When you look in one of my old high school yearbooks, you quickly detect two big trends in the comments others wrote about me: 1) You’re weird/crazy/strange; and 2) You’re a good friend/nice guy. Oh sure, there were others, but those two definitely leap out at you. Being a person of some constancy, I have to say that both labels still apply. I’m not quite as bizarre as I was when I was younger, but like a stand-up comedian learning their trade, the early years are ones of outlandish experiments to find what fits. As for the second…
When I was in the time those comments were written, I had mixed feelings about being called “a nice guy”. I mean, having that label meant that I was, well, a nice guy…not that there’s anything wrong with that. That’s what I had been raised to be and was something that fit. On the other hand, at that time of your life you might as well pin a scarlet “NG” on your chest for all the romance you are likely to get; and said lack of romance tends to lead to other suppositions…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Despite that one glaring disadvantage, I do have to say that over all I’ve been OK with being the nice guy. I work hard (most of the time), I’m courteous (most of the time), I try very hard to be fair and level-headed, I try to be pleasant company, and in general try to be “nice”.
HOWEVER, I’m definitely not a paragon. I get just as frustrated as anyone, and I’ve been know to let fly with a colorful invective from time-to-time. After all, as Mark Twain so brilliantly remarked: “Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”
Oh, let’s face it, I can be downright vulgar at times–I was a computer programmer for many years, after all. But (and here’s where the niceness comes back into play) it’s usually when there is no one else around to hear that this unedited side of me emerges. Not that I’m ashamed of the words, but others have a problem with them so in the interests of civility I censor myself to a large degree.
Also, being human, some things definitely piss me off. While I’m not going to going into this too deeply, the fact remains that it is in these situations that I often hold my tongue. I learned early on that one of the most important things to do when your passions and emotions are aroused is to think about what you are about to say, and, much more often than not, not to say it. Oh yeah, I have lapses. I’m still a little sheepish for one exchange I had one afternoon with Mary, Tess, and Scarlet. It wasn’t that it was mean or terrible or anything, it was more that I’d allowed myself to lose control.
OK…I hear those wheels a-turning. No, not a control freak. I merely speak of losing control of oneself. In everything we say and do, we have the choice to say or do them. Part of how I was raised came with the caveat that we were responsible for what we do and say. I think the “nice” moniker comes with having found the balance between being open and shutting yourself off.
After having served many decades of general nice-itude, what have I learned? First, and this is very important, you can’t help but be true to who you are. I *am* a nice guy (mostly). I bristled with being called that for a while, but fact be known, that’s basically what I am. Second, that phrase, “Nice guys finish last”…not a good generality. The true jerks of the world often end up finishing last. That said, nice guys don’t often finish first, either, and that’s OK. Fact of the matter is that not that many people actually get to finish first–it’s a numbers thing. Third, just because you are “nice” doesn’t mean you aren’t a heterosexual…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Fourth, there is no number fourth. Fifth, you tend to smile more. Sixth, you get in way fewer barroom brawls. And seventh (there are way more, but I’m stopping at seven), when you find mutual love, it’s really great.
Oh, and one last thing…to all of you who did sign any of my various yearbooks, thank you very much for the very kind words. You’re nice people, too…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
 Many thanks to Jerry Seinfeld for that lovely bit of comedy. It works beautifully with just about everything…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
 Profanity is on the spike for a future entry.
 As always, names of non-public people have been changed.
 I don’t think. They still seem to like me, so how bad could it have been?
 This also includes not doing, as that’s also a doing.
 This is mostly for the younger readers who have to deal with a lot of unwarranted (and also warranted–let’s be real) labeling.
 Yeah, I know I drove that right into the ground, but the comedy of the phrase springs not from the phrase itself, but the repetition.