Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Irony Of Nice

I have been called a lot of awful words in my life. Some of them are remarkably accurate. I have grown very thick skin. I'm divorced, remarried, the father of three girls and friends to several people of questionable character; there's not a lot I haven't heard. Yet, one 4 letter word, a horrible insult when studied,  I can't handle when it's used toward me.

NICE - (nais) adjective :
1) pleasant or commendable - "a nice day"
2) kind or friendly - "a nice gesture of help"
3) good or satisfactory - "they make a nice job of it"
4) subtle, delicate, or discriminating - "a nice point in the argument
5) precise, skillful "a nice fit"
6) Now rare fastidious, respectable - "he was not too nice about his methods"
7) Obsolete
a - foolish or ignorant
b- delicate
c- shy, modest
d- wanton

Notice how the dictionary listing of nice includes one negative definition and tags it at the end of the entry? That's how society gets you. Well I should say me, and the thousands of dudes who get called "nice guys" by people, especially by the opposite sex, and it becomes an insult. Nice guys finish last, nice guys finish in their hands, don't be so nice all the time; how many of you have heard those phrases and felt defeated? I was reminded about 2 years ago by a high school friend (oh how I despise The Facebook and glad I deleted it) about a girl we knew. The original story is pointless except that it brought back a memory of when I was my daughter's age, so 15 maybe, I "liked" this girl. One day, as I was finding the courage to ask her out, I overheard her exchanging scouting reports with her girlfriends about me and a couple of other guys I knew. I was called "the nice guy". It was clear, none of the girls had interest in me as boyfriend material. Now, I laugh at these girls because the one good thing about The Facebook is pictures. You see how they turned out at age 40. But, then, at age 15, I was devastated. Unfortunately, like a single A baseball outfielder who struggles with hitting a curveball and throwing to the cutoff man, you are branded for your high school career and into college.

My parents did an outstanding job raising me. My father is one of the kindest human beings on the planet. The worst thing you can do to him or around him is be rude or impolite. He instilled that into me early and often. I love him so much for it. My mom was the same. She is a good southern lady with manners and treats people by the golden rule. I think my problem was, and to a certain extent, still is, I took being kind, having manners, treating people with respect, combined with my caretaker, people pleaser personality and had "nice" run me over like a MAC truck.

My wife knows me better than anyone. She remembers to not call me nice. Naive, over-trusting, people pleasing, positive and pollyannic, but never nice. Puppies, quilts, fireplaces, and babies dressed for Easter are things you call nice. If you call a guy nice, you may as well call him late for dinner, because he isn't coming.

Today's song would have been an obvious choice if I hadn't blogged about Alice Cooper recently. Instead of No More Mr. Nice Guy, we'll go with another group that should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Social Distortion. Their lead singer and songwriter, the man's man, awesomely tattooed, Mike Ness would probably beat you senseless if you called him nice. It's why I idolize him. Since this blog post is about The unfortunate Story of my Life, this tune is perfect and prophetic. Play it loud. Nice guys....punk rock out.


  1. Is saying 'you're one of the good guys' verboten too? How about 'nice' but in a bad boy sort of way?

  2. yes and yes....although if you said the latter Bobina may raise an eyebrow or two...justsayin'

  3. As another guy consigned to "niceness", I relate. Serendipitously, I found this quote last night. I think it speaks to the matter...

    ‎"It has always seemed strange to me... the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."~John Steinbeck

  4. The problem with "nice" is that it is akin to "vanilla." Nice just isn't special. How would you feel about being told you have a good, or kind, heart? I know I'd prefer kind-hearted to "nice" any day.

    Oh, and nothing nice about Social D.. And that too is a good thing.