The Thermos Theory

Hyperion is still planning on running his first MOVIE MATTERS column tomorrow. He says you have until midnight to get your questions in. (The way he's been whining about no one sending in questions, you'd be doing me a favour by sending one in.)

He wanted to run a serious column but I talked him out of it in favour of this one instead.
From 2003....


the Hyperion Chronicles

“When I grow up I’m opening a shelter for battered shrimp”

#110 The Thermos Theory

Friends, Romans, and Nova Scones (or is it Nova Sco-ese?); lend me your ears. Or, in this case, your eyes (although let me add that this column sounds better read aloud). Sometimes when I write I am talking about funny things, like war, famine, or pestilence, but today I am very serious. I have an issue on my heart of utmost importance to bring to you. What I’m talking about controls the universe; more than money, more than power; even more than the Ancient Order of Magical Pygmy Rabbits we’ve all secretly feared have been calling the shots ever since Ringo Starr became the 5th Beatle. Friends; I am talking about the essence of what powers the world, what turns legend into myth that soon becomes long forgotten. I’m talking about The Thermos Theory.

What is The Thermos Theory, you ask? Well, for starters, it’s three words that begin with letters T-H-E. You think about for a minute while I stall and come up with something else. More importantly, what it actually means is this: What is the function, the raison d’etre, if you will, of a thermos? I’ll give you a hint: the function of a thermos is not to make the trains run on time, not to make fallen forest-trees heard, or even to artificially perpetuate the careers of no-talent hacks like Stephen Hawking and Tiger Woods. No, the purpose of a thermos is to keep cold things cold, and hot things hot.

And therein, my friends, lies the Eye of the…I mean secret to the universe. Think about it. Everything you see on TV and movies, everything you hear on the radio and at the supermarket, every book, newspaper, and shampoo ingredients list you read revolves around at least one of two goals: looking Hot, or being Cool. And that’s The Thermos Theory.

You see, looking Hot and being Cool are the One Power of the Universe, the two halves of the One Power, if you will. If you’re a guy, you intrinsically understand this. Being Cool is everything to a guy. It’s what drives idiotic behavior like spending $50,000 to upgrade a $15,000 car. It’s what makes you camp out for two weeks in line to be the first to see Yoda throw down. It’s what makes you smoke, drink, listen to Dave Matthews (which trust me, nobody would like on their own), and all other sorts of anti-social behavior. You’ve heard that men are defined by their jobs? Sheep Swallop. It’s propaganda given to us by the I.R.S. to make guys work more and therefore pay more taxes. Guys only work to get money to buy the cool cars, stereo equipment, and every single power tool every made; all requirements of being Cool.

In fact, there is only one other reason guys work to make money at all, and that is to attract Hot Girls. This rivals and at times even surpasses being Cool. Guys will throw away cars, friends, job opportunities, self-respect; anything and everything for a Hot girl. Guys will betray the Mafia, risk life-and-limb playing football, and if the girl is Hot enough, even communicate their feelings, all in the quest for the Holy Grail that is the Really Really Hot Girl.

But ladies don’t get off scot-free. You may be sitting there reading and laughing at the mind-numbing stupidity guys will go through, but you’re not innocent in this global conspiracy. To paraphrase Chris Rock:

“You’ve got on heels—you aint that tall. You’ve got on makeup—your face don’t look like that. You’ve got perfectly highlighted hair—your hair don’t look like that. You’ve got on a Wonderbra…”

You see what I mean. If guys are far more concerned about finding that Hot significant other, well, girls are a whole lot more concerned about being that Hot significant other. You can say it’s men and their Neanderthal ways that force you into this ideal of unattainable perfect beauty, but ask yourself this: who runs the clothing companies, who writes for Cosmo, 4-H, and the other fashion magazines? Women and gay men; that’s who. You have met the enemy, and they is you.

As for Cool, admittedly women are not as into it as men are, but consider this: the newest fashionable shoes, the new Jennifer Anniston hairstyle, the new fad-diet, the new G.I. Joe figures; what are these things but the latest attempt by women to be Cool? And when you’re not attempting to be Cool, you’re searching for that Cool guy. Ever swooned over a movie star, musician, or medical textbook illustrator? Yes, many of them are good looking, but many more aren’t. It’s the Cool factor. And if it’s not, it’s the money, which would make you look Cool to your friends, or at the very least, pay for you to become Hot.

You see friends; it’s become a vicious circle, or wheel, if you will, that both sexes are completely caught up in. And this has lasted over time, this wheel, making it a wheel of time. Think about high school. My friend Mandela gave me a great website on why certain people (read: nerds) weren’t cool in high school. Check it out for yourself at It’s a fascinating read, covering many topics of what it’s like to be a teenager. For those of you who’ve forgotten, or those of you so old you never were that young (you know who you are), it’s a great article.

But it never answers to my satisfaction the fundamental question of why people are Cool. It doesn’t seem to make sense. Suddenly in junior high or so there is this Cool group. No one ever defines it, but everyone instinctively knows what it is. The web article lists some traits, like looks and achievement, but I’ve been to high school—several times—and I found there to be no hard-and-fast rules. Coolness cut across gender, race, and bathing hygiene levels. Certain people were just Cool, and you knew it to look at them as easily as you’d know if they were white or black or B+ blood type.

Then, in high school, the group changed. Some stayed the same, while others joined or fell away. What got me was that a new kid would move into town and within a week could be in the Cool camp. I mean, couldn’t there have been a Coolness waiting list to get on or something, to give us, I mean those other kids a chance? But I digress.

The point is; you couldn’t figure it out then anymore than you can now. Sure, now you’re bright and articulate or from Newfoundland, but even today your life is no more free. You still watch certain shows, buy certain clothes, drive certain cars, and support certain wawrs, all without ever knowing why. (And yes, I spelled wars that way, to get it to rhyme with cars. I told you to read this out loud.)

Well, friends, I’ve blown the lid off this conspiracy. I’ve hopefully shed some light on this back-seat hanky-panky. Now you have the truth behind what is actually powering your decisions. Now you have the facts on why you suddenly want Thai food when, let’s be honest, you’d never heard of Thai food before. Now you know the dark force behind every new shade of lipstick, every new horsepower-straining engine, every new snack-sized fat free cake, and every new combination PDA-Telephone-Toaster-Watch-that-tells-the-time-on-Mars that comes your way. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Fighting the Magic Pygmy Rabbits wherever I find them,


April 7, 2003


Thanks to Tootsie for feedback

Thanks to Jerrica for feedback and research

Thanks to Tufloi for editing

Special thanks to Mandela for inspiration and the article

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