So I’m looking across the counter at her, and it’s my turn to talk, but I’m clearly not talking. I’ve just given her $22 for a $12 purchase and I have apparently just rocked her world of simply changing twenties. The look in her eyes is like a ob-gyn who just delivered a hermaphrodite and who is looking at the father who wants to know how his baby is. And then it dawns on me. I am not a nice person.
In my head is a motherboard overload of responses, none of which would get a star next to my name in Sunday school. I’m tempted to let loose on this woman like John McEnroe on a referee. So I’m going to experiment in a way that no self-respecting Gen X, Boomer-hating, unsentimental, non-cheesy, sitting-in-the-corner-and-castigating cynic ever would. I’m going to be nice. I’m going to be Hallmark nice. I’m going to be Miracle on 34th St. nice. Not just once a day. In every five minute conversation I’m going to go out of my way to compliment the person I’m talking to. I’m going cold turkey. Or nice turkey.
What will be entertaining is not just the reaction to the unusual. It will be the reaction to me doing it, which would be like the Statler and Waldorf shouting compliments at Fozzie Bear.
I tried it with my wife today. She was talking about…I’m not sure, I wasn’t listening, because I was concentrating so hard on something nice to say. I remembered that I never notice when she gets her hair cut, and I looked hard at her hair, and it looked shorter than the last time I took a good hard look at it. So when she was done with whatever it was, I said, “Hey, I like your new haircut.” And she said, “I haven’t gotten it cut in six months. Nice new shirt, Slick.” My shirt has mustard stains on it. From college. So she sat there with her uncut hair, and I with my dirty shirt. All who give and receive such compliments are the wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.