When I was a kid, when I wasn't reading every fantasy book I could lay my hands on, I was reading the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison. As a kid I was attracted to the bright, cartoony covers featuring cats and thigh high socks, and the strange slang that Georgia used was practically a different language. Thank goodness for the glossaries in the back, right? Now as I look back, I look at that series as equal parts motivation to keep me reading as a millennial, guilty pleasure, and nostalgia machine. Who didn’t want to be friends with Georgia Nicolson? She was delightfully awkward, increasingly weird, but always seemed to be there for her friends. She is as tragically forgotten icon who deserves more attention than she receives from us now.
Unfortunately, the woman who gave Georgia her words tragically passed away at the age of 63 yesterday, and it feels almost as though Georgia herself had died. Who would Georgia be without the charming voice Louise Rennison gave her? I feel like I learned so much from Georgia as she stumbled her way through life and love, and to celebrate this, I’ve gone through each book in the Georgia Nicolson series and put together a lesson that I’ve learned from each one. Spoilers will obviously abound, but hopefully you’re here because you’ve already read the series. So instead of mourning Louise Rennison, let’s celebrate what she has taught us through this wonderful series. In the words of Georgia herself, they were fabitty fab fab!
1. You Don't Have to Keep Dating a Dude You're Not Into
In Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging , our hilarious heroine Georgia decides to learn how to snog (that's "make out" for you Americans out there) from Peter, a boy who happens to use a little bit too much saliva when he kisses. Georgia is unimpressed and yet somehow is roped into dating him in order to spare his feelings. After a week or so of this, Georgia has had enough and decides to dump him, guilt or no guilt. Sure, she has her best friend Jas do it, but girls are often encouraged to be polite, be nice, and let a guy down gently. The fact that Georgia kicked Peter to the curb because she just wasn't feeling it was endlessly inspiring to me.
2. Sometimes You Have to Play Like It's the Last Day of Your Life
In On The Bride Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God , Georgia defends a girl from school bullies, the Bummer Twins. Now sure, the girl that Georgia defended is the aptly named Nauseating P. Green, but that doesn't mean that she deserves to be picked on. Convinced that she's going to be murdered the next morning by the twins, Georgia throws herself into her school field hockey game, scoring a point at the end of the game in a grand show of inspiration. Sure, she got tackled by her boyfriend's scorned ex, but does it matter? Georgia giving it her all ended up being an inspiration to me.
3. It's Not Easy To Watch Exes Move On... Even If You've Moved On Yourself
While everything is going well between Georgia and the Sex God (aka Robbie) that doesn't mean that Georgia is particularly happy with the fact that Dave the Laugh, her ex from Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging is allowed to go off and be happy with Ellen. We've all been there, having a hard time with the fact that someone has stopped kissing you and has started to kiss someone else, and reading about that human emotion made me realize that it was okay to feel that way myself sometimes.
4. There Are at Least Three Different Kinds of Attraction
In Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants , Dave the laugh introduces Georgia to three different types of "horn." In Georgia's awesome vernacular, we know that to have "the horn" for someone means that you're sexually attracted to them, and now we learn the three different ways one can have it. There's the Particular Horn, the attraction you have only toward one person (like between Georgia's cat Angus and his one true love, Naomi the sex kitten); the General Horn, when you are attracted to more than one person (like the attraction that Dave the Laugh has for both Georgia and Ellen); and the Cosmic Horn, when you are attracted to everyone and everything (like the attraction that Georgia has for everyone). This elementary introduction to polyamory was incredibly influential on me, and I hope it was for others as well.
5. Exes Can Actually Become Really Great Friends
In Away Laughing on a Fast Camel , Georgia has been left bereft when her boyfriend Robbie up and moves away to Kiwi-a-go-go Land (aka New Zealand) and leaves her behind. Luckily there's a new boy in town, the handsomely Italian Masimo. It's desire at first sight for Georgia, but she doesn't know how to go about it. Who does she turn to? Why, Dave the Laugh of course, and he helps her every step of the way. During a time when I believe that to break up meant to burn all signs of friendship to the ground, it was wonderfully refreshing to realize that this didn't have to be the case. Apart from their secret desire for one another, Dave and Georgia are friends, and the fact that one could be friends with a boy (even if you dated him) was an important lesson for me to learn.
6. Two Inches on a Map Converts to Hundreds of Miles
This one is pretty easy, when Masimo and Georgia are both in America, Georgia thinks it will be a hop skip and a jump to visit him in New York City even though her parents are in Memphis simply because the two cities seem close on a map. Given the fact that I can barely navigate my way out of a paper bag, this was a very important lesson for me to learn.
7. Always Support Your Friends
I technically learned two things from Startled by His Furry Shorts : 1.) They stopped making those adorably cartoony covers featuring the bottom half of an English schoolgirl, and 2.) Always support your friends. After one of Georgia's closest friends announces that she's engaged to her boyfriend (for a wedding super far off in the future, of course), instead of wallowing in her sadness over Masimo's sudden ambivalence toward committing to her (and not to mention the fact that a certain Dave the Laugh has suddenly declared his love for her), she decides to throw herself into planning the perfect viking wedding for her friend. Would it have been easy to dismiss her friend's hasty engagement (she is 14 after all), or hijack the fun with her own tale of woe? Sure, but Georgia does not roll like that, thus making her a perfect role model.
8. When It Rains It Pours (and Sometimes That Sucks)
In Love is a Many Trousered Thing , Georgia is stuck at a crossroads. Dave the Laugh wants her, Masimo is ready to commit, and all of a sudden Robbie the Sex God has returned and is looking for her hand. I have never been the kind of person to declare the love finds you when you stop looking for it, but doesn't that always seem to happen? Georgia's exasperation with this concept gives me life, because when you're in a drought you pray for rain, not to drown.
9. If You Keep Kissing Someone, Perhaps There's a Reason Behind That
In Stop in the Name of Pants! Georgia is still stuck between three potential loves, but she just can't seem to stop snogging Dave the Laugh. We all have those guys that never seem to fully click dating-wise but still seem to linger around, and for the most part that's because we need to address the attraction head on and figure it out, lest they linger in a dating purgatory. This wasn't exactly a lesson Georgia herself learned, but by watching her back and forth with Dave for so many books, it was an easy lesson for me to learn.
10. Sometimes It's Best to Date the Person Who Likes You for You, Regardless of Sex God Status
At the end of the series, we learn that Georgia finally chooses *spoiler alert* Dave the Laugh. While most of us probably (definitely) saw it coming, it was still sweet to watch it finally unfold, and that's for one important reason. Throughout the series, we see Georgia grow up, but her rabid desire to be the perfectly cool girlfriend to both Robbie and Masimo had her running in circles and stressing out, and yet every time she's with Dave she can be nothing but herself, and Dave still enjoys her anyway. As a young girl, this was a beautiful thing to learn. We don't need to contort ourselves into pretzels in order to catch the men of our dreams, because if we have to do that they aren't actually the men of our dreams. Sometimes you just need to look at the guy who doesn't mind if you trip up every once in a while, or go to a fancy dress party as a stuffed olive... that's the guy worth keeping.