There used to be a time where I didn’t have a favorite ice cream flavor. I was going to visit my grandmother and she asked me what my favorite ice cream flavor was so she could stock up in her freezer. I told her Gwen’s favorite was chocolate chip. She said to me well I didn’t ask what Gwen’s favorite was I asked what your favorite was. I drew a blank. Whenever I went to the grocery store I would buy either regular chocolate chip for Gwen or mint chocolate chip for my boyfriend. I hadn’t bought a flavor for myself in what felt like years. How fucked up was that?! I could not answer the question of what my favorite ice cream flavor was! I vowed to make changes to how I live.
Shit- It wasn’t that easy, though. The boyfriend went away (read- he dumped me) but I still didn’t buy my favorite flavor of ice cream. I would look into the freezers at the grocery store and see mint chocolate chip and realize that I didn’t need to buy that flavor anymore because we no longer lived together and then I would cry and then I would leave the store without any ice cream at all. Fuck. My boyfriend also loved to watch hockey. He was a season ticket holder and our dates would be scheduled around game times. I never liked hockey, it was boring and hard to follow. We broke up but yet I continued to watch hockey. I bought a house without him and I hung LET’S GO PENS signs in the family room and I would sit and watch every single game while cheering loudly. It was comforting for me to know that although we were no longer together, I knew what he was doing each week at game time, and I could do it with him.
Eventually I met someone else and my hockey watching habits changed. Now I was a beer drinker. I would seek out the exclusive craft beers and check them into an app so everyone on social media could see what a great beer drinking girlfriend I was. I would rate the body and hops and pick out the distinguishing flavor profiles and talk to the bartenders to learn as much as I could. Except I didn’t really like beer. I liked that my boyfriend liked beer and that it was something we could like together.
It wasn’t until I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn in 2014 that I realized I had become the cool girl- “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.”)”
Whoa. My mind was blown because this was clearly written about me, right?! Fuck. I was the cool girl.
I decided to make some changes in my life. It didn’t hurt that I was also going through the process of getting pregnant. I would use the year of ivf and pregnancy to make myself uncool- to learn more about who I am and what I actually liked to do. First- celibacy. That was easy enough. There weren’t many men knocking on my door while I was 6 months pregnant with somebody else’s child. Second- no more hockey and no more beer. My friends thought I was crazy. But you LOVE beer! How could you just stop drinking it? Nope, never loved it. Pretended to love it but would rather drink battery acid. (Which actually I did ingest battery acid once and it was very painful and my parents had to call poison control and I had to drink a half gallon of milk and yet even that was better than a beer with 20 IBU.) Third- find out what I like to do on my own. What actually are my interests and hobbies? Turns out I really love to listen to Broadway musicals (who isn’t obsessed with Hamilton these days, though?) and I also love whiskey. I perfected the art of making a manhattan (not while pregnant) and watched every episode of Mad Men with due diligence (Can Jon Hamm just be my hobby?). I realized I loved to travel and I didn’t need a boyfriend to plan my trips for me. I found friends who had similar interests and if I couldn’t find a friend then I went alone. I watched a shit ton of wheel of fortune and jeopardy and screamed at the idiot losers on my tv every night and I enjoyed going to bed at 8pm sober. I was becoming myself- a person separate from the latest penis person I was fucking. More importantly, though, I was becoming happy.
I recently hooked up with a great guy and he was pleasant and kind and attractive and it was a very nice evening. As he was driving me home the next morning he asked me where the closest fast food restaurant was because he was hungry and wanted to get some breakfast. I told him I have no idea- I don’t eat fast food.