Nobody's Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship

Nobody's Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship

by Melanie Shankle


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Nobody's Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle

There is nothing as precious in life as a friend who knows you and loves you in spite of yourself. Yet over the last couple of decades, we’ve substituted the joy of real friendship with cheap imitations. We settle for “community” on Facebook and Twitter and a series of text messages that allow us to communicate with someone without the commitment. We like each other’s beautifully filtered photos on Instagram and delude ourselves into believing we have a community. But real friendship requires effort. It’s showing up, laughing loud, and crying hard. It’s forgiving and loving and giving the benefit of the doubt. It’s making a casserole, doing a carpool pickup, and making sure she knows those cute shoes are 50 percent off. Written in the same comedic style as the New York Times bestsellers Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room, Nobody’s Cuter than You is a laugh-out-loud look at the special bond that exists between friends and a poignant celebration of all the extraordinary people God had the good sense to bring into our lives at exactly the right moments. From the friendships we develop over a lifetime to the ones that wounded us and the ones that taught us to love better, Melanie Shankle reveals the influence our friends have on who we were, who we are, and who we will become. And on a day when our jeans feel too tight, our chins have decided to embrace hormone-related acne reminiscent of our teen years, and our kids have tested the limits of our sanity, they are the ones who will look at us and say, “Nobody’s cuter than you!”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781414397481
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 04/07/2015
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 226,731
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Melanie Shankle writes daily on her blog, Big Mama. She is a graduate of Texas A&M and loves writing, shopping at Target, checking to see what's on sale at Anthropologie, and trying to find the funny in every situation.Most of all, she loves being the mother of Caroline and the wife of her husband, Perry. The three of them live in San Antonio, Texas.

Read an Excerpt

Nobody's Cuter than You

A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship

By Melanie Shankle, Stephanie Rische

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Shankle
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-9748-1


Diamonds Sometimes Really Are a Girl's Best Friend

"We'll be Friends Forever, wont we, Pooh?" asked Piglet. "Even longer," Pooh answered.


I DROPPED OFF my daughter, Caroline, at camp for the first time ever yesterday and am in the midst of what can only be described as an emotional hangover. Perry and I helped her get her room for the week all set up, and then I hugged her good-bye as her little eyes filled with tears. At that point I basically had to sprint down the hallway without daring to cast a look back over my shoulder lest I be like Lot's wife and dissolve into a pillar of salt. Or maybe just tears.


Sometimes a mama likes to incorporate some Old Testament—level drama.

I managed to hold it together until I got a text from her later that night, after we'd already made the three-hour drive back to San Antonio, that read, "I'm not having fun. Please come get me," followed shortly thereafter by, "The matrices here are really hard and I can't sleep." Which confused me for a moment, because she is at soccer camp, not math camp. I felt her pain, though, because I do remember thinking that matrices were really hard back in the days when I still had to attend math classes to learn things I've never used one time in real life.

But then I realized she meant mattresses, not matrices. So maybe instead of focusing so much on soccer, we should spend some time at spelling camp.

Either way, she had begged to go to camp and gave me her word that she'd stay the whole time, and this was now one of those moments when I had to practice the art of tough love. Which is so easy in theory, but so hard when your baby girl is texting you little emojis with tears rolling down their cheeks. In short, I was like Ron Burgundy and in "a glass case of emotion."

I showed the texts to Perry and began to cry. But dads are generally the bad cop in these situations, so he was unsympathetic to her plight. He looked at me and said, "You're getting all worked up. She's safe, she's secure, and it's only for four nights. She can do anything for four nights."

Technically, I know he's right, but there's always that nagging thing inside me that realizes Caroline is our only child and if we screw this up, no one will come to visit us for Christmas when we're old. We don't have a backup plan, unless you count our dogs, and everyone knows that dogs are the worst gift givers at holidays.

So I texted my best friend, Gulley, who happened to be visiting her mom in College Station, which happens to be only five minutes away from Caroline's camp dorm. My texts were a flurry of all my feelings and emotions and anxieties, and finally Gulley texted back, "Can you just call me?"

I told her I could but if I heard her voice, I knew all I'd be able to do was cry. She replied, "You can just cry."

And so I did. I called her and sobbed all my fears and worries until I had nothing left but a bad case of the hiccups and her offer to go sleep in the dorm with Caroline if it would make me feel better.

Because there are some things that your best friend just understands in a way your husband never will. When I got off the phone an hour later, I said a prayer of gratitude that Gulley has been a constant in my life every day for the last twenty-five years. How many phone calls have we had when one of us sat and listened while the other poured out every possible emotion until there was no possibility that there were any feelings left anywhere else in the world? The answer is too many to count.

* * *

It's funny how you can have almost no memory of the first time you meet a person who eventually becomes so important to you. Some relationships are so pivotal in your life that it seems like surely you must have felt a little bit of electricity run through your veins the first time you met them—some type ofjolting realization that feels like an internal neon sign flashing, "YOU'VE FOUND ONE OF YOUR PEOPLE! YOU'VE FOUND ONE OF YOUR PEOPLE!" But I really don't remember the first time I met Gulley.

After I graduated from high school, I ended up at Texas A&M by the grace of God and the generosity of my high school geometry teacher, who chose to give me a passing grade in spite of the fact I still can't come up with a proof for a theorem. Or a theorem for a proof. I can't remember, but it turns out I was right back in 1989 when I said it wasn't going to be a deal breaker to go through life without this knowledge. However, I was a master in the art of charm and bribery in the form of apple fritters, and you shouldn't underestimate how far that particular skill can take you in life.

I was so ready for a new start in a new place, and that's what College Station became for me. With one exception. I had a serious boyfriend who'd ended up at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, and I wasn't ready to let go of the relationship. So instead of immersing myself in the full Aggie experience, I spent a lot of my time driving to see my boyfriend and ultimately chose to transfer to SFA for my spring semester.

Let's all reflect for a moment on how smart and levelheaded eighteen-year-old girls are in general.

I'd made some really good friends during the fall of my freshman year, thanks to my brave step of going potluck on a roommate and hitting the jackpot with a sweet girl named Elizabeth and our suitemates, Leslie and Tiffany. But the pull of the boyfriend was too strong, and I was too insecure to walk away from the relationship at that point, even though I will be the first to admit now that the end was long overdue.

Within minutes of my arrival to Stephen F. Austin that spring, I knew I'd made a terrible mistake, but I was way too stubborn to admit it at that juncture. My boyfriend and I fought all the time, and I realized more every day that I'd given up way too much for way too little.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Texas A&M, and I think so much of that is because I almost let it slip out of my hands. I'll never take for granted what that university did for me—in a real way, it caused me to make one of my first adult decisions. Because when it came down to it, my desire to be back in College Station ended up being stronger than my fear of walking away from my high school boyfriend. Granted, I was only eighteen, so that decision looked a lot like calling my daddy and crying, "I've made a terrible mistake! Please help me figure out how to get back to College Station!"

When I arrived back at Texas A&M in the fall of 1990 as a sophomore, it took everything in me not to kiss the ground like a world traveler who has just returned to her homeland. I was so grateful to be back and vowed to immerse myself in every possible activity and live my college experience to the fullest. I went through sorority rush, I signed up to be part of student government, I registered to take sixteen hours, and in what turned out to be the most important decision of all, I tried out for a group known as the Diamond Darlings.

The Diamond Darlings are essentially bat girls/hostesses for the Texas A&M baseball team. They are chosen through a series of applications and interviews with athletic department personnel, and now there is even a test to assess their knowledge of baseball. The test is part of the tryout process because during my first year as a Diamond Darling, one of the girls kept referring to the umpire as the catcher.

So obviously not everyone was trying out because of a pure love of the game.

And no, that girl wasn't me. I may not know about geometry, but I know my sports.

These days I usually hesitate to mention I was a Diamond Darling, because unless someone went to Texas A&M and knows what the Diamond Darlings do, there's a certain stereotype that seems to come with saying you were a bat girl. It's kind of an assumption that all we did was hang out and date the players, which was strictly forbidden and we never did unless there were extenuating circumstances, like if he was really cute.

What people might not guess is that being a Diamond Darling gave me some of the best memories of my college career. It's the reason that to this day if I hear Van Halen singing "Top of the World" on a spring day, I feel an urge to get in my car and find a baseball game to watch. It's the reason I watch the College World Series every year and cry no matter who wins.

I'm sure I could have done other things that would have looked better on a resume, but I guarantee those activities wouldn't have been nearly as much fun, given me as many good memories, or taught me that you should never bend at the waist to pick up a baseball bat while wearing short white shorts.

Always bend at the knees.

There are some lessons that can't be learned in a classroom.

Anyway, I'm certain I met Gulley for the first time at one of the early Diamond Darling meetings, but I can't remember the specifics. However, I do vividly remember meeting Jen, who would also become a lifelong friend, because she came sweeping into that meeting in a denim wrap skirt, Cole Haan loafers, and so much self-confidence that I found her completely and totally fascinating, especially when I found out she was only a freshman. I wasn't sure if I liked her or wanted to run away from her. I can say now that I'm glad I chose not to run.

It wasn't until later that semester that I noticed Gulley, which is so funny in hindsight because now Gulley is the type of person who lights up a room when she walks in. The party begins when she comes in, but I think she was a little more reserved back then, trying to figure out who she was and how she fit into the world. Our friendship really began when the Diamond Darlings drew names out of a hat to determine our Secret Santa recipients for the month leading up to Christmas. I opened a small piece of paper that read "Amy Gulley" and had no idea I was basically unfolding a huge part of my future.

I spent the next month buying her little gifts as part of the Secret Santa exchange. I'm sad to say that some of these gifts involved using paint pens to draw baseballs on metal tins. The college me enjoyed getting her craft on. Truthfully, the college me enjoyed anything that didn't involve studying or typing a paper on a Brother word processor or basically any activity that would have helped my grade point average.

There was even a day when I was walking through Post Oak Mall (This is the mall in College Station, although calling it a mall is kind of an insult to malls everywhere. It didn't even have a Gap back in 1990. But it did have a Foley's, a department store that sadly doesn't even exist anymore.) and discovered Gulley working at the Ski and Sea Shop. I went in to visit with her for a minute and was drawn to this sweet girl with huge brown eyes, a smile that went on for days, and an easy laugh.

Which is why I was so thankful when we ended up sitting right next to each other at the Diamond Darlings Christmas formal a few days later. Back in the early '90s, I was a girl who typically got excited about the prospect of an occasion that required a dress made by Gunne Sax with sleeves bigger than your head, but I had been dreading the Christmas formal. The boy I was dating at the time had a job that wouldn't allow him the time off to be my date, and I had no interest in going without him, especially because I didn't know the girls very well at that point and it felt pretty intimidating. Not to mention that the formal was being held at a hotel in Waco for reasons that are still not clear to me. Do you know what not one person in history has ever said without irony? "Let's go to Waco to PARTY!"

But I had been informed by the captain of the Diamond Darlings (which is a real thing, by the way) that attendance at the formal was mandatory. So the guy I was dating arranged for his best friend to be my date, and since he lived in Waco at the time, it was easy enough for him to drive over and be my plus-one for the evening. I'm not sure why I agreed to this plan.

That's how I found myself having a truly miserable, awkward evening in Waco, Texas, with the exception ofmy awesome side ponytail and bangs that were teased to epic proportions. But then Gulley sat next to me because we were told to sit next to our Secret Santas, and we began to laugh and talk and, best of all, lament about our respective dates. She was there with a serious boyfriend who, unbeknownst to him, was on his way out of her life, and I was there with a boy I had virtually nothing in common with other than his best friend. Gulley and I spent that night bonding over whose date was worse, and I promise you that I won because my date was wearing a Christmas-themed sweater vest, and that's the nicest thing I can say.

As the famous line from Casablanca goes, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Of course there was no way my mind could have comprehended all that this friendship would become. There are probably only a handful of times in our lives when someone who will change us forever walks in—when we find someone we can love with our whole hearts, who will challenge us and shape us and make us feel like the world is safer and brighter just because they are in it. A person who loves us for exactly who we are, yet teaches us to be better because of who they are and how they live their life.

A person who, twenty-five years later, will listen to you cry on the night you drop off your daughter at soccer camp.

That's Gulley.

It just took me the first nineteen years of my life to find her.


Excerpted from Nobody's Cuter than You by Melanie Shankle, Stephanie Rische. Copyright © 2015 Melanie Shankle. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Chapter 1 Diamonds Sometimes Really Are a Girl's Best Friend 1

Chapter 2 When We Were young 9

Chapter 3 Happy Campers 21

Chapter 4 The First Cut Is the Deepest 27

Chapter 5 The Chapter with More than Its Share of '80s References 39

Chapter 6 The Knitting of Souls 55

Chapter 7 The Fantastic Four 67

Chapter 8 The Importance of Showing Up 79

Chapter 9 All That Glitters Is Not Gold 89

Chapter 10 Whatever You've Done, Whatever You've Become 103

Chapter 11 An Ode to Citronella, Why I Don't Camp, and the End of an Era 111

Chapter 12 Let Sleeping Friends Lie 121

Chapter 13 I Just Found Out There's Such a Thing as the Real World 127

Chapter 14 Wiping Tears and Bottoms 135

Chapter 15 Living Life to the Realest 145

Chapter 16 Ain't No Party like a Wrapping Party 155

Chapter 17 The Road Goes On Forever and the Party Never Ends 159

Chapter 18 Going through the Big C-and I Don't Mean Chocolate 173

Chapter 19 The Wonder of It All 193

Appendix 1 The World according to Gulley and Mel 201

Appendix 2 Thirty-Seven Reasons to Love Mel 207

Appendix 3 So You Want to Take a Road Trip 211

Appendix 4 Ten Characteristics of a Best Friend 219

About the Author 221

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Nobody's Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a new favorite book! If you're a female and have friends you need this book! I laughed and cried my way through this book. You get to follow along Melanie's life reminiscing her friendships all the while remembering your own. There were multiple times that my husband or daughter came into the room where I was reading to ask me what was so funny! I would not recommend reading this book in public. It may result in people seeing the ugly face you make when you cry. Maybe you're into that sort of thing- I'm not. Don't forget your tissues! My one regret about this book is that after such a descriptive narration of their hair for Tiff's wedding there was no picture. The only other book that I have read so far this year that is on this level is When God Stopped Keeping Score from Author R.A. Clark. It takes a serious look at the power of God and forgiveness.
jbm More than 1 year ago
Funny, loving, the best girlfriend book !!! If you have best friends, then you have to read this book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I appreciate the author sharing her life stories and her faith but I kept thinking...its just an ordinary life-like mine-maybe I should write about my friends and author a book! I had a difficult time finishing the book and would not recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my book club monthly chouice, and it was really good. I paln on buying copies for my daughter, daughter-in-laws and also older granddaughters.
booksandwindows More than 1 year ago
This memoir about friendship is a combination of everything I was looking for: laughter, heart, and sentimental stories that remind us what friendship looks like. Melanie Shankle has a unique kind of humor, which just leaps off the pages as you read. I found myself laughing several times throughout her book, even pausing a few times before I could continue reading: it’s just that funny! I loved the quotes about friendship that marked the beginning of each new chapter, and the fun chapter titles that gave you a preview into what Melanie would be talking about next. I got an overwhelming sense of the wonderful friendships she has had in her past and present, and how each of them has shaped her life in one way or another. It’s true, too, how people change us. Our friends become part of who we are and how we live, and Melanie gives us a glimpse into how her friends have made her life better, richer, and fuller. This book makes me want to hug my friends tight and tell them how important they are to me. The laughs are just as important as those hard moments. And friendship is about the fun times, the hard times, and the moments that shape us into the people we are today. *Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers who has provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*
IoanaN More than 1 year ago
This is Melanie Shankle's book and I can join the fans group and agree this third book of hers is better than the first two. Who will like this book? Definitely those who have friends, duh! Also those who are children of the 80s and enjoy some good 80s references, those who take no offense in sarcasm and can appreciate a sarcastic joke. I laughed a lot while reading this book. I would read my book and suddenly come to a line that made me burst into laughing, and by the time I reached the end of the sentence I would burst into laughter at least once more. Then I would read that sentence again because it was too good to get over it that quickly. What's the book all about? Melanie's friends. It's mostly about her best friend of almost 25 years, Gulley, as she calls her. The stories in the book cover Melanie's important friendships over the years, starting from friends in the cul-de-sac, primary school, junior school, high school, and all the way to college and life after college. The book makes you want to read more and more. The friendship Melanie and Gulley have is something that I am sure all people want, and I absolutely loved reading their story. Those who have "known" Melanie's friends from reading the blog will enjoy a more behind the scenes look at their stories. I keep saying that the authors whose books I have read from the moment they released their first book keep getting better and better. This is the case with Melanie Shankle. This book really is better, and I am sure the next one will be even better. I am positive that if she'd read this she'd think "OK, right, no pressure." with a sarcastic tone. There is a reason why her blog is in my feed and her books in my library, and this book on friendship confirmed that reading her words is a good thing to do indeed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this so much!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a great book about friendship!!!  Makes you relive all the wonderful memories you have had with your own friends!  Bought two copies to send to my BFFs!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Get a copy for you and all your girlfriends, read it then go have coffee with your girls!! This fun book will remind you of all the fun times you had growing up and the friends that helped shape the women you are today. Celebrate that!! Melanie is a funny, tell it like it is writer. You'll want to be her BFF right away! After you read Nobody's Cuter than You get her first book Sparkly Green Earrings (if your a momma) and then Antelope in the Living Room (even if your not married yet) After reading her funny stories and you want more...she has a blog... Big Mama. You won't regret the time you spend reading Nobody is Cuter than You . If your lucky you'll find your own Gulley!!
JViola79 More than 1 year ago
Every once in a while, we need a good reminder as to the value of friendship. Women, being the more emotional of the two genders, can struggle greatly in this area of maintaining healthy relationships with one another. 978-1-4143-9748-1In her newest book, Nobody's Cuter than You, Melanie Shankle shares about her best friend and the way in which they have managed to keep their friendship alive over twenty five years. In the reading, we come to realize, friendships, both short lived and long, serve purposes in our lives. They help us to become better versions of ourselves, teaching us to love better. But they teach us even more .... "Sometimes God brings relationships to an end as a way to move us along to where he has called us to go" "Friendships are fragile and we need to handle them with respect and reverence." "Nothing will erode the foundation of a friendship quite like the resentment that builds from wanting what someone else has without even factoring in that maybe you have something they want as well." Friendship takes no joy in the pain of another. I laughed and I cried as I read through the tales of friendships. At times, I closed the book and went back in time to friendships I had in high school and youth group. The book is an easy and enjoyable read. Melanie writes in a down to earth style sure to draw every reader in close. The book is rich with quotes on friendship from others which added to my enjoyment of this book. I can highly recommend this book as it was like sitting with a girlfriend over a cup of coffee - it sank deep into my soul and did my heart good. "Real friendship requires effort. But there is nothing as precious in life as a friend who knows you and love you in spite of yourself." ****Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I am disclosing this as required by Federal Trade Commission.