Sugar and Spice

Everyone always says “You are so…nice”. And yes, there’s usually that brief silence of the ellipses.

Why has “nice” chased me around all my life?What does that mean? I’m a pushover? I smile a lot? I can chat it up decently with strangers? I don’t like confrontation? I try to bring out the best in people? I’m a big blob of boredom?

Are there no other words, for cryin‘ out loud (what a “nice“ phrase), that could come to mind?

This has always slightly bothered me. I mean, I don’t want to be known simply as “nice”. I want to be great, leave a mark, be bold, ruffle a few feathers while still be able to expertly soothe them. Can nice people do that? Nice isn’t the way I feel when I am alone with myself, stripped to my soul, reeling from life’s questions, and feeling the blood pumping through the veins in my hands. It’s so much more than that.

In my heart of hearts, I know some of the reasons for my prevailing nice-dom.  Amidst the divorce of my parents at four years old, I learned that being nice could smooth over arguments and it helped me to feel I gained the equal favor of my parents.  Of course there’s no such thing, as my parents’ love, without a doubt, equally defies gravity.  As a kid, though, the path of least resistance seemed to garner the quickest and least painful results.  I guess nice is a pretty good cover for my insecurities as well.  It keeps them cinched in like a belt.  So, nice stuck to me like a big, fat, juicy tick burrowed in my skin.  Suckin’ my blood a teensy bit at a time.  And, damn, it’s just as tough to get rid of.

Nice seems to be a good filler word. Truly, I wouldn’t describe the best experiences in my life as nice. Labor and childbirth weren’t nice. They were phenomenal and delicious, full of love and lessons that could cut like razors. Eating dinner with my brand-new husband as we overlooked the Spanish steps in Italy wasn’t just nice. It was romantic, and tingly, and as enveloping as a summer night. My friends are definitely not nice. They are honest, sarcastic, vulnerable, damn-smart, soul-searching, challenging, unconventional, scared, scarred, unruly, fat, skinny, timid, loud-mouthed, jealous, and brimming with life and random musings. Frankly, that’s how I like ‘em.

Nice sits in the back of the room, shy and afraid to take risks. Nice is easy. Nice makes excuses for her values and beliefs. Nice doesn’t refuse to bend to convention just to keep little truths from leaking out. Nice doesn’t make waves. Nice certainly doesn’t cavort naked in the hot springs. So, it‘s time for a revolt, a revolution. I’m gonna start with ripples…

I’ve told myself “Get over it! Nice means whateva you want it to mean.“ And I decided it would be an acronym for this; “She’s NICE. Nothing I Can Explain.” That sits just a little bit better with me


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Ninotchka says:

    Labor and childbirth weren’t nice. They were phenomenal and delicious, full of love and lessons that could cut like razors.

    Brilliantly put. Very interesting post, this. I always feel as though I’m trying to convince people how NOT nice (it does sound so benign, doesn’t it? something I am definitely NOT), I am. Not that there’s anything wrong with being generally happy and a pleasant person all around but I feel much more complex than that simple label. You know?

  2. Brooke says:

    Join the club of nice. I used to hate it when people called me nice. I used to hate it that people always talked about my smile and said that I was as effervescent as champagne. I longed to be mysterious and dark and passionate and wise and creative. And I wanted to stand out for being special; not for being nice.

    Nice felt so bland, full of such mediocrity. But I’ve grown to appreciate it for what it is. Sure, it’s a cover up. You are right about that. Good behaviors hide a multitude of sins. (But that will be our little secret, won’t it?)

    But a nice person is also considerate and shows empathy and invites others to let down their guards and makes people feel at home with a gentle smile. Nice people leave good first impressions and make others want to be nicer themselves.

    It is a short cut word, like cute. Or white. Or black. Or smart. It is over-used and means little. Or it means alot of things. But generally, it means you are worth liking. That you make others feel good about you and about themselves.

    We can be all of the wonderfully nice things, and STILL be raw in our center. Still seek deep experiences, still have dark and brooding thoughts. The gift is that we can have the full spectrum of these experiences. And it makes life alot more pleasant.

    And nice is a birthright. It is a gift. It is a sparkle, a light that can’t be dimmed, a spirit of joy that cannot be tamed. Be grateful that you bring such happiness to the people in your life! We love you for it.

  3. Megan says:

    NICE? Are you freakin’ kidding me? You chased me around the house all the time (even once as an adult), sometimes with weapons!!! (I specifically remember a knife and a stun gun!) And you tortured the stuffed animal we named Jordan Knight, not only by putting in the freezer with a knife in its belly until its ear-squeaker froze (and with a little note that read “I’m dead”, but also by microwaving him!!

    And let’s not forget the years of torturing little Katie. Merciless teasing, Potato-head, Furball-Headball, to name just a few things!!


  4. leighsteele says:

    Dang, Megan sure called me out! LOL. She’s right…I guess I do have quite a wicked streak!

  5. Megan says:

    That stuff is fresh in my mind, never mind that most of it was 15 years ago! (Yikes that’s half of my life!) I’m scarred for life


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