On Being Best Friends With A “Cool Girl”

My best friend, M, is magnetic. Her charm knows no bounds. I love hanging out with her the night after she goes on a date and the guy is sending her text after text to see her again. When she doesn’t answer because we are too busy with more important things like rewatching Basketball Wives fights, they will step it up to calling and leaving long, pleading messages. Or the time a guy stayed home on Saturday night while she and I were out, cooking her “an ooey gooey blueberry crumble” to prepare for her meeting his family the next day. She just moved to a new city and within the first, oh, maybe two weeks, four hot, smart guys had asked her on dates. Guys have given up lucrative jobs in other states for her. They’ve given up their commitment-phobic ways for her. They just go nuts for her. I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on what it is about her, but it hit me when I was reading this xoJane article. M’s secret? She’s a Cool Girl.

I, decidedly, am not.

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.
 Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”

-Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”

The thing about M is that she isn’t faking it. She legitimately loves food more than anyone I’ve ever met, and still has a tiny, adorable body that looks amazing in everything. Guys meet her and automatically want to be with her all the time, and she couldn’t care less. She’s always busy doing things that are more important to her than hanging out with guys, even if it’s lying in bed with her dog and Netflix. She doesn’t want commitment. She doesn’t need fancy dates. She doesn’t get jealous. And she is unapologetic about all of it.

I’ve learned some important life lessons in being friends with a Cool Girl. Mainly, I should speak up about what I want, even if it isn’t “cool.” And being a Cool Girl comes with its own problems. Stop rolling your eyes. She’ll meet a guy, get a crush on him, go on a date, and then he’ll become so obsessed with her that it’s off-putting. She wonders how they can like her that much if they barely know her. I can’t even count how many times this has happened.

The beautiful thing about this is that I’ve realized being a Cool Girl is something you’re born with. I can’t try to imitate her. It just doesn’t work. So instead of being quietly jealous about all the attention she gets, I’m delighted by it. It’s so far out of my scope of being that I can’t even get upset that I’m so different. This is the only time I will ever use this phrase: I’m tickled by how easily she wins people, especially men, over. Through being friends with a Cool Girl, I have realized that I’m absolutely not one, and that that is more than okay.

I’ve gotten way too excited about a guy and, as a result, totally wrecked a growing relationship. I’ve drunk sobbed after composing a text, agonizing over sending it, and getting nothing back when I finally do. I’ve changed in a lot of ways since those days, but I’m still not a Cool Girl. Most of us aren’t. But the more we own up to that, the less it matters. The more open we are about how being upfront about our wants and needs is not the same as being too demanding, the more we give ourselves permission to be fully-formed, complex human beings. The more we learn to not just be unapologetic about, but actually celebrate who we are, the more powerful we become. And personally, I’d much rather be powerful than cool.

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