In a swarm of cultural excellence, there's a lot of pressure to become our highest self. If we're not chronicling this pursuit with the chic-est of friends, artfully arranged bruch-scapes, and peacock-like selfies with the hashtags to prove it, a lot of us might struggle feeling like under-par, irrelevant, pedestrians. But maybe..... there's a certain liberation and luxury to not have to chase the cool and finding a rest where you are. Embracing that wiggle-room in the mundane: somewhere in between semi cool and borderline uncool. Indie-label outfit (ebay) and an old minivan. Overgrown, unkempt eyebrows just kind-of passing for "on trend?"  Actual painter suit instead of the pricey coveralls you really want. Trashbags of mess hidden from the housecleaners minutes before their arrival. Whole 30 and midnight cereal. My own granny panties accidentally tucked in to my daughter's not-freshly-cleaned-but-folded crib sheets at pre-school naptime. Truth: I don't know how to answer when fashion professionals ask who makes my sweater, but it was found in a stranger's trashcan (...and my jeans are eight years old and two sizes too small, but I splurged on some $12 sheer socks from &OtherStories so I'm feeling cool). We could go on and on with our scrappy highs and lo's and we certainly had a laugh at Vankatesh Rao's take on "Premium Mediocrity."

It is not hard to learn to pattern-match premium mediocre. In my sample of several dozen people I roped into the game, only one had serious trouble getting the idea. Most of the examples below, and all the really good ones, came from others.
Premium mediocre is the finest bottle of wine at Olive Garden. Premium mediocre is cupcakes and froyo. Premium mediocre is “truffle” oil on anything (no actual truffles are harmed in the making of “truffle” oil), and extra-leg-room seats in Economy. Premium mediocre is cruise ships, artisan pizza, Game of Thrones, and The Bellagio.
Premium mediocre is food that Instagrams better than it tastes.
Premium mediocre is Starbucks’ Italian names for drink sizes, and its original pumpkin spice lattes featuring a staggering absence of pumpkin in the preparation. Actually all the coffee at Starbucks is premium mediocre. I like it anyway.
Premium mediocre is Cost Plus World Market, one of my favorite stores, purveyor of fine imported potato chips in weird flavors and interesting cheap candy from convenience stores around the world.

-Venkatesh Rao