No one is cool all the time, and amen to that. As a label or a style, “cool” can be limiting, even uncomfortable. Think tight waistbands, pointy-toed shoes, and a leather jacket worn in the heat. Dorky, by contrast, is freedom. Dorky is transgressive, requiring and inspiring courage. You, dear reader, know this secret truth. And no matter your level of cool, you occasionally surrender, with pleasure, to dorky. Prepare to do so again.
A bit about the word: Dork is a term in flux. Originally slang for, you guessed it, a penis, it somehow (duh) turned into a euphemism for “an uncouth person.” But it has come up in the world (sorry). The adjective version, dorky, like its cousinly nouns nerd and geek, is no longer a straight-up insult; dorky now conveys a sense of post-Zuckerberg/Gates outlier pride. When I canvassed for this list, friends were surprisingly eager to share, relieved to reveal guilty pleasures, and grateful for the opportunity to unveil their dorkiness.
Of course, notions of “dorky” are subjective. To clarify, it does not mean “bad.” How about: obvious, exuberant, unfashionable, twee, un-self-conscious, irritating, even a little desperate? Yet charming. Dorky evokes vulnerability, which, interestingly, often manifests as hostility. But not today. Today, you are among friends, and internet-fostered shamelessness, for once, is a good thing.
My gauge: you are driving, Ipodless, CD-less, and you can only pick up one radio station; classic rock, oldies, easy listening, Top 40. A song comes on that, if you were in the presence of someone “cool, “ you would turn off. Said person’s opinion matters to you, or you don’t want to upset them. But like I said, you’re alone. So you crank it, and sing along in secret. You embrace the dork. And it is good.
And speaking of singing along, please enjoy the corresponding Spotify playlist below.
3. MMMBop – Hanson
Like R.E.M., Isaac, Taylor, and Zac Hanson freely admit the downside of this monster 1997 hit: it’s annoying, uncool, and, say it with me: dorky. (Yet, also like R.E.M., they accept, celebrate, and bask in its power.) Ever the good sports, the brothers appeared in an SNL sketch in which terrorists – Will Ferrell and Helen Hunt – force them to listen to the song’s repetitive, effervescent, singalong sunniness until Isaac and Zac go insane and Will Ferrell – coincidence? NO – succumbs and… dies.