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Nov 15

Can you be too nice?

Posted on Monday, November 15, 2010 in Honesty, Kat, Men, Relationships, Women

I’m not an Us or People kind of person, but I’m human — I’ve been known to take a peek from time to time while in a doc’s waiting room. How else would I be able to talk intelligently about whether Demi Lovato is morphing into the new Lindsay Lohan? But on my most recent waiting room experience I found myself for some inexplicable reason watching ESPN on the TV instead, a recap of the some of the previous night’s football highlights — so you know I really was not feeling well — along with the two 60-something men in the waiting room with me.

As I sat somewhat engrossed in the action, one of the men walked up to the TV and lowered the volume.

“Do you mind?” he asked, turning his attention to the other man.

“No, it’s fine.”

And then he sat down.

He didn’t even look at me.

Really, I thought — really? (just like that pretty funny  Windows cell phone ad).

“So, are you going to live, or should I start planning the guest list to your memorial?” Sara asked when she called me later.

“Yeah, but I got totally dissed … and pissed,” I said, recounting how the man who lowered the TV volume didn’t ask me if I minded his volume fiddling.
“What am I, chopped liver?”  

“No, but one, you’re a woman, and women
don’t care about sports, right? And two, you’re too nice, the worst kind of woman.”

“I am not too nice!”

“You are, Kat, face it. Most guys would have
said something to that jerk, just like the women who are in touch with their inner bitch. But, the problem is, we’re raised to be nice, and it never helps us. Nice is like saying you’re ‘good’ when someone asks you how you’re doing. Good isn’t an emotion; it’s meaningless. Same with being nice; it makes us spineless. It isn’t honest.”

Sara was onto something, as usual.

Most of us think being “nice” is among the heavy-hitting virtues. We’ve had that drilled into us from Day 1, thanks to our parents (most likely our moms) who were always hounding us to “be nice” or “play nice.” I’m not against people being nice: I like nice people. But call someone a “nice guy” and we know what we’re talking about — he’s as bland and soft and as interesting as a slice of Wonder Bread (and most likely have a doughy body to boot, despite the old claims that WB builds bodies 12 ways).

Because there’s nice and then there’s nice — you know, the person who never offends or takes offense, who will do anything for anyone to the point that it’s personally detrimental, who is about as PC and selfless as they come.

And, sadly, most girls are raised to be nice. And when we grow up and suddenly show some cojones, well, then we’re called the B-word.

Sometimes, we really shouldn’t be nice. Sometimes, we really do need to be willing to offend someone to stand up for the truth and what’s right. I think sometimes women confuse that with being nasty or cruel or feeling that we’re putting someone down.

Was it worth getting into a “thing” by saying something to the oblivious man in the waiting room? Sure, it bugged me but it wasn’t that big a deal. But I know that there have times in my past when I should have gotten into it and I didn’t; I was too afraid of being offensive.

I was too nice.

What about you?

Photo © Angelika Bentin –