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Being Nice Does Not Guarantee An Invitation to the Party

July (my last post) was a long time ago, and there has been a lot of water under the bridge.

The d-i-v-o-r-c-e is almost final (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=912DKxD0H1U), and it appears there might be a buyer for the house. Life moves on!

It becomes difficult to reflect on what it means to be a Nice Guy. We Nice Guys, in the end, just want to be liked. Not in a Sally Field kind of way (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWtUVDG5M1w), but in a genuine, sincere, “I’m so glad to know him” kind of way. Ask yourself this question: If you are hosting a dinner party, how do you decide who makes the guest list? Do you invite the guy who is a raging tool but happens to be dating your BFF? Probably. Do you invite the guy who is sure to make everyone laugh, but only after drinking a few bottles of wine and three or four Jager bombs? Maybe. Do you invite the guy who hasn’t showered in a week but can strum a few chords on the guitar? Oh, sure you do! Do you invite the guy from the apartment upstairs who seems shy but who holds the door for you, asks if you need help carrying your groceries upstairs, or offers his umbrella when it’s raining? Hmmmm, that’s a tough one. He’s a “Nice Guy,” right? What’s wrong with him? We Nice Guys know your way of thinking and, unfortunately, this makes us try even harder to be….nice. We can’t get the “kill them with kindness” mantra out of our heads. As I’ve said before, it’s a curse.

I suppose the challenge for you, dear reader (all two of you), is to consider the type of person with whom you want to associate. I’m not just talking about now; I’m talking about the rest of your life. When you find yourself approaching middle age and begin to reflect on the type of folks you counted as friends, will you remember fondly the tool, the drunk comedian, or the smelly guitar player? Will you think of them as people who enriched your life or taught you how to treat others, or will you think of them as doofuses (my mother’s favorite putdown) about whom you now only laugh? This is the challenge the Nice Guy presents to you. It’s kind of the Golden Rule thing – if you treat people nicely regardless of their perceived shortcomings, they will treat you the same way. How do you wish to be treated? God, I think there have been shared videos on Facebook about this kind of thing!

If you are lucky enough to find someone who truly values niceness, that person will recognize your spirit – how you are wired – and do everything in his or her power to understand you, know you, and listen to you. That, friends, is what it means, at the core, to be known and loved. It is the secret of a true relationship.

Now….Jager bombs on me!!!

Anti-nice Feels Good!!!

It’s been a while since I last posted, and the separation agreement still has not been finalized. The ex and I mutually agreed that we would sort it out between ourselves and eliminate the financial nourishment of the legal community. Alas, I sent her some suggested changes about a month ago and have not heard word one. You think she’s stalling? Hmmm…..

I recently considered how difficult it is for a Nice Guy to be a d**k, i.e. anti-nice. I am confronted with this daily. I supervise people who could be considered chronic under-achievers and am asked to approve things daily with which I do not necessarily agree. Oh, how easy it would be to fire these reactionaries and/or tell the others “no.” But, because everyone considers me to be a Nice Guy, I feel compelled to acquiesce and listen to their lame justifications or approve repeated absences for doctor appointments, physical therapy, holistic enema therapy, ocular acupuncture, etc. It really starts to grate on one’s nerves.

Today is Independence Day Eve. My office closed at 2:00. Two of my operatives were to participate in a meeting from 1:00-3:00, and one asked me what should happen about the meeting since we were closing early. Reschedule it for only one hour? Cancel it altogether?

For one fleeting instant, I felt guilty and thought I should agree to cut the meeting in half. Then the anti-Nice Guy took over and I was shaken back to reality. “No,” I said. “You need to stay until 3:00 to wrap up this discussion.” As it turned out, the person was OK with that. I felt empowered. I felt strong. I felt like a leader. I felt anti-nice, and it felt good.

The ex recently whined about having to pay a property tax bill for her minivan. Initially I took the bill and intended to pay it, thinking that was the right and Nice Guy thing to do. The more I pondered it, however, the more I realized I was only enabling her. If she wants to be independent, she must learn to pay her own bills and meet her own obligations. I gave the bill back to her, and she figured out a way to pay it on her own.

Moral of the story? Don’t underestimate the Nice Guy. He can be a real ass when painted into a corner.

Right on!

Bend Over…We Must Extract Alimony

So, it has come to this. The ex has sent me, via my attorney, a draft separation agreement.

I skipped over the boilerplate legalese and went straight to the alimony schedule. I read the numbers and laughed. What? You mean you want ___ dollars each month for alimony and child support, even though I have paid all the bills for the past eight months for a house I’m not living in? Am I that much of a chump?

Now, you see, I don’t object to paying to ensure my kids are warm, well fed, dry, clothed, inebriated by Wii and Netflix, etc. What it really boils down to is a) whose proposal is this, the ex’s or her attorney’s? and b) must I tolerate being dumped AND financially ass raped? The answers are a) the attorney’s and b) no.

Like I said, I don’t mind supporting the ex-family, but I don’t want it to be irrelevant whether or not the ex-wife even works. Jeez, what is a Nice Guy to do? This seems to be the true struggle for anyone, I suppose. Do I cave and just pay what her attorney asks, or do we discuss it sensibly without the attorneys getting involved? We shall see. All I know is that my primary concern is my children, and I’ll do whatever it takes to ensure a sense of normalcy for them.

Now if I could just get wife #1 to quit sending me Facebook messages….

Nice Guy vs. Bad Boy

Recently I watched a YouTube clip in which witty yet slightly obnoxious college guys asked random coeds whether they preferred Nice Guys or Bad Boys. While no clear definition of these classifications was given, it quickly was obvious that the young ladies gravitated to the Bad Boy.

I could not understand this and struggle with it to this day. Why would a young woman – or any woman for that matter – be attracted to a guy who, from time to time, treats her like s**t or verbally/physically abuses her? Is that what a Bad Boy does? Not really being one, I can’t answer the question.

It strikes me as odd that a person would want to catch flak or grief without necessarily deserving it. That’s like wishing the manicurist would insert bamboo splinters under your nails instead of buffing and polishing them. Life if stressful and painful enough. Why is it so illogical to want a Nice Guy who treats you well and doesn’t get all medieval on you when something you do isn’t to his liking? I guess I need to be enlightened. It’s one thing for a Nice Guy to call you out if you are, in fact, full of it. It’s another for a Bad Boy to belittle you in public because his “standard” isn’t being met.

Think about it. Don’t you deserve better?

Angry Beard

I was really angry last summer. You can read some of my earlier posts and probably figure out why. What did I do to display my anger without physically hurting myself or others? I grew a beard.

Now, it had been many years since I had appreciable facial hair. In the mid-90s I had a mustache which some of my friends referred to as “Guido.” This, I believe, was homage to a mustachioed, Italian friend from college who was known as “Cabbie.” I also had a goatee for a few months, but it became a maintenance nightmare and a safe harbor for miscellaneous crumbs. So, to show the world how rebellious I truly am when angered, I opted for a full beard. Unfortunately, it came in mostly gray. It also wasn’t the full, grow-thick-in-a-week mass that hairier guys are capable of. I decided to manage it as “controlled stubble,” which was just as much work as shaving every day.

My angry beard* received mixed reviews. I shaved it off once I came to terms with what was making me angry (and when I figured out I looked ten years younger without it). You see, some of us just want to do something a little different or unexpected once in a while. Some people get piercings or tattoos. Others have an affair or buy a sports car. I grew a moderately successful beard.

The next time one of your male friends or coworkers goes beyond a couple days’ worth of whiskers, reach out to him and make sure he’s OK. He might be hurt or angry. Be careful if you tell him to shave it off – it could the equivalent of cutting off an emotional link.

*Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, has no entry for “angry beard.” It did, however, ask me if I meant “angry beavers.”

I Just Can’t Help Myself!

Today is my birthday. I reflect on the past year and realize that, overall, my life is better than it was six or twelve months ago. It was nearly one year ago that my wife told me she didn’t want to be married to me anymore. She loved me but wasn’t “in love” with me. It took me a while to wrap my brain around that one!

Once I comprehended the gravity of what she was telling me, I decided it was important to do the right thing and make sure she and our sons were safe, warm, dry, not hungry, blah, blah, blah. The Nice Guy wired into my psyche took over and I worried about everyone’s problems except my own. I couldn’t help it, so don’t be a hater.

Then, one day, I had a moment of clarity – my ex really isn’t the good person at her core that she wants everybody to believe. Her modus operandi is to distance herself from those for whom she no longer cares, Nice Guy included. Once I recognized that I was a victim of her habitual disregard for people who cross her in whatever way, it became clear that her problems are hers alone. She must deal with the consequences of her decisions just like I must. I cannot carry her problems, nor can I solve them for her. I can only worry about my s**t and try to make things bearable. This goes against the grain of a Nice Guy, but the realization that she is on her own is edifying and liberating given her decision of May 2012.

Don’t get me wrong – I remain concerned for my sons’ welfare and happiness. The difference is now, there are three of us in my realm of worry (my two boys and myself). There is enough stress in life. It is easier than one might think to rid oneself of the stress derived from the ungrateful.

There. I am done being bitter.

Happy Birthday to me!!!

Being Nice as a Coping Mechanism

Being a Nice Guy does not come naturally to everyone. Most people really have to make a conscious effort to be nice; it is hard to do sometimes and typically is much easier to be one’s brutal, mean self. The challenge, of course, is to be mean without people thinking you are a real jerk.

One person I know in particular makes enormous efforts to portray herself – yes, this person is a she – as kind and loving and generous. I reflect on the way she treated people with whom she once had meaningful relationships and realize she is an expert at saying one thing and doing another. Yes, gentle reader, this person is two-faced like the character in Batman comics. She is great with her children and certain others in her life, but do not cross her or stand up to her or disagree with her. If you do, she will dismiss you and refuse to give you the time of day. I have witnessed it many times. So how does a Nice Guy cope with such ungracious behavior? Why, Nice Guy kills her with kindness, of course.

You see, we Nice Guys have learned over the course of a lifetime how to deal with those who are, um, d*cks. We ponder the situation, formulate our response – all the while being nice – and then come at them with polite, kind remarks or questions. Those questions may be framed as “I am trying to understand…” or “Can you clarify this for me?”. We aren’t aggressive or hateful but, instead, clear and thoughtful and concerned. As you can imagine, those on the receiving end of this altruism are taken aback and immediately become defensive.

Do not fret. The best offense against such a defense is to smile, give an understanding nod and treat the a**hole with [what appears to be] respect. Only the Nice Guy knows what he is thinking!