David Teaches Gary How to be Cool

Gary: The Harlem Shake is where this annoying song plays with one person acting like a flipping idiot. Then the song gets more annoying and this sends all casual bystanders into a idiot flipping frenzy. What’s going on with this thing right now?

David: Wow, and it only took you a month to describe it. Gary, this column will not be about day-late-dollar-short fads. Our “cutting edge” work can barely cut a tomato as it is, so I don’t want to talk about the Harlem Shake. Plus, I don’t like it when you ask existential questions.

Gary: Oh, good. The Justin Bieber of library nerds is telling me what’s cool. That’s like taking interior decorating advice from Donald Trump. Or financial planning advice from the United States government. David, how many times must I explain this; I’m the cool one.

David: No, no, no man, you do engage in plenty of cool stuff. Totally. But, that’s just lucky; your whole “I’m aggressively stupid” thing is “in” lately. You’ve had the same idiot shtick since 1996, which at the time was pretty cool. Then you weren’t cool from 2002 to 2010, but now you’re vintage. It’s a really fleeting thing that you have right now.

Gary: The Michael Jackson of idiot cool. I see. (Jutting lower jaw forward) Please, tell me more.

David (suddenly sitting upright): Well, I’m glad you wanna learn. See, I know where to put my fashion sense now, as with Lincoln losing best picture, the next logical choice for cool is Civil War/Reconstruction.  “Fun.” tried to start it but they were too popular at that point for anyone like me to pay attention. Lincoln – had it won best picture – would’ve put Civil War comfortably in the “I liked it before it sold out,” category. But now, with the loss, my friends and I can lament how the Academy is a bunch of sell-outs, and we can now look to Lincoln’s plight to inspire our own misunderstood lives. Do you know what it’s like growing up as a middle class white kid with loving, supportive parents?

Gary: I’ve got a little Lincoln hat for my Little Abraham. I haven’t seen any movie nominated for an academy award this year. Until funny-man Rob Schneider hosts, the academy can go breaststroke. I don’t want to talk about the Academy Awards. Or your nice parents. What’s going on with the Harlem Shake? Do you even know what I’m talking about?

David: I know what the Harlem Shake is. Everybody knows it. See, you’re talking in the Jurassic era right now, I’m talking about Jeff Goldblum. That’s the problem.

Gary: But have you done the Harlem Shake? Suicide is dark, but once you get that song and image of undulating goons stuck in your head there’s only one way out. And if you don’t off, then you find yourself gyrating with a group of like-minded, over-caffeinated undulators on YouTube. Everybody’s doing it!

Let’s do it, Dave! Together! Let’s Harlem Shake ourselves! Together! You start by shaking yourself. I’ll film. Then you shake me. And then I’ll shake me. And then I’ll shake you good! Then we’ll finish off by shaking ourselves together. We be Harlem Shakin’! Not stirred.

David: Gary, what can I do to make this rant of yours end? Support? Insult? I don’t know man, anything? Just say it, because you’ve gotta let this dance thing go. Just let it go.

Gary: All I want to say is, sellout popular groupthink is not cool. I’m totally frustrated. With everyone acting like a flipping idiot, I’m no longer cool! (Ripping shirt open and yelling towards the ceiling) I HATE THE HARLEM SHAKE!!! IDIOT was MY thing! I PRACTICALLY INVENTED IDIOT!!! I don’t know what to do with myself…

David: Ahhhh, there we go. So the truth comes out. You heard it here folks, the great gHJ is nothing more than a player hater. Okay, case solved. What can we talk about today?

Gary (with one eyelid fluttering): If the Harlem Shake is a player then yes, I am a player hater.

What about the hypoxic training debate going on? What’s your thought on holding your breath during exercise?

David: Yeah, like anything, it can go too far. But, swimming fast requires swimming underwater, which requires not breathing. Be safe though and #&@*.

Gary: Breathing underwater is dangerous. And #&@*.

David (nodding): Mmmhm.

Gary: Be careful.

David: Yes.

Gary: And #&@*.

David (still nodding): Yes.

(still pausing to pontificate)

Gary (45 seconds later): Anyway, I’m all for holding my breath until I pass out. I do it every day. Except for when I forget. As long as you’re not in water it’s fine, because you start breathing again the moment you go unconscious. It’s actually supposed to be good for. For. Uh, sorry, I forgot what I was saying…

David: Does it make you a better swimmer though?

Gary: Autoerotic asphyxiation? I have no idea. But I do know that holding your breath is necessary if you want to be a good swimmer. How many breaths were taken in the finals of the 50 meter free finals in London? Maybe one breath, among eight swimmers. How did Phelps stay under off the turns on the last laps of a 200 or 400? He trained for it, while holding his breath. David Berkoff can’t even swim the backstroke! He just held his breath and did the underwater Harlem Shake for a hundred meters. Bam! Olympic gold medalist.

David: Gary, stop stating common knowledge as if it’s profound. Yes, before you ask, disco is dead. And, so is JFK. Stuff happens, then you move on.

Gary (with a sprinkling of sarcasm): You are so very smart, David. So insightful. So “profound” with your big words. I used to be able to hold my breath for over four minutes. I’d dive in the ocean five days a week to build hypoxic capacity. It’s dangerous. Shallow water blackout happens to even very experienced divers. I’ve seen guys seize at the bottom of the pool. Fortunately without fatality, or that annoying Harlem Shake song playing.

David: Again, I agree with everything you’re saying. Everyone does. The thing you’re not talking about is how as a young swimmer by definition you don’t know your limits. That’s why you have a coach, that’s why you have a team; they help you transcend. Not all of us were born with the divine, innate ability to know exactly what to do to avoid shallow water blackout, Gary. If I would’ve known that I could be a gold medalist by holding my breath for four minutes, I would’ve learned how. Wait, I tried, and I couldn’t do it. Why was that? Am I fat?

Gary: We’ve been through this before, the Olympics discriminate against fat people. Not stupid people. If you didn’t make the team, it’s a strong indication you’re dealing with a weight issue. Cause you’re definitely dumb enough to be an Olympic champion.

Sketch 2013-03-06 18_09_17
David: Thanks, Gary.

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9 years ago


About Gary Hall, Jr. and David Cromwell

Gary Hall, Jr. Gary Hall, Jr. has 10 Olympic medals in swimming and represented the United States national team for 15 years. He is currently an active healthcare consultant with a focus on diabetes care providing board support, strategic alliance, marketing and public relations strategy, international sales and distribution services, advocacy, …

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