How To Be Cool and Tough and The Naval Academy

When I was in college there was a piece someone wrote called How To Be Cool and Tough — A Frat Boy’s Guide To Life and it became a mini internet sensation. Everyone read it because it was hilarious and made fun of fraternity culture in a way that was both clever and insightful.

My friends and I decided to made our own version, called “How To Be Cool and Tough at The Naval Academy” and after 20 years I unearthed it from the internet archives and decided to reprint it here. After reading it again, I’m happy to say I think it has stood the test of time, but I suppose you can decide that.

Please enjoy… “How To Be Cool and Tough at The Naval Academy”, written by myself, my roommates Phil Suchyta and Ted Driscoll (class of 2005), and the firstie section written by Eric Montgomery (class of 2004) .

How To Be Cool and Tough at The Naval Academy


How To Be a Cool and Tough Plebe

1. Tell people how cool and tough you were in high school.

Make sure everyone knows how many touchdowns you scored senior year,
and how many girls you got with at the mad keggers you’re buddies threw.
The only acceptable answers for the question “what position did you play”
are quarterback, running back, full back or linebacker. All these positions
are reserved for people who are cool and tough.

2. Being ratey is cool and tough.

The coolest plebes are the ones that rate what they skate. The most important
thing to remember about being a ratey plebe is to tell everyone the things you
get away with. You may or may not have done these things, but telling people
that you do them anyway will give them the impression that you are cool and

3. Be a varsity athlete.

This term may extend from football player to water polo manager. Hey, at
least you don’t have to drill. Going to drill is neither cool nor tough.
Because you are a varsity athlete you can brag about all the cool and
tough MO’s you go on, and how many upper-class you are friends with. You
are excused from Wednesday evening formation, which means you don’t have
to get in uniform. Most cool and tough athletes eat in Dahlgren but Chinese
take-out is an acceptable alternative. King Hall and Cluck-U chicken are
neither cool nor tough.

4. Never go to Saturday morning training.

All kinds of company training are neither cool nor tough. Anyone who
goes is either a Joe or just happens to be up that early. Always find
ways to get out of training, even if it involves bending the truth about
scheduled events (see “Be a varsity athlete”).

5. Always brag about how cool and tough your squad is.

When in Chemistry class (and not asleep), tell other plebe friends how your
squad is so chill and you never have to know any rates. This may not be true,
but they will never know. Play it off like you are the reason your squad is
so chill, and if you weren’t so cool and tough, they would flame on you.

6. Never request permission for anything.

98% of the upper-class won’t yell at you, and only half of them may even care.
Let’s face it, they are just gonna say yes anyway, why not just go ahead and
do it. Even if someone happens to care, it’s not like they aren’t going to let
you become a youngster.

7. Put cool and tough pictures of high school on your cork board.

There is no better way to prove you are cool and tough than by photographic
evidence. Pictures of you drinking with buddies or with crazy-hot chicks are
a necessity. When your guy friends ask about the smokin’ girls in your pictures
you can say something like, “Yeah, I hooked up with her a bunch of times, it was
pretty cool… and tough.”

8. Always complain about the girls.

You have gotten with so many hot girls that seeing the lack of hotties at the
Naval Academy is a gross injustice. Whenever possible you should comment on the
idea of “dark siding”. Dating another midshipman is never cool or tough, no
matter how cool she may seem. Dark-siding is for quitters.

How To Be a Cool and Tough Youngster

1. Spoon plebes the first time you meet them.

Training is not cool, or tough. You are not a middle-aged man and don’t
need to be called “Mr. Cool”, or “Mr. Tough”, “dude” or “man” will suffice.
When talking about plebes to your youngster friends, it is always cool and
tough to refer to the plebes by their first names, especially if your
friends have no idea who you’re talking about.

2. Always tell plebes how cool and tough you were as a plebe.

Plebes are impressed by anything, and they will believe anything. Tell
them things like “I was so cool and tough, I walked out of Bancroft
(never call it “Mother-B”) in civvies, drunk and on a Friday while all
my non-tough and cool friends were shining shoes”.

3. Wear cool and tough PE gear.

Now that you’re a youngster and you can wear un-reg PE gear, the possibilities
are limitless. Always spend at least 10 minutes planning out what cool,
un-reg PE gear you will wear that night. Examples of cool and tough attire
include but are not limited to, winter working blue pants with flip-flops
and a wife-beater, sweat pants with a tight undershirt and worn out
sneakers (PT gear), and anything that has your varsity team’s name on it.
Slippers and blue-rims are neither cool nor tough. It is cool and tough to
own as many underground tee-shirts as possible. The underground tee-shirt
guy is cool and tough. Anyone who wishes to be cool and tough must own
at least 4 items from Underarmour. Underarmour will make anyone look cool
and tough.

4. Exercise your right to carry-on.

Now that you don’t have to slime around the P-ways, there are plenty of other
options available to you. A cool and tough youngster may consider a razor scooter
or a skateboard. You don’t actually need to be good at riding you just need to make
a lot of noise as you skate your way to sign taps every night. It is also cool and
tough to make sure all the plebes see you while you show off your newfound freedom.

5. Have cool and tough uniform standards.

People who spend time making their uniform look good are not cool and tough.
Ironing military creases is time you could have been spending arranging your
un-reg PE gear for that night. For youngsters only insignia on your winter
working blues shirt is necessary. Any other insignia, especially on ike
jackets, raincoats, p-coats and overcoats are neither cool nor tough. Wearing
a scarf with your overcoat is never, ever, cool or tough. The words shirt stay
should not even be uttered in your presence. If it is, it is cool and tough
to roll your eyes, look up and say something like, “maybe shirt stays will be
cool and tough when mustangs go out of style!”

6. Give cool and tough come-arounds.

Everyone knows come-arounds are not cool and tough, but if you have to do
them, there are ways of ensuring you are cool and tough. First, never hold
your come-around in any type of uniform, even reg PE gear is questionable.
Second, look at the pro-book like it’s written in Greek, or any other cool
and tough language that you don’t know. Say things like, “wow, I was way
too cool and tough to actually look at any of this shit when I was a plebe.
Third, assume your plebe knows the whole book and you are just wasting his
time. If he gets a question wrong just play it off like that kind of question
would never be asked anyway. “Okay well you don’t know the mission? They
never ask that crap anyway…”

How To Be a Cool and Tough 2/c

1. Never train plebes.

Training plebes is not cool and tough. Though it may be your job, there are
plenty of other homo’s to do it for you. Whenever possible you should make
comments about your classmates who train, and say things like, “wow, what a
Joe” in front of as many people possible.

2. Civilian clothes are always cool and tough.

You can wear civilian clothes, and they will make you cool and tough. Even
on days where you can’t leave because of duty, civilian clothes must still
be worn. Having a key chain that you can twirl around your finger is also
cool and tough. After coming back from a weekend on Sunday, it is cool and
tough to stay in civvies until you go to bed, it doesn’t matter that you’re
not on liberty anymore.

3. Only play a sport if the sport is cool and tough.

Everyone knows that as a plebe, doing any kind of sport is cool and
tough. Now that you have privileges, a car and more weekends, sports will
just take time away from your busy schedule of boozing and picking up chicks.
The only acceptable sports to play are football (not sprint), basketball,
lacrosse and rugby – because they can drink a lot. Other sports such as
sailing and swimming are not cool and tough. Rowing crew is about as cool
and tough as a bag full of dicks.

4. PT like you’re cool and tough.

Everyone has to PT. To make sure you are always cool and tough while doing
PT, you should make sure you get some things straight. To be tough, you have
to be strong and have big muscles. The only way to get big is to go to the
gym, and the only cool gym is ‘MacD’ (unless you can go to Ricketts). You
should never be in regulation PE gear in MacD and having tee-shirts that your
little brother should be wearing is always encouraged. Doing pull-ups in the
hall on the metal bars is not cool and tough.

5. Drink like your cool and tough.

Taken from the original website (we couldn’t have said it any better)

“This is by far the most important thing to remember if you ever want to be
cool and tough. The more you drink and the more you talk about how much you
and your friends drink, the cooler and tougher you will become. Also, don’t
be afraid to do some really dumb shit when you’re drunk. Doing dumb shit makes
for good stories and good stories make you cool and tough. Especially good
stories about what you did while you were drunk. Never puke. Cool and tough
people never throw up. If you feel like you’re going to throw up, just do some
blow or something. Also, the cool and tough man should never pass out. However,
since passing out sometimes cannot be controlled, if you must pass out, do so
in a place where everyone can see you and think about how cool and tough you
are. Every once in awhile, piss yourself when you are passed out to show them
that you just don’t care because you are cool and tough.”

How To Be a Cool and Tough Firstie

1. Don’t hold a billet.

A true cool and tough Firstie is an MIR both semesters. Let your Joe
classmates have the stripes and run the company. Stripes mean
responsibility, and that can only get in the way of you getting drunk and
hooking up with girls. If you have to have a billet, make sure it’s
something like wardroom, so you can be in charge of spending the
company’s money on beer for tailgaters.

2. Go out every night.

It is your duty to go out every night, even if you’ve got homework, EI,
meetings, or anything else to do. That other stuff isn’t important. What
is important is that you make an ass out of yourself in DTA five nights a
week (and Wednesdays at the O club). A cool and tough Firstie knows where
all the drink specials are for every night of the week.

3. Don’t go to formations.

This is just one of those perks of being a Firstie, and you deserve to
take advantage of it. Bully your platoon sergeant into marking you
present for every formation, whether or not you’re actually there. This
is especially important for morning formations. Since you’re a Firstie
with all that liberty, you’ll need the extra sleep time in the morning to
recover from all the beer you drank the night before. When you finally do
get up, be sure to brag to all your friends about how drunk you got last
night, and don’t bother taking a shower or shaving before you go to class.

4. Always get a good parking space.

This applies even if you’re rolling in through Gate 1 at 1955 on Sunday.
Even though it’s hopeless, take a loop around Farragut and Dewey trying
to find a space. Remember, if you’re smart, you’ve got your platoon
sergeant marking you present, so you have time to spare. Finally settle
on a parking space at Hospital Point, then spend the rest of the night
bitching to anyone who’ll listen about having to walk all the way back
from out there. Or be “that guy” that parks on the grass or somewhere
where it’s obvious you’re not allowed to, then bitch when you get your
stickers scraped.

5. Have an apartment in town.

You’ve gotta have a place to have your crazy parties and hook up with all
the girls you do, right? Of course you’re not supposed to do it, but this
is one of those rules that only the pussies follow.

6. Make the right service selection.

The only cool and tough service selection is Navy pilot. Your stereotypes
about all submariners being gay and all Marines being uptight pricks are
absolutely right. The only way you’re going to keep impressing girls once
you get out of here is if you can tell them you fly a jet. And if your
low OOM keeps you from getting pilot, remember, it’s not your fault.
Those losers who studied and played the Man’s game for four years are
tools, and besides, they won’t have four years worth of cool and tough
stories like you will. In a few circumstances, SWO is an acceptable
alternative, but only if you’re so cool and tough that you can’t handle
wasting more than five years of your life in the Fleet.