Despite genuine qualms about 'lad culture' at university, there is a far less offensive demographic who are too often neglected. Arguably, it is these young spirits, the 'wannabe cool kids', who need the most publicity. Now to clarify from the off, I'm not talking about aspiring thugs or even genuine binge drinkers. This kind of guy could get drunk on diet coke, as long as the illusion of alcohol is there. And illusion is indeed the key to the entire persona; a dash of 'popular potential' without the need to produce any qualifications of street credibility whatsoever. This kind of person flits erratically between personalities in an effort to appeal to a wider audience, to be loved by many and to be worshipped by all. Aspiring studs are akin to racing drivers who wear the strip despite never having stepped foot in a Ferrari; they just need people to 'believe'.
In an attempt to filter from main-stream into popularity river and eventually into Idolatry Sea, these guys cover their actual personality in a camouflage of aloof detachment; blasé by name, anal by nature. This person might waltz in to the library with a Domino's pizza at 2am, questioning why your deficient brain cells require you to work such unsociable hours, but who will also weep in a corner when they don't achieve 76 on their maths problems two weeks running. As much as these guys might try to imitate the bravado of a Year 10 who told their teacher to 'do one', in reality during their schooldays they were probably the kid who made trigonometry tribute cupcakes for Head of Department in an attempt to get a good UCAS reference. These funny souls will also profess perpetual bachelordom, but excitedly tell their friends they have a girlfriend after a whiff of perfume on a night out (this is usually a false alarm). Unfortunately for the social butterflies, this lothario demeanour can lead to them being deemed 'too sociable' to be promoted to positions such as fresher's representative and the like; a huge hindrance in the career of a university networker.
Another trait of the keen bean is self-canvassing. Rather than settling for the amusing anecdote like the rest of us, they shun hindsight and shout their way through life with glee, letting everyone know what a great time they are having, at the exact moment they're having it. This gives everyone else the impression that they are the capital of all fun, so you should definitely make friends with them. Cool kids in training are practically religious about voicing their triumphs, regardless of whether this means waking up neighbours during midnight conquests. You see, success with the ladies must not go unnoticed, on the rare occasions it is achieved.
The gym is also a key player in the transformation from normal boy to popular pro. Even if muscles aren't developed immediately, the body must give the appearance of brawny expansion. Complaining about weights, walking like you are holding fat puppies under your arms (to leave space for muscle which could sprout at any moment) are sure-fire ways to achieve this. Producing receipts for protein shakes at haphazard moments also adds a subtle flourish to the fit boy façade.
However beware; being cool is an exhausting quality and can cause people to be irritable, so to question their methods is akin to asking James Bond why he wears a clip on bow tie; expect stand offish-ness and a defensive insult about your own dress in return. Equally, placing these aspiring young things in the B-team of any sport will go down like a cat at Crufts, so you can expect tantrums. Their reputation is hard enough to construct without you ruining it, and what better stage is there than a football pitch? The A-team's astroturf, that's what.
Yet herein lies the irony; these socially hyper people are often massive softies. Students of popularity are beautifully conflicted individuals; acting drunk whilst totally sober, promoting single life whilst fabricating girlfriends and playing the bee's knees whilst actually being off the wall like the rest of us. The very young man who requested an article to be penned in his honour did so by donating money to charity; epitomising the paradoxical nature of his species: seeking exposure by fighting poverty. These people are actually brilliant friends who provide a lot of comedy thanks to their attempts to pull girls, propagate more friends and play it cool. Laugh at them and they won't laugh with you, but carry on laughing anyway and it will help them look funny.
Megan is currently fundraising for Restless Development., helping young people get their foot on the ladder worldwide. You can visit her profile and donate here