“You’re just too nice,” her Brooklyn infused, Jamaican bred, private school cultured, cold smorgasbord accent informed me, as she explained why she had been distant the weeks leading up to our freshman year. I stopped listening after her opening. Too nice? Word?
I spent my first few years living with my grandparents in a Caribbean culture which centered on community. Additionally, my uncle was a local pastor and my family was very much a part of the church. Yep, every night there was some event for some population of the church community; bible study, youth ministries, Sunday school, evening services, etc. Consequently, my grandparents helped many other families in our area. My earliest memories consist of witnessing, first hand, the generosity and love of my family for others.
“With that in my blood, I was born to be different”–Kanye West
“Mom,” my six year old self badgered her, “you have to go out and get her a ‘My Little Pony’ doll. Pleeeaaassseee.” My mother hadn’t even taken her coat off from a long day at work, but I noticed that her hands were empty. They were not holding a plastic bag with a ‘My Little Pony’ doll in it, and I needed to have one for [insert her name here–and yes I remember it]. She was my first crush in first grade. You could not tell me that we weren’t getting married. Oh, no worries. I had already informed my mother of my plan. “Relax, child,” my mother pushed me away from her, while she placed her work bag down and removed her jacket. Before I can begin round two of annoying whining, she points to her bag, while opening the coat closet door. I eagerly pull the zipper of her black bag backwards, towards me. Resting on the top of whatever contents are in a working woman’s purse back in the late 80’s was a black plastic bag with a doll in it. “Thanks, mom,” I jubilantly say as I race to hug her for the gift.
The following day, during breakfast, I tapped her on the shoulder. “Happy birthday. I got you something.” Surprised, she stumbles back as I hurriedly push the doll into her hands. “You’re too nice,” she says as she wryly smiles. The memory ends there with those words echoing as if in an empty silo. We never got married. In fact, that day she did not even speak to me much. There was so much attention from others surrounding the fact that I got her something. The overwhelming sentiment of that memory was confusion. Wasn’t I supposed to treat the girl I liked special?
“I was nice to girls, but that wasn’t the [inset my name here] they felt
They said the Coupe was alright, but they didn’t like the seat belts
I looked tight…they told me “Loosen up”, run a couple of lights
Spank’em, pull their hair…just don’t treat’em so nice
Left me confused, I messed wit chicks that was best when abused
Nice guys finish last wit they special set of rules
And me? I over did it…” -Jay Z
The popular narrative is that “good guys finish last,” and that “women love bad boys.” Jay Z captures that in his verse. If that is the case, then why would any guy choose to be nice. Confusing…for nice guys like my former self…and apparently Jay Z.
This dominant saying coupled with the fact that I grew up around women who dealt with all kind of relationship problems, I decided at an early age to be different. Different from the men who left the women I loved and cared for empty, broken, and alone. Had no clue what that meant, but knew that it was necessary…somehow. I was going to treat women with respect and dignity. I would open doors and actively demonstrate that chivalry was not dead. I would randomly buy flowers, and tell them constantly that I loved them and how special they were to me.
And I did that.
A couple of times for a couple of special women.
I also stopped doing it being nice. Well, that’s not entirely true. I reformed my approach. I am not a “sucker” (read: naive and gullible) for love, though I am still a hopeless romantic. I’ve been hurt in love, but luckily I also experienced true love and know that there is no better feeling.
I am a reformed nice guy. No, I am not jaded. I just learned that not everyone is ready to experience or wants to experience a nice guy. Some women really do just want “bad guys” and “players.” So, now I do not present myself as Mr. Nice Guy (though if you hang with me long enough you’ll see that I genuinely care for others). I know my worth and not everyone is worthy to experience all the niceties and lavishly romantic ideas and feelings I have to share. I can’t front though; I still do some “nice guy ish” occasionally. I cannot stop being me because I am who I am. But those moments are peppered sparingly in my single life.
I can share other stories where I was deemed “too nice.” To be fair, I can also share stories where I was deemed “the bad guy.”
Overall, even after writing this post, I am still left with an overwhelmingly feeling of confusion. *Shrug*