As the founder of this thing, I’ve written something like 70 WRITE CLUB pieces. I’ve performed the show in five North American cities. I’ve written to a wide range of topics.
And I can tell you this:
Nice is the worst fucking assignment I’ve ever given myself.
Not only am I temperamentally unsuited to the task of advocating for Nice, but from the standpoint of writerly craft, Nice is one of those gutless, toothless, limbless words that drive me right around the bend.
You know the ones. The words.
All those fucking words that are so thumb-worn and degraded from centuries of having drizzled off the tongues of the insincere that they have ceased to contain any vestige of their meaning. Words so compromised and pissed-upon that they may as well be made-up non-words like “edutainment” or “nutraceuticals.”
In every office and coffee shop, at every bus stop and at the end of every bar, they sit, these words, by the bucketful. Used by the desperate in the wrong-headed belief that any utterance, no matter how hollow or false, is preferable to the silence that surrounds us always. People who would sooner say SOMETHING, because the prospect of a stretch of nothing said, a howling pause in the something-ness, well it’s more than most can bear.
[SILENCE FOR A BEAT.]
There, now. Wasn’t that nice?
It is no secret that many people labor under the misconception that I am not a nice person. I am quick to hatred, and live suspended in a molten pool of judgment and harshness.
But it is not for want of ABILITY that I am not a Nice person. It is because I believe that being NICE is not worth aspiring to. NICE people are well suited to standing in line till they die; NICE people make outstanding hostages. If you want a trainee for middle management or a lamb for the slaughter, call a Nice person. Nice people are good cannon fodder or medical test subjects.
In short, Nice people are mostly stupid and afraid. I also am mostly stupid and afraid, but I am nonetheless lacking in Niceness.
But setting aside the hollow and senseless aspects of Nice, the pleasing and vacuous and agreeable aspects of it, what do we find? What was the original intent of the word?
Well. Murky as fuck, as it turns out.
[PRODUCE Oxford English Dictionary]
Following are several archaic definitions of Nice, which will demonstrate that despite the vastness of my hostility, the nanoscopic scale of my patience, and the combustibility of my good will, I am, in point fact and despite the evidence of your senses, Nice.
“Shy, reluctant, unwilling”
“Wanton, loose-mannered, lascivious”
“Requiring or involving great precision, accuracy, or minuteness”
“Critical, doubtful, full of danger or uncertainty”
And finally “Fastidious in matters of literary taste”
Now then. On the surface, the misguided among you could argue that I am a bit of dick. But if one RETURNS to true nature of the word, it is plain to anyone that I am as Nice as I can be.
Where reluctance and being critical are concerned, where one has need of doubt and lasciviousness, one would be hard pressed to find anybody more fully empodying these attributes than I. I am a PARAGON of unwillingness, a TOWER of uncertainty. In fact, when you apply the right metrics of assessment, I rapidly emerge as THE NICEST PERSON YOU HAVE EVER MET.
It is precisely BECAUSE of my misanthropy and formless dread that I am so Nice. It is LESSER people, people lacking the courage to be judgmental and unforgiving that actually LACK in Niceness.
It is the people who seek always to be agreeable and civil, actually, that are the dicks, here.
Not this guy.
I am distasteful and truculent enough to recognize that it is those traditionally regarded as The Nice who ACTUALLY demonstrate the worst kind of cowardice and hypocrisy with their solicitude and tact and enthusiasm. It is the TYRANNY of jocularity and accommodation, in short, that have conspired to ensure that Nice Guys like myself finish last.
You have it in your power, however, to RECLAIM Niceness from the legions of the attentive, the armies of the cordial, the fascism of the friendly.
You have it in your grasp, here, this night, to seize for good and always the sense of what it means to be Nice. Do NOT LET this singular opportunity slide, ladies and gents. Do NOT permit these CHARLATANS to continue selling us the snake oil of their respectfulness. DEPROGRAM YOURSELF from this Cult of the Kind.
NOW is your time to stand and be counted.
[FLIP THEM OFF.]
Who among you is Nice enough to return my salute?