Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What'd You Just Call Me?

A nice guy is quickly growing to the top of things I don't want to be called. I feel like that places some kind of unnecessary burden onto my shoulders that implies that I'm going to do things that a 'typical' guy wouldn't. For instance, how can I break up with a girl and still be a nice guy? I can try all I want to explain it to her, to consider her feelings, to make it seem like its gonna be okay, but if she still likes me, she'll find a reason to hate me and no matter what I do, she'll explain that reason to herself and spread it reason as why I'm not a nice guy. Then my whole attempt at being nice will have been futile.

There are other things that are assumed about nice guys that I just don't like. One is the assumption of being a pushover. I learned long ago (back when I found out I couldn't fight) that its much safer to just look like you can fight, or even better to have a mean mug on your face that makes people think "I could probably take him, but it wouldn't be an easy fight". In that way, I've managed to survive some dire situations in schools. But are nice guys allowed to look mean? Or is a nice guy also supposed to be the guy who comes home crying to his girl cause he got his ass kicked and then she can play some mommy role and tell him "baby it'll be alright".

That being said though, I'm tired of people thinking that because I'm some kind of "nice guy", that its beyond my character to talk bad about somebody, or even criticize them. I mean, where I'm from we call it jon'in (its so hard to write down words I've only heard spoken) and we used to be able to go at it for hours at a time. Now, I'm in an academic setting and I understand that with this (as with most work environments), there's a lot more of an attempt to be politically correct and not hurt feelings. That I understand. But if you make a statement that deserves criticism, don't think I won't call you stupid just because you call me a nice guy. Not only that, but sometimes trash talk is just the proper etiquette. I mean, how much fun is a game of spades without some trash talk? How can I watch football with a Ravens fan or a Cowboys fan and not make jokes about them?

And thats another thing - the whole need to 'discuss' things. I love a good conversation. Thats how I met most of my friends and how I meet new people. I believe there's an unappreciated art to a conversation that I try to enjoy. But that being said, some people do not enter a conversation to converse (how different of a world would we live in if conversate was a word?). Some people want to lecture, criticize, or spout an agenda. Having a conversation with some people is like trying to convince Rush Limbaugh to vote for Obama. Now the 'nice guy' in me says to show them the flaws in their logic and they'll eventually come around. But the 'typical guy' in me says to tell them to STFU. That may not win me many brownie points but I think it gets my point across that I don't want to hear that and I don't want them ruining an otherwise beautiful conversation.

And the other thing about being a nice guy is that you're only the nice guy until there's an argument. From that point on, just like the girl you broke up with, you'll be that guy who has the wrong opinion on religion, or abortion, or gay rights, or whatever else you choose to disagree on.

I think the term 'nice guy' is really just a new way of saying "I like you, but I don't 'like you' like you". Its that whole "we can be friends, but not boyfriend/girlfriend" talk all over again, but with more implied meaning and less actual statements. Everybody has their flaws and their ways of doing things that aren't so 'nice', but when we generalize and say a person is nice, its like we're asking them to put on a mask and not show that 'bad' side of them. Or maybe, a guy is called 'nice' because he actually tries to hide his 'bad' side.

Either way, it doesn't work for me. So I no longer look forward to being called a 'nice guy'.

(Now I know I'm gonna have friends jumping to the other extreme and thinking that I'm all of a sudden trying to be an artificial bad I'm Fabulous/Puffy/Ja Rule/etc. or something. I hope you find that as funny as I do)


Anonymous said...

man....this should be an OP'ed in the washington post.

Lisa M Gill said...

For a very long time, I have believed the idea that men and women are socialized differently. Hell, if Judith Butler did not convince me, then there is really no hope that anyone else will. Your blog certainly drove the point home; the point being: men don't get it. It being what women mean when they say certain things. First let me say, one of my BFFs is a guy. I know it sounds cliche, but actually in male-female relations, it's exactly like having a really good friend of another race. My homeboy hips me to all the shit that I would miss because as he says, "I pee sitting down." In our friendship, we have come to term the difference as translations into "Manese" or "Womanish" that sometimes occur on the daily. I say all of this to let you know, I get what you are trying to say, but I very highly doubt you get what women are trying to say. To be called a nice guy is above all one of the best compliments that you could be paid, the highest of course being a good man. Not because it means that you are or aren't boyfriend material(which by the way is completely subjective and at the very least you would hope that the woman you are interested in likes nice guys), because it means in a world were you are in a position of power and domination, you have chosen not to excercise that power. You have been considerate where others may have been cruel. You have been noble where others have been simple, selfish, and self-seeking. Whether you have done this on occassion or consistently is one of the things that separates the nice guy from a good man. It would be naive of me to act as though there aren't immature girls, chicks or women who can't seem to be honest with a man and tell them that they aren't interested in them romatically, but if you are dealing with a woman of substance and some form of spirituality she will not hesitate to tell you whats what. And if she has taken to calling you a nice guy, you should do your best to step out of your locality and envision hers just long enough for you to see the reflection of you that she has obviously noticed.
Because you are a nice guy does not dictate how you will or will not act in relation to other men. In fact, how you act is what determines whether or not you are a nice guy or a good man. And the title is not given away so casually to then be taken away so frivolously as when you speak your mind or heart. My homeboy is a good man, that does not mean that he doesn't have faults or that I don't want to kill him everytime I am on the phone with him (or in his presence) and I hear a "nice job sweetie" or he does that 45sec stare in reference to some chick that has on something that accentuates her figure. He's a guy, I get it. Sometimes nice guys are crude, and that's ok. In light of all the things that you could be called, trust me, nice guy ain't half bad.

Thought said...

You bring light to some interesting angles of the conversation. But the problem with a subjective term is that its impossible to have a concrete understanding of what is meant by it. I don't doubt that some (many?) feel in a similar way as you, but thats just not the connotation my experience dictates. I admit that my references to the term 'nice guy' have an overly negative connotation, but thats just based on my experiences. If I begin to get some of the treatment you speak of, then maybe my feelings will change.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.