That Girl

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            She’s a cool girl. Scratch that. She’s not just a cool girl, she’s that girl.

She’s hot. She’s got these cascades of ebony hair and grey, green eyes. She’s got legs from her ballerina days and people really can’t help but notice her.

She’s laidback. She knows how to talk football and shotguns Busch Lite and tells dirty jokes. She goes along with anything and problems don’t seem to faze her.

She’s smart. An economics major, a sarcasm minor with a 3.6 GPA.

She’s popular. She skipped freshman orientation to go to a party off campus and she dated an older, greasy baseball player and she believes flirting isn’t cheating.

She doesn’t really know how it happened, she swears, but maybe it’s because she’s always been that girl, the one who smiles as she breaks hearts and the one who doesn’t give a damn if you like her or not. She didn’t earn her role; she was given it and in turn, she owns it.

She’s just that girl.

“I used to keep eyeliner in my bra when I went to parties.”

            She’s rarely seen without a face full of makeup. Her desk seems to have a thin layer of foundation dusted across it. Run a finger through it and turn a different color. If she needs a touch up, her black eyeliner is always on hand. She even brings makeup to the gym, so that if she sweats her foundation off, she can paint it right back on. She swears by Benefit BadGal mascara, but insists her makeup is a natural look.

She never lets her hair pool in its natural waves. Instead, she rips and rips aggressively through each strand with a hot iron tool until its pin straight. Her friends make fun of her, she says, as she recounts how many times she has re-straightened the same pieces of hair over and over.

If she walks past a mirror, her eyes graze the reflection she’s primped and fussed and admired, making sure she’s satisfied with the results staring back at her.

Because hey, to be that girl, there is an image. It’s a full-time commitment, but she seems to manage the job.

“People always say I’m only friends with pretty people, but I can’t help it if my friends are pretty.”

            Her friends are real. She picked her own roommate before summer orientation and they have shared a dorm room ever since. The two always seem to be bickering about something. They’re like sisters, though, she insists as her roommate steals the last Luna bar she had stored under her bed. Her roommate is conceited, but then again, so is she. Her eyes tell the shared trust between the two as she recounts the heartbreaks, the first dates, and the celebrations they’ve endured the last four years they’ve shared together.

She cares, although she would like to pretend that she doesn’t. The friends she’s made coming to college are ones she knows she will have a life time with. The ones who defended her when upperclassmen girls started nasty rumors about her and the ones who picked up the shards of her heart after her nasty breakup with her boyfriend and the ones who come to her with tears in their eyes, begging for advice.

Her friends might be thought of as just pretty, but she has a heart underneath all the thorns she guards it with.

“In her eyes, he could do no wrong.”

            She dated a boy on and off for two and a half years in college. They met the first night out at school at a baseball party he was throwing. She was a freshman and he was a junior; it was the beginning of their love story. Apparently, she doesn’t believe in love and now, looking back on their relationship, she hates to think that could be what it was.

Her boyfriend was that guy. Should be perfect for that girl. But he was notorious for a different reason. He was sleazy. Hair gel, flat-brimmed hat, and oversized, baggy sweatpants, the whole package. The entire student body knew he was a player just from the looks of him and he had enough nicknames to prove it. He was known to have a parade of girls lusting after him and he used it to his advantage, discarding them as soon as they gave him exactly what he wanted.

People thought she was different though. She thought she was different. That girl is supposed to be different – she could win his heart. And she did. For a few months at a time.

He proved to her on more than one occasion that she wasn’t different.

People believed she could actually be different, yet she was constantly warned about how her boyfriend was one of those ‘bad guys.’ She heard rumors, but she never believed any of them because he promised her they weren’t true. There were whispers of him throwing parties without inviting her and finishing the night with girls that weren’t his girlfriend. A girl even told the cheerleading team that she had a spent more than a few wild nights with him, but rescinded the tale when confronted about it. He squashed them anytime she mentioned them, even becoming angry with her for ever wondering such a thing.

She stood by his side and up until the very end, she always believed him. She always looked at him like he was the world and she was just living in it.

Looking back on it, she wished she hadn’t.

“I can’t eat healthy food without smothering it in hot sauce.”

            And she means it. Her wooden bowl full of hearty grilled vegetables and rice are stained the brightest of oranges as she continues to pour more of Frank’s Red Hot all over her concoction. She promises she isn’t always such a stickler with healthy food, but with Spring Break right around the corner, it’s hard not to become regimented with some type of diet.

            She’s unorganized. Unorganized is a nicer term for it. She’s dirty. Her bed is unmade, economics notes torn and scattered, with barely any room to sit. Weeks-old workout shorts are in a pile next to her bed. Her laundry basket is overflowing and she laughs explaining she can’t find any quarters to wash her clothes. An open Cheez-It box litters her floor and a sour gummies bag sprays sugar all over her desk, coupling with the foundation powder dustings. Messy is one thing, but she is dirty.

“Girl’s got serious resting bitch face.”

            She won’t deny it either.

Her face is cold and hard and with her green eyes, she seems to be glaring at anyone who gets in her way. Being who she is, she isn’t exactly approachable. When her guard comes down though, she laughs when people say they’re intimidated by her.

            A dinner at the school cafeteria is a social event and the way she struts down the aisles, she makes it her catwalk. Everyone’s whispering about something during the meal, whether it’s the latest walk of shame, a controversial Yik Yak, or the newest frenemies. But just for one second, they’re whispering about her.

“Worst hangover I’ve ever had? Probably that time after I almost had to be carried out of the bar.”

            She’s not even Irish, but the girl sure drinks like she’s still abroad in Dublin. She’s not one to try and hide the habit either.

Her kitchen is decorated with shot glasses. A capless, almost empty bottle of Burnetts stinks the kitchen with it’s residue sticking to the countertop. Painted signs spruce up the wall showing off pinup girls with witty dialogue bubbles, saying: “Wine – the Classy Way to Get Drunk” or “Every Night is Ladies’ Night.”

She goes out on Wednesdays and Thursdays to the local bars during the week, but never skips class the next morning. The earliest she’s ever started drinking was at eight in the morning on Saint Patrick’s Day with a shot of Bailey’s in her Dunkin Donuts hazelnut iced coffee. She’s starting to hate the house party scene her school is known for on the weekends and insists the city is the only place to go out in now.

Her roommates are usually the ones needing to be taken care of during their drunken shenanigans. She’s stopped them from sending regrettable texts, from kissing boys, from drinking what could set them over the edge. She’s helped them escort their demons out the door, when they make a mistake or twelve the night before.

Her own moments are rare. She’ll dance on a table maybe, but she reassures that it never really goes beyond that. The one time she got kicked out of a bar was because she had been using a fake ID.

She hit a rough spot after her breakup and a few times, her friends said it was unlike her to get to that level. She never seemed to do anything stupid, but when she seems to have had a bit too much, a blank stare crosses her face and instead of letting everyone know what’s on her mind, she is instead quiet.

Applause for her – she rarely gets hangovers. Every once and a while a slight headache, but with a bottle of Dasani and a dose of Advil, she’s ready for the next round. Never anything too soul-crushing or horrifying that would make her slow down.

It’s fun for her. To go out to the bars, to make boys chase her and buy her drinks, to dance along to girly Katy Perry songs. She’s always the one reciting Tom Petty’s infamous quote to her friends, begging them to go out one more night with her. She says: “You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So, stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink until sunrise. The work never ends, but college does.”

Her reason is college and her excuse is college.

“I didn’t want to go abroad after I signed up for it. I always believed I would miss it here at school. Honestly, I didn’t…”

            She almost didn’t even go. Her boyfriend was giving her a hard time about leaving to study abroad and because of that, she ignored the problem. She thought the solution was to give it up.

            But after the dramatic uproar of a breakup, she realized maybe change was the best thing for her right now.

So, she went. And she never turned back on her decision.

            She didn’t want to leave college or any of the people behind. Applying early decision as a senior in high school, her school had been a perfect fit for her. But when she got to Dublin, to her new university, she realized there was so much more to be offered.

            She rode camels in Morocco, drank wine straight out of the bottle on gondolas in Venice, ate croissants in Paris, tanned on the beaches of Gibraltar, and spent her in Galway. She was a cliché and loved every moment of it.

“At that point, I just wanted people to know he cheated on me.”

            Those rumors about her boyfriend – all true.

            She learned later that a lot of people, including some she thought to be her friends, knew the whole time. They believed she already knew, while she believed in him.

It wasn’t real for her until she saw physical evidence: a nice, fat hickey on a petite, blonde girl’s neck. The school is so small, that word got around and soon, she couldn’t really deny the claims anymore.

            He lied to her face though and had the girl lie for him too. When she didn’t believe him for the first time in their tumultuous relationship, he lied again and told her they had only made out drunkenly at the bar.

They didn’t just make out.

            And once this was revealed to her, girls started coming forward. It did happen. They all happened. He would throw parties all of the time and not tell her, how could it not occur? He had the reputation, how could she be so blind?

            People hid things from her, but still, she seems to blame herself for the wrongs he did to her. She hated that she always seemed to come back for more, thriving on their shared drama. Every battle they had seemed to kill her a bit more, but she never wanted to give up on him. She looked at him like he was a saint and in turn, he treated her like the sinner.

            She’s damaged, but she seems to be doing just fine. After a year, she can look back on it, recount the nightmares, and not let them phase her. She’s damaged, but now she’s guarded. But truth be told, how could she not be?

“Me? You really think people look at me like that? Shut up.”

            She’s a cool girl. She’s not just a cool girl, she’s that girl.

            In a small school, everyone knows that name and that face. Freshman or Senior, she’s still identifiable.

            She fixes herself up to go everywhere, but she cares about what people think, her image to the rest of the school. She portrays herself as hardened, but get her laughing and find her soft spot. She’s smart, too smart, but she hates everything about Economics and hates it even more that she knows she’ll work in finance after graduation. She never dresses up really, but she refuses to wear flared pants because they freak her out and she dislikes high heels because they make her feel like a gangly giraffe. She was catapulted out of her comfort zone of her small college community when she chose to study abroad her junior year and because of that, enveloped herself in a new kind of world in Europe. She wears spandex shorts and Lululemon to the gym, but she’s still competitive with whoever she’s running next to on the treadmill. She insists love isn’t real, but it’s only because she so badly wants to be wrong.

There’s more to being that girl. Just ask her.

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