Her whole life, she was told she was “cool,” “chill” and all other manner of words alluding to a mostly tepid temperature. It was her tepidity that made her so cool, after all. So “easy to be with.” Deemed as such by men and women alike, but especially men, who enjoyed her laidback and tranquil demeanor. Indeed, one often had to wonder if perhaps she had dosed herself with a number of tranquilizers to be so calm all the time, even in the face of the most bristling circumstances (an earthquake, for example). She was the type you wanted around when you required a “yes” person, someone up for anything, any suggestion. A malleable creature with an “affable enough” personality behind all that aura of callousness. She just needed to be drawn out in order to extract any of it.
Nicholas was quite good at extractions. It was his speciality. And not just on an emotional level. He was a surgeon. His business was extracting parts and putting them back in. Only he didn’t feel so inclined to do so in the end with Kennedy, whose entire interior was eviscerated. Which certainly made her, from the outside looking in, even “cooler.” The “coolest.” It was a description she used to relish, particularly in her youth, when she cared so much about appealing to the opposite sex–aware almost immediately that, to be as such, one had to be aloof. Seemingly nonplussed by everything, including advances. For what was the harm in a little rape-y behavior if it meant some form of male attention? Wasn’t it worth it, after all? To be noticed?
Kennedy thought so. Or, had, at the very least, been conditioned as much to believe it was. Not just by the comportment of her mother with her father, who naturally ended up abandoning them anyway, but by the pervasive examples provided by society, pop culture and every institution in between. Whether it was Angela Chase or even someone as endlessly cool to the point of misanthropy as Daria Morgendorffer, Kennedy had seen nothing but positive reinforcement with regard to the emotional protection that came with being unapproachable and seemingly incurious. It was the thing that men flocked to like pigs to slop in a trough. And since it was the dictate of the universe that all women should inveigle a man into her body in order to fulfill her grand purpose in life, Kennedy decided to study the cool girl tropes and outdo them all. And she was very successful at genuinely believing in her invulnerability for a while. That is, until Nicholas stabbed and stabbed at her exterior until the veneer of coolness was all gone and it had to be admitted that at the core of what a “cool girl” ascribed to was the doormat tendencies of Annie MacDuggan in The First Wives Club.
It was fine, at first. She could still play off her doormat pliancy as coolness for a while before Nicholas finally unearthed that it wasn’t her “standoffishness” that made her so quote unquote cool, but her inability to say no to anything he asked of her. This is when he started to demand anal sex much more regularly. As though the epiphany unlocked not only the gate to her true essence but to her formerly perceived “too delicate” asshole. But now that he was aware she truly was up for anything (unlike the preconceived notion of a cool girl being “willful”), he couldn’t help but take advantage. Couldn’t help but exploit her physically and psychologically to her fullest. The fact was, she had blown the lid off this myth for him in such a way that he wanted to find other so-called “cool girls” and impose his desires and whims on them as well. The world had so many ductile females to offer, to be sure. And now that he was more aware of how to hone in on them, on the emblems of what they were sure made them cool (chiefly, cigarettes and sunglasses–maybe ripped up tights if she thought she was really cool), he couldn’t be stopped. Was in possession of a superpower, as far as he was concerned.
So it was that he parted ways with Kennedy. Most indecorously, as it happened. For they were out at a party thrown by a mutual friend when he took it upon himself to pursue another “cool girl” who was sipping her red wine alone on the fire escape while, predictably, smoking a cigarette. Cool girls didn’t vape. They had too “old of a soul” for that. Or so that was part of their shtick. See? Nicholas really had grafted quite a bit of knowledge from studying Kennedy for almost a year. And it was that night he decided to make his surgical extraction. Of himself from her–for he had already collected the innards he needed for his continued studies on another subject.
Watching them from her vantage point near the spiked punch bowl (she had become so uncool that she shamelessly drank punch instead of wine now), she began to regret everything she had ever taught herself about what it meant to be “chill.”
In that instant of watching Nicholas with his new lust interest, she apprehend that there is this false image of the “cool girl” as someone who is tough, strong–impenetrable. But it is an impenetrability that stems from the fear of being hurt or abandoned yet again, the fear of not being enough by revealing too much, therefore an innate desire to project a persona of disinterested detachment and “going with the flow” so as to spare any potential for further emotional damage. This is, in many respects, why the “cool girl” is almost as generic of an aesthetic as the proverbial goody two-shoes–the Sandra Dee (who also embodies the foil of the cool girl look later in Grease, because Grease addresses so many issues with the Madonna/whore complex) to a Betty Rizzo, if you will. And, as you know, even Rizzo turned out to be a doormat behind all that steely coolness.