It’s an annoying word when you keep saying it.

May 22, 2007 at 12:44 pm | Posted in family, hot housewives eager to please, hot women who want my lad, meeting your partner, tales of youth | 38 Comments

I’m a nice guy. Always have been. Ask my friends or co-workers to describe me, and I guarantee you one of the first adjectives they’ll use will be “nice”. I’m the guy women can talk to, open up to. I’m like a brother to them, you see. Non-threatening. One of the lads, but also a sensitive bastard. A shoulder to cry on for girls in between fuck-buddies. Oh yes, yes, tell me again about how terrible it is for you being with that guy, I don’t have any feelings for you myself at all. No, of course I’m not thinking about taking you from behind here in the college library, I really am just here for you as a friend.

When the summer of 1999 rolled around, I had lived out my teenage years and was sick and tired of always being Nice Guy Kavvy. By that time, I had somehow managed to bag myself a lovely girlfriend, and was having the time of my life at university. Several months before, a bunch of us got loans and spent a fortune on J1 Visas so we could spend a debauched summer in the US. Though I didn’t know it, and only came to realise it as I thought about this post, I spent the months leading up to that summer working myself up to burying Nice Guy Kav and playing the role of Kav the Bastard with as many slappers girls as possible.

As soon as I left my tear-soaked girl and family at Departures in Shannon Airport, I was intent on reinventing myself for an America that knew nothing of me. No small-town preconceptions to hold me back because nobody cared where I was from or what I’d done; yes, despite cosmetic pretensions of big-city savoir-faire in the gaping jaws of the Celtic Tiger, Galway was still a small town at heart, a shadowy beast that thrived on gossip and nepotism. Still does. I, though, could be whoever and whatever I wanted, in the land of the free and the home of the slave.

You can’t reinvent yourself overnight. You start small. We sat one warm salty evening on the Boardwalk in Wildwood and all I did was say hello to some girls. Unremarkable, except in my head, where I’d had to work myself up to it for half an hour.

It helped that American girls were so forthcoming. In my (limited) experience, Irish women are painfully reticent in expressing their interest, so I was constantly left uncertain of their desires and motives. Were they into me, or just having a laugh? No such worries with the Americans.

“Damn girl, he is hot! Hey baby!” a girl proclaimed one day as I wandered to work in my gay khaki shorts/jeans shirt uniform. I said nothing, because truthfully, it took me a while to process that it was me they were talking about. Made my day, that did.

You don’t need a blow-by-blow (heh) account – suffice to say that my first six weeks as I-really-don’t-give-a-shite-about-your-feelings Kav was very successful. I two-timed. I even three-timed. I caused girls to argue about me. One of them did that head movement/fingerwag combo that black women do on Ricki Lake. It was fucking brilliant. I was almost cocky.

Then I met Linzi, and she stripped me back to myself with a single look. I felt foolish and vulnerable in front of her, like a man playing himself on stage. I was me but not me. To bring myself to talk to her, I needed the confidence of my new persona, but to get her to like me, I had to be myself. I spotted her on the day she started work on the pier, and found her a few nights later in a club. I was sober, having just finished my shift, but I took the plunge regardless and started chatting to her. I was secretly delighted when she wouldn’t let things go further than a snog.

After she blanked me a couple of days later on the pier, ostensibly because she wanted nothing to do with me, when in reality she was just paranoid because she felt she looked a state, I resolved that if I didn’t say something to her, I’d always regret it. The next time we met, I took her aside and told her I was into her and wanted to see her. I said we only had the summer, so there was no time to fuck about playing games. She agreed. We’ve been together since.

She fell in love with me, and for a while, I was really afraid that she’d fallen in love with someone else. It was exhausting, you see, keeping up the facade. It was a hell of a lot of fun, but it wasn’t me. I didn’t even make it last the full summer, yet somehow, Linzi looked past the farts, the scratching, the burps, the random squawks, the odd habits like readwalking, the unintentional rudeness, the temper, the terrible drunken states I got myself into and had to be rescued out of, the obsession with her arse, all these things she’s managed to accept, and she’s stuck with me. Which is good.

Having spent my teens wanting to be someone else, and then a summer being someone I hardly recognised, I find it odd that these days, in spite of all my faults and worries, I don’t really mind being me. I’ll never set the world on fire, but nice is alright, mostly.

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  1. Nice post. Really!

  2. Heh. Thanks.

  3. You were lucky the wind didn’t change, you’d have been stuck forever as Kav-the-chancer. Main thing is you’re comfortable with yourself (ok, just unhand the lad for five minutes).

  4. Ah, there’s the Kav we all know and love – welcome back!

  5. Conan, my hand is perpetually attached to the lad. There’s no point.

    Flirty, I didn’t realise I’d been away…

  6. Ah Kav, you’re an inspiration to us all.

    There’s a bastard inside me straining at the leash for years.

  7. And please don’t respond by saying this is a coutionary tale …

  8. That’s so sweet…..more info from your time as Kav the bastard would be good though!

  9. I’ve had a similar journey. I bastarded for… Ooh, probably six years. Glad he’s gone, but I did keep a tadge of the confidence he had. No bad thing.

    At least, I think he’s gone…

  10. Dario, a summer away is the best thing I ever did. If I could go back I’d have done it every summer.
    ~
    Aisling: What are you after? I don’t know how much I can divulge on such a family-friendly blog.
    ~
    badgerdaddy: Six years? I’d never have had the energy.

  11. OMG Kav: Wildwood?!
    As a Philly native we used to call it “Childwood.” I spent a few weeks working there one summer after high school. There were lots of cute Irish guys there.
    It’s always best to be yourself. Mr. M wasn’t frontin’ when we met.
    Ah, true love.

  12. Why Childwood, Medbh? Because it’s a family kind of place?

    I’d love to go back there for a look some day.

  13. She’s a lucky girl, that Linzi. While “nice” isn’t necessarily the most exciting descriptor, it is the most important when it comes down to it.

    I bet that accent of yours worked like a charm.

  14. Could have written that first paragraph to describe me, word for word. Bloody hell, I grew to despise being called “nice”

    These days when, like you, I’m married to a wonderful woman and don’t have to worry about being in the meat market, I can live with “nice”

  15. Sassy, now that you mention it, the accent thing worked both ways – she loved mine and I found hers très sexy too. Still do, in fact. When she’s not nagging me, that is.
    ~
    Kim: True, it’s easy to be magnanimous about it when you’ve got someone, but if something happened and I was single again, I’d probably go back to hating it.

  16. Sweet post.

    Any Joisey photos?

  17. Ahhhh, a little pinch of bastardisation to an overly self conscious personality always works. I also had a J1 summer like that, San Francisco…ahh, the blog is great, it always gets me reminiscing

  18. Kav,
    Shhh I’m sneaking out of revising to read your blog.
    It was called Childwood because it was the place known for underage drinking and hijinks. We rented places down the shore in Wildwood all during high school there in the summers and would get shit-faced. There’s a Philly tradition of senior week where h.s. graduates go to celebrate.
    Haven’t been there in years.

  19. Yeah, six years. It was fun, but I also hurt a lot of people that were perfectly lovely. If I could go back… I don’t know if I’d change anything, honestly.
    God, that sounds awful, doesn’t it? I do love this post though. I’m stressed at the moment, alcohol levels are dangerously low and my cake levels are near zero, so this nearly made me sniffle a little bit because it’s very lovely.
    And pre-bastard days, I too could relate perfectly to the first paragraph.

  20. “I felt foolish and vulnerable in front of her, like a man playing himself on stage.”

    I managed to read a “with” that wasn’t really there in that sentence. I have no idea why but it would still lead to feelings of foolishness and vulnerability so I almost missed the fast there was no “with.”

    Did you go to the US with BUNAC? I wnet to Minnesota through them and that’s where I met my husband! I wonder how many marriages that organisation has spawned.

    You’re lovely, Kav, you know that? There is nothing in the world wrong with nice. Nice can go just as well with interesting as bastard can. In fact, the myth is that bastard goes with interesting a whole lot more than it does. Bastards are ultimately boring.

    Your Linzi is a lucky lady, indeed.

  21. That was a lovely post.
    Seems most of the men I have met have been going through there bastard stage but you post has given me hope 😀

  22. “nice” is always how they describe the guy next door who’s just been arrested for running a kiddie porn ring in his basement.

  23. Why does this all read like the closing narration to a John Hughes movie. All it’s short is (Breakfast Club) “don’t you forget about me,” fist in the air as Kav walks off into the sunset (with Linzi).

    You can’t be much older than me, Kav? 1999 was my last year in school. Jeez, you grew up fast.

  24. so what yer sayings is that yer married to a woman but yer secretly ghey? is that the hidden message? I always knew.

  25. “Sweet,” that’s how everyone used to describe me in high school, believe it or not. My yearbooks were full of “You’re so sweet, don’t ever change,” which lead me to the conclusion that no one in high school actually knew the real me. Then again, that was because I didn’t shit where I ate, and only gave the ride to college boys.

    I used to like the bad boys, but they’re too much work, and they’re all the same. I’ve got a bad boy with a heart of gold now (think Spike from “Buffy”), and life’s a lot better.

    There’s a lot to be said for “nice” as you get older. Cheer up, if you outlive Linzi, you’ll be getting your hole right-and-left in the rest home. Not to mention the nurses.

  26. I tried being bad. I did all sort of wild things: running with a scissors, not eating my vegetables, using words like Linux in female company. One time I got barred from a Macra field day for staging a mini coup by locking myself in the MC’s portacabin – I had the microphone all to myself for a good 20 minutes. Chaos! About a dozen cars had been moved because they were causing and obstruction before they broke the door down. Didn’t get a shag out of it though so I went back to being nice.

  27. jali: Never heard of him/her/it. Who on earth is that?
    ~
    Damian: Thanks. I always wanted to get out to San Fran, still intend to one day.
    ~
    Medbh: I see. Now that I think about it, I worked with a LOT of people from Philly.
    ~
    badgerdaddy: We can’t be having that. I’ve mailed you some emergency cakes.
    ~
    sam: BUNAC was who Linzi went with – the Irish one is the equivalent of BUNAC, but the name escapes me now. Same sort of thing though, known by its initials.

    Weird though – I wonder if there are thousands of couples who met like we did? I thought we were a freakish anomaly.

    And yeah, Liniz knows she’s very lucky – I tell her every day while she cooks me dinner and massages me.
    ~
    ellie: I think everyone can be a bastard but there just comes a point when it’s too much like hard work.
    ~
    kara: Lucky for me I don’t have a basement. I do have an attic though…
    ~
    knudsen: Heh. Look man, no matter how hard you try, I’m not going to respond to your advances.
    ~
    Slim: Wahey, there’s a thought to keep me going. I can see why people may have thought you were sweet, the fuckin fools.
    ~
    Sneezy: See, just what I said: too much like hard work.

    I realise that this post comes off a bit twee and – ugh – positive, but it was something I wanted to document. Besides, I’ve always got Twenty at hand to call me a cunt if I get too far astray.

  28. And Blarneyman, I’m 28. Fucking hell man, your response – or at least the insinuation behind your response – is so typically Irish, I’m tearing my hair out. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve said that to me or Linzi with a sneer. “Ara sure you’re only young, what would you want settling down?” “Biteen young to be gettin married, aren’t ye?” and so forth.

    I don’t get what the alternative would be. I knew, a hundred percent, that Linzi was the person I wanted to be with. What was I supposed to do, tell her to hang on for a few years until I reached an age where it would be more socially acceptable for me to be in a serious relationship?

    Personally, I think my age was irrelevant – I was old enough and experienced enough to know that what I’d found was what made me happy. The fact that it happened to me at twenty and I’ve now got two kids and have been married for nearly five years, when most of my friends are still living a free-and-easy lifestyle much as we did ten years ago as students, means nothing to Linzi and I. To answer your question, yes, I probably did grow up fast, but long before I met Linzi. My mother left my dad to look after us when I was ten, so I’ve had to be, to an extent, self-sufficient since that age.

    Frankly I couldn’t give a fuck that Irish society looks at you like a freak if you get married before you’re 29.

    Anyway, sorry, this response turned into a vicious rant – it’s not specifically directed against you, more against every friend, family member, and opinionated taxi driver I’ve ever been judged by on this. I react harshly to this kind of comment because I am so tired of having to justify myself to (Irish, always Irish) people about why it’s okay that I am only going to be 43 when my kids are grown up.

  29. Jaysus, I’m sorry. What the hell did I say?

    I don’t think anyone ever says that with a sneer, I know I didn’t. I said it with a good natured gasp and a bit of self-reflection. I would prefer to have what you have, so no need to get hurt.

  30. I met a guy while on a J1 in Chicago who turned out to be not the man of my dreams but a crazy stalker type who after I dumped him came to Dublin “as a friend” and proceeded to spend every night crying and writing poetry in the living room where I’d set up a camp bed for him. Eventually I had to kick him out cos my flatmate couldn’t get up to go to the loo in the middle of the night without him waylaying her begging her to intervene and make me see sense. It’s funny now but at the time I was a nervous wreck…

  31. blarneyman, I apologise again – I know it was my own stuff that made me respond like that. I’m just a bit oversensitive about that particular topic because it’s something I spent the best part of three years arguing with people about before I left Ireland to move here.
    ~
    caro: Welcome along. Sounds like that’s the scary flipside of the situation Sam and I found ourselves in. Was he American or from over here? Sounds a bit mental. I can imagine you must’ve been crapping it. Another girl I met in America was pregnant by the end of the summer with some random shag’s kid…fucking disastrous.

  32. He was American – I suppose I should have seen the warning signs when he showed me photos of his ex-girlfriend and she was my exact doppleganger, not joking we could have been identical twins. But I was young and stupid and he took me interesting places…

  33. That’s freaky. Are you definitely rid of him then, or is there a chance he’ll arrive over in a few months wearing nothing but a Santa outfit and a smile?

  34. No offence. Be proud of your life.

  35. That was ten years ago, and I live in another country, so I think I’m safe enough. Funny you said it’s freaky, that’s exactly what we used to call him: Freaky Joe.

  36. Kav, I would love to be 43 when my kids are grown up 🙂 Best, best thing about having kids young is that you are young when they (hopefully) leave the house 🙂 I have found that Irish people comment on whatever path you chose marriage-wise. ie Bit long in the tooth, that wan for a fancy wedding, white dress me arse ! or the commonlaw marriage is all the rage now anyway …etc etc. I married a gasp! divorced guy. Oh the drama !!!!!!

    USIT were the J1 guys in my day. Filling up the US vacation spots with English speakers …what a service 😕

  37. ah right – was forgetting there what BUNAC actually stands for. Sorry.

  38. blarneyman: Indeed. Pride doesn’t sit well with me though.
    ~
    Caro: Freaky Joe eh? Sounds like a lovely lad.
    ~
    EGW: That’s probably true – maybe bitching about people getting married is just an Irish tradition, like hurling and hating knackers.

    And USIT! That’s the one.
    ~
    sam: BUNAC, USIT, tis all (mostly) the same.


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