According to No More Mr. Nice Guy, Dr. Robert A. Glover defines a Nice Guy as a man a woman calls her friend but doesn’t find him sexually attractive. Being a Nice Guy gave me one of the worst nights of my life.
I took the train from NJ to Brooklyn to meet up with a girl I was in love with. I bit my lip hard thinking about her. Blood fell on the expensive bottle of wine, which I held to my chest. Quickly wiping it off, I kept reminding myself how bad I wanted the night to go smoothly.
I booked a reservation at Beauty and Essex in the Lower East Side. The New York Times reviewed it as a “Lower East Side phenomenon that seduces beautiful folks and celebrities with its sexy, eclectic New American edibles.” It seemed like the perfect place to impress a date.
Because I arrived at her doorstep early, I stood out in the summer heat for a half hour. I didn’t want to interrupt her getting ready because this place had a strict dress clothes policy. When she opened the door, I was stunned. Instead of following the dress code, she wore a summer dress fine for a picnic. I kept my mouth shut in fear of discouraging or hurting her feelings. But I already felt uncomfortable and embarrassed dressing better than her on our first date.
After the long subway ride from her apartment to the restaurant, we were surprised. The front of it was a pawnshop. There were guitars, jewelry, and even antique women’s vibrators for sale. Feeling somewhat awkward, I asked a giant man who looked like he could be the bouncer if he knew where the restaurant was. With little effort he swung a massive door open. What I saw was beautiful.
A brightly lit chandelier hung from the ceiling and to the right of the check-in desk was a spiraling wooden staircase. Beveled mirrors reflected the glow of rich men and women in their mid-twenties and early thirties. Lots of white and dark wood surrounded the round booths and tables. The skylight in the middle of the grand dining room was breathtaking.
A tall blonde waitress approached us and because she exposed most her creamy, thin legs as possible she seemed ready for a runway, instead of serving us. Her fingernails glistened as she grabbed the neck of my bottle of wine, saying it was her favorite brand.
Before I could say a word, the waitress whispered something in my date’s ear. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but my date decided to go to the ladies’ room. She came back with free pink champagne that she couldn’t stop raving about. Our conversation was one-sided because she commented how handsome other men looked, how she was jealous of the women they were with, and how the loud rap music didn’t fit the decor of the restaurant.
Feeling helpless in the moment, I was backed into a corner where winning her approval or even getting her attention was out of the question. But I didn’t argue with her because I wanted to fit in with the jovial crowd around us.
The bill came and I was bewildered about if we should split the dinner. I wanted to take off, but I hyped this night in my head and didn’t want to disappoint her. To impress her, I pulled out cash, more than I’d spend on ten dinners on myself and told the tall blonde to keep the change. Yet, I felt awful about what I’d done; it would take a month to get that money back.
When we checked out the nightclub at the top of the wooden staircase, I rubbed my eyes to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The cheerleader effect was in motion because women outnumbered men 11 to 1. However, I kept close to my date because this night was about her, not them. She started ordering drinks at the bar like she owned the place. I emptied my pockets with no resistance. I wanted the date to go well and couldn’t say no.
While I ordered more drinks, three Swedish women began to speak with my date. Their conversation was lively and I didn’t want to ask them anything or cause any trouble so I pretended to listen to their words. One of the Swedish girls asked me to go outside with her to keep her company while she smoked a cigarette.
Outside in the cold and back into reality, the Swedish girl mentioned that my date was very cute and that we looked good together. I said the date wasn’t going well so far and not sure if there was something I could to make it work. She replied that I should go make a move. I told her I didn’t want to force anything; I’d rather try when my date was comfortable.
A beautiful woman was giving me advice and I was talking to her comfortably, but all I could think about was how to turn my mismatched date around. This was demoralizing because of how much fun I had with her, more than my own date.
After a couple of guys harassed the Swedish girl from the sidewalk, we went back up upstairs, and my date was escorted out of the restaurant. She had too many drinks and she was my responsibility now.
I told myself I was going to make sure she got home OK, even though I couldn’t stand her anymore. I ended up putting her to bed in her apartment and slept on her couch for an hour. Waking up in a sweat, I found her cat crawling all over my body. I felt like dying. I was dehydrated from all the hard drinks and my allergies from the cat were kicking in.
I wanted to pack up my things and leave quickly, but I didn’t want to be that guy who doesn’t say goodbye. When I walked into her room, I could feel the cat hair on my fingertips. I was getting weaker and weaker.
As a Nice Guy, I wanted to avoid conflict like the plague, so I didn’t mention I was sick from my cat allergies. If I didn’t complain, she might still want to see me again.
I told her I was getting some fresh air, but instead walked to the subway station. I built a lot of resentment for her, however I didn’t want to lose her over one date. She never called me back.
Looking back on that night, I now see the error of my ways. I’m continuing to grow and have figured out how to be a nice guy without being the Nice Guy, something I never want to be again.
Instead of losing friends because I bother to argue my point of view, instead of driving women away because I look after my own needs, and instead of alienating co-workers because I assert my presence, I now assure people of my ability to stand firm in my convictions and to take care of myself. I know these things are obvious to anyone on the outside, but to someone who has believed his whole life in the lies of the Nice Guy, it’s an eye-opener.