Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Morty "Botanical" Sherbet

Right now, all across this crazy scoop of ice cream known as Planet Earth, lonely young men are typing a certain combination of words into their computers, hoping desperately for some kind of answer. They may be sitting in a cubicle at work, a solitary bedroom in their parents' house, or perhaps a college dormitory or a coffeeshop with wireless. But wherever they are, they consider themselves plagued with a syndrome--the so-called "nice guy syndrome." What is this mysterious malady that millions of young men every day are searching the worldwide web for a cure? As we know, a syndrome is a collection of symptoms making up a single condition. What are the symptoms of this syndrome? Who has it? Is it even real? I venture to state that if a couple million men in their twenties are spending their time investigating a syndrome, then at least in their own minds this syndrome must be real. Who are we to judge? And I have seen the statistics. The owner of this web log has given me the honor and privilege of looking over his website traffic reports. These reports are fascinating. They show in great detail information about persons who visit this website--the make of computer, the location of the visitor, everything, even down to the screen resolution they've set on their machine. But the most fascinating thing to me has been what the records reveal about the exact words and phrases visitors to this website have typed into the Google search engine in order to find relief for their most pressing problem. These men type in things like "nice guy syndrome," as you'd expect, but also "how to not be a nice guy," "how to stop being a nice guy," "nice guy cure," and other surprising and perhaps distressing combinations. Now, never in my long career as a human have I, Morty "Botanical" Sherbet (not "Sherbert," damn it!) had to concern myself with being too much of a nice guy, but it does strike me as faintly ridiculous that somebody would want to try NOT to be one. I mean, shouldn't these fellas be searching for "How to BE a nice guy" or "How can I be nicer?" or something along those more enlightened lines? Sure. But you and I know that life isn't that wrapped-up and simple, and in fact, if these guys are suffering from a kind of condition that drives them in the "wee, small hours of the morning" as Francis Albert Sinatra used to sing, drives and compels them to look up answers to this syndrome the way you and I might investigate some troubling, unknown symptom that has alarmingly struck us in the night, well, who's to blame them? We may find their desire to stop being nice to be rather baffling, but there's got to be something at the bottom of this, some genuine pain or frustration, and I think it behooves us as compassionate guys and gals to look more deeply at this forbidden topic: the weird and mysterious thing known as "Nice Guy Syndrome." Let's get a woman's point of view on this topic and take a seat at my favorite restaurant, Algae & Elegance at the Raspy Puppet, with my dear friend Minerva "Sizzler" Plankton, and ask her what she thinks about this whole "Nice Guy" business. Minerva sits across from you in a dim booth, stirring her cocktail, a Radiator as it happens, with an elegant finger, a gleam of glee in her eye as she begins. "Ah, yes, the fabled 'nice guy syndrome.' Simply put, it's a crock." Your eyes bug out like they're novelty-eyes on springs when she says this. "Don't act naive with me, Morty." She stirs her drink faster and faster, causing through centripetal force the contents of her cocktail to tsunami onto the red velvet tablecloth. "There's no such thing on this phony, two-bit earth like a 'nice guy' and you know it. So how could there be a syndrome for them? It just doesn't add up. Every man I've met in this world has been a shark. Why don't you investigate that?" You ask Minerva why these young men are researching the topic, then. "Well, Morty, I don't doubt for a minute that these gents somehow THINK they're nice guys, that they're deluding themselves. Maybe they've got some kind of neurotic complex that makes them act this way, the whole 'nice guy' bit. But deep down, where it counts, do you think they're actually nice? I'd give my left arm to find a nice guy, but I know it ain't going to happen. And by the way, 'ain't' IS in the dictionary, I just checked, so before you start hounding me on my subjunctive modular whoosits, just keep your trap shut. Why do you think I come HERE every evening, to this crazy Puppet place? It's because even though I know there's not a nice guy, at least...not one for me...well, I still believe deep down for some cock-eyed reason that maybe there is. And where is he? He's sitting by himself in his long-johns staring at a computer screen trying to learn how to be a jerk! Jeepers, this world is screwy." Minerva idly fingers the cheese cubes piled up into a replica of Stonehenge that looms ominously on her plate. You ask Minerva, "So--what would you tell these guys?" Minerva snorts. "Tell 'em? I wouldn't tell 'em nothin'. Let them learn the score on their own, the hard way. Look, I gotta go. Talking about these guys has spoiled my appetite." Minerva pushes a button on the table and our portion of the floor moves through a secret moving panel in the wall behind us and we leave the restaurant like consolation-prize winners on a game show being rapidly removed from the stage.

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