Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Nice, Not Nice

A friend gifted me a box of books and it was a treasure trove of illustrated covers. I could have just enjoyed the cover art but curiosity got the better of me and I had to start reading them.  The first book I chose was, The Indiscreet Confessions of a Nice Girl, written by Anonymous. There is little to no information available about the book, other than it was originally published in 1935 by William Godwin Inc. No information on who 'Anonymous' really was.
Considering the book was originally published in 1935 it makes this book even more head scratching.  When I began reading the first thought that came to me was, this nice girl is anything but. She begins by describing how she was not only the girlfriend of a married man but she was the type of girl who would pick up random guys at parties and not remember their names the next day. As it goes on she introduces us to her friend. This friend assures her that in order to know if a man is worth marrying he should already be married. In other words, she should only try to marry a man who is currently married. Considering she's spending mornings and random lunch breaks with a married man she should have no trouble finding a married man.
Reading further into the book it occurred to me that the word nice is clearly undefined, or it's quite possible that I have no idea what the word nice means. This girl obviously considers herself one of the nice ones. What is nice?  Has the definition of nice changed since the 1930s?  Perhaps there are too many opinions about what the word means. Perhaps the word has been misconstrued in the last few decades.
Reading this book and questioning what the word nice actually means it reminded me of this guy I dated back in college. When my friends asked me why I quit seeing him my answer was, he was too nice. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?  It meant that there was something off about him, being too nice felt like he had something to hide. Perhaps it's just my superpower to see through people's BS, but I could tell there was much more to his niceness. Much like Hansel and Grethel coming across a nice woman with a house made out of candy, there has to be something lurking behind that niceness. Those two discovered she was a witch and I eventually discovered this guy was only two weeks away from having a baby with a girl he went to high school with. In this case you might say too nice is sort of like too good to be true.
It's sad because it makes me sound completely jaded but I'm not. I truly have super powers. In all honesty intuition can take you pretty far in most cases. It still doesn't help me get to the bottom of this word nice. The protagonist clearly thinks of herself as a nice girl. She never sees any fault in her behaviour. If anything ever goes wrong it's on the other person. When one of the many men she dated turned out to be dating five other girls it turned out that he was the snake, in her eyes.  Never mind that she was still having an affair with a married man and plotting and scheming how she could get married to someone else she hasn't met yet. After reading the book I have yet to find one nice thing about this nice girl. Perhaps I'm confusing the word nice with kind. Maybe this girl is nice but far from kind.
The dictionary's definition of nice is as follows; pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory.  The definition of kind is; having or showing a friendly, generous and considerate nature.
There it is, she could quite possibly be a nice girl, but not kind. So this is more of an issue with the use of the English language and how it is evolving. How is it I've been alive this long and incorrectly using the word nice? That's an easy question to answer, it's because it's what I've been taught and I never questioned the definition until I picked up this book. What other words am I misusing? What words are you LITERALLY misusing?

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