Playing nice (kind of)

Generally speaking, I try to be a nice person. Generally speaking, I fail spectacularly (at least in my head).

Now, because I had good parents who knew a thing or two about well, parenting, I was taught that if I didn’t have anything nice to say I shouldn’t say anything at all.

This one, tiny nugget of parental wisdom, if doled out at an early age, is invaluable. It prevents you from getting into schoolyard fisticuffs because you called Mark Simpson a doodoo head. It prevents you from getting  sent to the principal’s office for making fun of Mrs. Branson’s unfortunate facial hair. And arguably, most importantly, it keeps you from being that kid no one wants to invite to their birthday party at the bowling alley.

This verbal filter which you adhere to because “Mom said so,” allows you to become a functional little member of society. And if you stick to the rule well enough, people will think you’re nice, you’ll have friends and you’ll never be the last person picked in P.E. even though your automatic response to forced recreational softball is to always run away from the ball.

If you’re a kid like me, who let’s face it, was a pathetic, goody-two-shoes, you followed this rule religiously. You let those mean thoughts that popped into your head just stay right in there between your pigtails. Even if  Susie Hawthorne was just begging to be called a “sissypants” and even if Matt Jones was practically screaming to be called a “stupid jerkface,” those juvenile though incredibly fitting insults would never dare pass your lips.

To let these thoughts out would surely be disaster. The idea of actually speaking these words aloud when you wanted to speak them seemed well, unspeakable. To avoid the near-certain chaos that would ensue if you called Sam Darling  a “big fat, meanie” you continued to behave yourself. For years and years and years.

You thought surely this skill would not be needed as an adult. Surely, people weren’t dying to be called dumb-dumbs, stupid jerkfaces and big fat meanies in the real world. These were adults for God’s sake. Obviously they would realize the effects their behavior had on others and these childish insults would not be needed to whip them into shape.

You were wrong. You were so, so, painfully, indescribably wrong. This was by-and-large the worst assumption you’d made in your entire life. Age it seems, doesn’t make jerkfaces stop being jerkfaces or dumb-dumbs stop being dumb. If anything, it seems to make it worse. Like a fine wine aged to perfection, it seems annoying is a trait that is only enhanced with age.

So in short, there is no escape. Annoying people are everywhere so from now til time immortal I will forever be reminding myself that if I don’t have anything nice to say I shouldn’t say anything at all.

Though to keep my head from exploding because it’s overpopulated with unused insults, I had to find a loophole: the art of the sigh. A well-timed,well-orchestrated sigh can do wonders to relieve pressure and stop you from spurting off grade school insults. This is just a suggestion, the fact that I sigh more than any other man, woman or child on this earth is completely unrelated….