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Steve McQueen was the King of Cool. But do you know how he died?

Steve McQueen? Super cool. Asbestos? Definitely not.

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Do you remember the actor Steve McQueen?

I mean, who doesn't remember Steve McQueen? OK, maybe people born after he died in 1980 wouldn't remember him. For those people, I will speak in the universal language of pictures. Spoiler alert: He's pretty cool.

Steve McQueen being cool on the set of "Wanted: Dead or Alive":


CBS Television, public domain

Steve McQueen being cool with his Jaguar and his horse, NBD:

CBS Television, public domain

Steve McQueen being cool while looking straight into my soul:

Steve McQueen being cool doing his own motorcycle stunts for the movie "The Great Escape":

There is even a song about how cool Steve McQueen is. You can listen to it right here. It goes:

"I wanna be, the coolest man you've ever seen. I just wanna be your Steve McQueen."

Hopefully we are now all on the same page.

Steve McQueen was the King of Cool.

He was an avid race car enthusiast and earned a fair bit of cash while motorcycle racing in the 1950s. In 1974, he became the highest-paid movie star in the world. Everything he did was just. so. cool. Acting, racing, smoking cigarettes (which, let's be real, is not cool, but people thought it was cool, so we'll give him a tiny break).

But McQueen died of lung cancer in 1980.

"Ah-hah!" You say. "This is why you shouldn't smoke cigarettes! Because of the lung cancer and stuff." That is accurate. You shouldn't smoke cigarettes because of the lung cancer and stuff.

BUT WAIT — there's more to it.

McQueen's type of lung cancer is directly related to asbestos exposure.

In 1947, McQueen joined the Marine Corps, but he didn't totally lose his rebellious side.

Steve McQueen being cool playing a guy in the Navy in "The Sand Pebbles" in 1966.

After running off with a girlfriend for a couple weeks while he was a Marine, McQueen was put into the brig and later spent quite some time scraping asbestos off pipes on a ship. He was also exposed to asbestos while wearing fire-retardant racing suits.

In 1979, McQueen was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

"Ugh," you say. "That is not what is supposed to happen to totally cool Steve McQueen, because asbestos is very uncool."

You're right. Asbestos is decidedly not cool.

What's so uncool about asbestos? Let's review:

  • Today, asbestos-related diseases kill up to 15,000 Americans each year (a figure based on both federal death records as well as estimated deaths likely due to asbestos) and at least 107,000 people worldwide.
  • Most people don't show symptoms of an asbestos-related illness until at least 10 years after their exposure to asbestos.
  • Despite the fact that its health effects have been widely documented, asbestos is not banned in the U.S.
  • 30 million pounds of asbestos are still used in the U.S. each year.

What could be less cool than that?!

But that's the thing about asbestos: It's legal, still used in the United States, and kills the cool dudes.

Asbestos did not care how cool McQueen was, how famous he was going to be, or how much of a movie star icon he would become. Asbestos is horrible and scary for everyone, and dozens of countries all over the world have banned it — but not the U.S.

In 2012, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization awarded McQueen the Warren Zevon "Keep Me in Your Heart" Memorial Tribute Award. Below, you can watch the tribute video made for that occasion. It has an interview with McQueen's widow, Barbara, as well as a quote from Jordan Zevon, a spokesperson for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

As Zevon says, "We're celebrating a tough guy who died from this disease that even takes the tough guys away from us."

Steve McQueen? Super cool. Asbestos? Definitely not.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

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