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I think I was five. I know it was Sunday, because Sunday night was Muppet night, a big event in my house. It could have been a re-run, but for me, seeing Deborah Harry sing her Blondie hit One Way Or Another to a troupe of Muppet monsters was the beginning of something original: Cool. Cool is not a concept that comes quick to a kid; it is too abstract, too subjective and ephemeral, and up to that moment I had no idea that something so obscurely alluring existed in my cozy world. I didn’t have a name for it then, and even now, I find cool a hard thing to define. Maybe it was the slinky way she moved, or maybe it was the insouciant way she wore her slinky clothes. Maybe, perhaps, I discovered cool in her combination of silliness and self-possession: Look up her appearances on the freaky early 80s series TV Party, and she exudes nothing but grace, even when surrounded by a supporting cast more outré than Muppets, and even when she is delivering a lesson on the proper way to pogo. I caught that episode on DVD recently, and was dumbstruck by Debbie all over again. Whatever cool is, she will always personify it for me. And I still wish my hair looked like that.

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