If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

Monday, December 10: My being-nice-before-Christmas project is teaching me a lot of things. Today’s lesson: I wake up with two women every morning. They don’t get along, and compete for my attention every day. It’s tiring to be wanted so much all the time.

Scrooge-Nancy is unfiltered in her comments and outrageous in her actions. She’s fun, but I don’t get invited to play any reindeer games when I let her bad influence sway me. I really do want to listen to Nice-Nancy, but she spends too much time wringing her hands and wondering what the nice thing to do is. I’m stuck a lot of times with my hand clamped over Scrooge-Nancy’s mouth, desperate for Nice-Nancy’s counsel, but that nice bitch takes too damn long – and Scrooge-Nancy has really sharp teeth.

The struggle continued today. I’ve ignored (or tried to) Scrooge-Nancy for the past week, and she is MAD. Nice-Nancy spent all of yesterday locked in a closet by Scrooge, knocking politely and asking to please be let out. I went on an all-day, be-nasty bender with Scrooge-Nancy, woke up today with a foul-mood hangover, and swore not to let it happen again.

It wasn’t easy.

There were so many provocative moments, opportunities to let sarcasm, impatience, and selfishness rule. For example, my visit today to the local pool. I swim there twice a week, so I know the rules: share the lanes, wear appropriate swim attire, limit showers to three minutes, blah blah blah. I realized in the locker room that I forgot the long-sleeved surfer rasher I wear to stay warm, and my armpits were as hairy as my head. The lifeguard blew his whistle as I stepped into the pool wearing a tee shirt. I was trying to retain some body heat and dignity, but according to slacker-boy I was breaking the rules. He pushed my annoyance button, but I wasn’t the only one who got riled.

“Tell that kid to shut up. And HE should wear a shirt if he’s not going to wax his shoulders,” said Scrooge-Nancy.

“Well, technically, you are in violation of the rules. A one-hundred percent cotton tee shirt isn’t appropriate swim attire,” reminded Nice-Nancy.

They went at it, and I couldn’t make sense of what either said as they spoke over each other. Slacker-boy stood with his arms crossed, while a fat man swam in the lane nearest us – wearing a tee shirt. I wanted to point that out to the lifeguard, tell him to stop wasting my time, and threaten to expose my armpit afros, but none of that would be nice. Or would it? The rules applied to everyone, and he wasn’t enforcing them properly. In fact, he was guilty of profiling. He must have had something against middle-aged Puerto Rican women with biceps superior to his. I thought of using my might to push him aside, and dive into the pool, shallow end be damned. And I wished Scrooge or Nice would tell me what to say, but those two just argued. I was on my own. Here’s what I said.

Nothing.

That’s right. I took off and folded my tee wordlessly. Slacker-boy was silent too, but I don’t know if it was due to the bulge of my biceps or the hair under my arms. I decided if I couldn’t say something nice, the kindest thing to do was to say nothing at all.

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