I Wish I Were an Asshole
Or Damn my Parents for Raising me Right Anyway
As in, "Colin, youre such a Nice Guy." Is there
another pair of words in the entire English language more frustrating,
more maddening, more stomach curdling than that one. In terms of
left-handed compliments its right up there with such classics
as Competent, Well Meaning and the ever popular Not Bad. Coming
from a contemporary it translates roughly into Boring. From a business
contact or a boss its 'Who Are You Again?'. And from a woman,
'Not If You Were As Rich As Bill Gates'.
Photo Colin Haslett
If you hadnt
guessed by now, I hear that pair of words a lot. Really. It may not
come through here but thats because my writing is where I vent
and rant and ramble about the things that bother me, from the merely
irksome to the downright infuriating. Nice Guy falls somewhere in the
middle of those extremes, its exact position dependant largely upon
who says it and in what context. The other night it was spoken by a
very attractive, very interesting young lady in the form of the question,
"Why cant I find a Nice Guy like you?" Have I mentioned
here that Im single? Or that her boyfriends an asshole?
Can you guess which of those two extremes Nice Guy is hovering virtually
on top of right now?
Unfortunately, out in the real world its not a wholly undeserved
reputation. I am a Nice Guy. Sure, I can curse like a champ when I want
to and I spit my chewing gum onto the sidewalk once in a while and Ive
even been known on very rare occasions to use the office photocopier
for personal items, like my resume, but the truth of the matter is that
I am a Nice Guy. I do all of the things that Nice Guys do. Im
polite, hard working, trustworthy, non-confrontational, dependable.
I dont go behind peoples backs. I dont belittle people.
I dont find humor in the suffering of others. I keep my word,
I finish what I start and I take care of my own. And, on an all too
regular basis, I lose.
As I write this I need tomorrow off work for an acting gig, but my request
has been denied by the people in charge of that sort of thing. Most
everyone I know has told me to call in sick but I cant do that.
I wont really be sick tomorrow, not even sick-of-work sick, so
pride or honor or bull-headed stupidity wont let me call in sick.
No matter how much Id like to, no matter how much simpler it might
be I wont call in sick if Im not sick. (Dont get me
wrong, Im not going into work tomorrow. Acting is my passion and
I want it to be my career, whereas work is just work and I truly hate
it, but thats another rant entirely.) So Ill lose a days
pay and probably one of my vacation days as well, and Ill get
a black mark in my file because I couldnt bring myself to lie
about being sick. Because Im a Nice Guy.
Nice Guys finish last. Its a cliché but its true
(and yes, I am aware that is also a cliché). Its not true
in the sense that Newtons laws of thermodynamics are true; youve
no doubt thought of a number of instances where a Nice Guy came in first
just since reading the first sentence of this paragraph. There have
been many occasions where Ive come out on top of a situation too.
Im not talking about absolutes here, but when I say that Nice
Guys finish last its more than just selective memory and the law
of averages at work: its truth generally, usually, most of the
time Nice Guys finish last. Because assholes cheat.
Or do they? Cheating implies that there are rules to be broken, and
in this day and age it doesnt seem that there are any rules. Morality,
ethics, conventions, manners, hell even a lot of laws havent survived
the turn of the century, and Im referring to the turn of the last
century. So, if there arent any rules any more, or if there never
really were any rules, then the assholes cant really be cheating,
can they? The problem is that Nice Guys are raised to believe that there
are rules and that we have to follow them. I believe absolutely that
there should be rules governing how we treat each other, but Im
a Nice Guy and I follow them anyway, so of course I believe that. And
there be the rub, if you will.
You see, sometimes I want to cheat too. Which doesnt mean that
I want to take up a life of crime. I dont want to open a sweat
shop or become a slum lord or start pimpin hos. I dont even
want to cruise the bars with indiscriminate carnal intent, fathering
an unacknowledged host of illegitimate children and ensuring the survival
of my genes for another generation with little to no work on my part.
Im just sick and tired of finishing last, of being the also-ran,
of just plain losing on such an incredibly regular basis. I want to
ignore those rules that dont really exist anyway so that I can
come out on top as the rule, not as the exception.
The tricky bits, unfortunately, would be sleeping at night and looking
at myself in the mirror. Because part of the problem with being a Nice
Guy, as I alluded to before, is that I believe its the right way
to be. Most of the qualities which I associate with being a Man are
the qualities which identify me instead as a Nice Guy to the rest of
the world. Nietzsches Ubermensch, Machiavellis Prince, the
Alpha Male, even the Real Men who Dont Eat Quiche, these are not
Nice Guys and by their respective definitions they wouldnt likely
consider a Nice Guy to be a Man. For me, however, as much as I revile
the first of those two labels they are inextricably associated with
one another. As long as I want to keep calling myself a Man Ill
have to endure others calling me a Nice Guy and resign myself to not
coming in first as much as Id like. It is the nature of my Beast
(and thats about enough of the capitalization, I think). I cant
even be smug and self righteous and holier-than-everybody-else because,
well, that just wouldn't be very nice. But I will not like it, and I
will continue to deny it in person, and I will always complain about
it. Rest assured of that last one.
© 'Mr Nice Guy' Colin Haslett - August 2002
Angry Young Man or Bitter Old Fart in Training?
Ive been the kind of person who walks around wanting to punch
those shiny, happy people right in the pie hole and then ask them what
theyre so bloody cheery about.'
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