Never Date A Nice Boy
You should never date someone because they’re nice. As far as qualities go, it doesn’t hold much weight, requires no discernible skill.
You know this now but you didn’t know it then. You didn’t know it on that night of the dinner party. You and your friends used to have those often because you were twenty-one and drinking too much. Making lentil salad, wearing dresses and blazers, and pouring glasses of warm white wine were all clever devices you used to make yourselves feel normal and productive.
At the dinner party, you’re talking about mature adult things with your friends when the nice boy comes in.
“Wicked spread.” He says in a stoner drawl, surveying the courtyard, the booze and the elaborate display of cheese and crackers. His East Coast slang immediately makes you want to run around barefoot in the California sun, eat avocado sandwiches and rub New Age crystals. But you can’t because you’re in a courtyard in the East Village with a boy that says “wicked” and endured hard winters and always knew New York as being a place that was just a train ride away.
As the night progresses, you drink more wine and start to care less about his slang and more about his sweet ass. It’s placed perfectly up high, toned by years of cycling. An ass is the first thing you notice on a boy. It’s the first thing you fall in love with and usually the last.
You suggest moving the party to the rooftop of your apartment. Everyone agrees because they’re drunk and They. Just. Don’t. Care. When you get to your apartment, you grab the Polaroid camera so this night can stick more than the others. While walking up to the roof, you almost fall but you catch yourself. No, the nice boy with the nice ass catches you. Ah, you love men.
You smoke pot, tastes so good. Everyone bathes in the evening warmth and oh my god, you’re just so happy. This boy makes you so happy. You take a Polaroid of him even though you just met. But you’re going to scan it and put it online and tag him in the photo. Everyone will see it and think to themselves, “I didn’t know he was friends with that boy!” But you are because the internet says so and everyone knows that it’s only a matter of time before internet starts imitating life.
This is when things get blurry, stop making so much sense. Everyone leaves except for the boy and you decide to play the movie Factory Girl. It plays for awhile and you try to discuss how Andy Warhol took advantage of Edie Sedgwick and how she really didn’t stand a chance after meeting him (LOL). At least that’s what you think you’re discussing. You’re not sure. Neither is the boy. But he smiles anyway, encouraging your nuggets of wisdom.
He says he has to go and you panic. You say goodbye but you really just want to be sober with him on your bed, talking about music or something else that could lead to a kiss. But that’s not the case tonight so he leaves. The door slams and you want to cry at the wasted opportunity. The wine tells you to chase after him like they do in the movies so you do.
You run down the hallway, turn the corner and see him get into the elevator. You grab him before he has a chance to get away. Kissing kissing kissing. Against the wall, grab his body. Feels amazing. He tastes normal, not like the wine you’ve been drinking. His skin is rough like a boy that’s been out in the sun pulling weeds. Or maybe that’s how you chose to remember it. It doesn’t matter now. He says no to sex, goes home. You really like him, you think, you know.
What happens after that is a series of choreographed moments, a nice relationship with a nice boy. On your first date, you get stoned and go to a midnight showing of The Shining. Afterwards, you make out high with your shirts off and you think this could be for real.
But it doesn’t become real-not even close. “He’s so great, he’s so nice” quickly turns into “He’s so passive, he has pudding for a backbone.” Three months later, you’re ignoring his calls and he’s texting you on Ecstasy to tell you that you’re beautiful. He calls you this after enduring three months of your bad behavior, three months of never going to his apartment, three months of your manipulation and it makes you feel ashamed. You never knew you could act this ugly and it makes you sick.
You wonder how this meanness could have lived inside of you undetected for all of these years. Gee, a heads up would’ve been nice. “Just so you know, I have the capacity to act completely evil. It’s in your best interest to start running from me screaming.” In prior relationships, you had been the nice boy. You had been the one texting sweet nothings on Ecstasy and laying there like an open wound. How could roles reverse so quickly? Which one feels better? Does it feel good to be shit on or do you prefer shitting on someone?
Eventually the relationship with the nice boy evaporates and you are overcome with a sense of relief. After awhile, you start to think about what dating the nice boy with the nice ass taught you. You think real hard and discover that he inadvertently taught you how to be cruel. And what about you? You showed him that everyone has the ability to act contrary to who they really are and that by being the nice one, you’re surrendering yourself to the asshole. You wish you knew all of this then but you didn’t so here you are.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”