a fun challenge ahead of you) but it does mean that you should really like delicious food, whatever your tastes are. My own, for example, run along the appetizers line, as I never met a tiny little quiche or phyllo puff or little crab cake I didn’t like. Your thing might be hominy bread from the Tall Grass Bakery, or really good chocolate sauce, or panzanella salad, or fish-n-chips, or Italian cheesecake with strawberries, or all of the above, or whatever…I just think you should really enjoy eating and you should make an effort to eat as fabulously as you can as often as you can. I think awesome people like to have dinner parties a lot, and that they like to go out for brunch, and that they get excited about hors d’oeuvres. I think that if you play your cards right and balance a love of profiteroles with a love of sautéed veggies with olive oil, this will also make you very healthy and pretty, and we know that healthiness and prettiness are quite awesome themselves.
V.Fun This probably goes up along with Making Stuff, and probably I don’t even need to mention it, but the antithesis of awesome is staying in your cube all day, either physically or mentally. You cannot be awesome if all you do is go to work and then just come home and talk about how much you hate your job and how much everything sucks and then sit around your house because you’re tired from work. It’s fine to have to work a lot, and it’s fine to not like your job very much, and certainly it’s fine to be tired, but may I suggest you shake it up a little and make sure that your whole life isn’t a job you hate. I’d say markers of awesomeness in this category include a deep desire to go to Vegas, a love of karaoke and/or bowling, a comprehensive knowledge of eighties’ movies, a familiarity with road trips, your best friend’s number on speed-dial, a sudden conviction to play dress-up out of your own closet at 11:30 on a Thursday night, or perhaps an ability to stand on your head. It doesn’t matter what you think is fun, I don’t think, but you have to do it regularly and you have to be into it. Now, I personally hate any and all games that involve cartridges or boards or cards or whatever, and I have been known to faint at the sight of the Pictionary board, but I do get that some people love games so much that they institute entire days devoted solely to playing games. That’s pretty much my description of hell, but I still have to say that such devotion is in and of itself awesome. See also: Dancing and Food. In my world, if you combine those two with a feather boa, a couple of fake tattoos, and some skillful but non-serious flirtation, then awesomosity for the evening is assured.
As I think about it more, I think that it really is possible to increase awesomeness over time. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that there have been years where I really was not very awesome at all…but I’d like to think that there’s always hope, and that awesometatiousness can be achieved by one and all, thereby making the whole world that much more awesome.