066: Nonet


Etymology: Italian nonetto, from nono, ninth


nonet (plural nonets)

(music) a composition written for nine instruments or nine voices

(Can we date this quote?) Saturday Review:

The small-group sides are the best, with the nonet in particular coming through as a sparkling unit.

a group of nine nuclear or subatomic particles

I’m feeling lucky! A musical word for once. It’s been tainted with some physics, but that’s all right. I read two articles from the Daily Cal; the first one is not fit to reproduce or even link to here (it made it to the Huffington Post for some of the wrong reasons). The second, “Why good girls like bad boys,” by Mia Shaw, can be found here.

Let me be clear: I am not a relationships expert. I am, however, the archetypal “nice guy” who has blundered time and again in the minefield of love. I am also Asian (oriental) yet relatively un-traumatized from my life experiences. I will try here to provide some balanced insight into what’s “going on.” I will be drawing on my own experiences and observations, and virtually no external sources, so this can’t be taken like a thesis or anything nearly as serious.

And yes, I really shouldn’t be spending all my time on writing this, but I happen to like writing.

Our first problem jumps out immediately: nailing down the definition of a “nice guy” against a “bad boy.” Webster’s and Britannica fail spectacularly; this phenomenon is too recent to be researched easily. We can, however, lay down some blanket characteristics of both classes. The “nice guy” is … as the label implies, usually a pleasant person who has a default behavior of being agreeable. At the minimum there must be a façade of this.

Beyond this, though, the spectrum is too wide to be definite: there are the false-nice-guys, who will try awkwardly to sweet-talk their way into a girl’s pants, but really have some truly awful personalities; there are the genuine-nice-guys, who are really just that nice for reasons known best to themselves, and then there are the nice-guys-in-between. There are nice guys who are so passive, so deferential – so un-assertive – that they come across as complete pushovers. There are nice guys who don’t suffer from that kind of condition. There are nice guys who are needy and nice guys who aren’t; there are nice guys who whine and there are nice guys who don’t.

We’ll delve into the psychology of some of these later on. But now our task returns to definition – the latter part of definition – what we’ll address as the “bad boy.” This class is even harder to flesh out and throw into high contrast. We’ll use the same generalization as with the “nice guys:” males who don’t default to the nice behavior, whether they’re only putting that on as a shell or if they’re genuinely “bad.” They span the same wide spectrum (if not wider).

There’s no blame to be pasted: not on the “bad boys,” not on the girls, and probably not on the culture that constructed all this. Most of what’s said about “bad boys” is probably true (assuming what little I’ve heard is probably complete. “Bad boys” don’t show up often to talk about themselves): they are brimming with self-confidence, they don’t particularly care whether or not they have your approval, they do what they want. And indeed, most of what’s said about “nice guys” seems true enough to me too: “nice guys” tend to be more needy, “nice guys” tend not to go wild, “nice guys” don’t really show a girl a good time (that last one sizzles, but I can’t disagree).

The hard part is looking past the bitter vitriol and discerning what’s not-as-likely false.

Myth: all “bad boys” treat girls like scum and will end up making any girl they come in contact with unhappy.

Suggested truth: a select few with problems will do this. WITH PROBLEMS. This includes domestic violence / abuse. The real juicy core of a “bad boy” that girls want is the princely side of the beast from “Beauty and the Beast:” beneath a vicious shell lies a sweet side that they show only for and only to the beauty. And, as the animated Disney version demonstrates, this can be quite charming. If you’re a jerk to everyone but blush and stutter and falter in your manner in front of that girl, it’s probably somewhat appealing.

Myth: all “nice guys” lose the girls because they’re too homogeneous about their behavior: sickeningly nice all the time.

Suggested truth: not much to revise here. It’s completely plausible to believe that girls get bored of the gentleman routine day after day. What’s more, that kind of routine doesn’t really appeal to girls in the first place. Always deferential, always waiting for somebody else to make the decision, because they don’t want to run any risks of offending anybody.

There’s a whole sub-point to be expanded here: for want of self-confidence, a common “nice guy” behavior is to be as pleasant as possible to everyone. This includes absolute deference, absolute passiveness: “I don’t want to offend you by imposing my opinion upon you: I’m going to spoil you by playing the yes-man, by always asking your opinion before offering mine, by NEVER seeking to think that I know better than you.”

Quite honestly, that sort of behavior is disturbing to observe. It borders very nearly on being masochistic, and we all know how we react when we see that sort of play in public. The archetype of the wishy-washy guy is really, really cringe-worthy – picture the doe-eyed, wide-grinned sort of imbecile wandering around Sproul Plaza with a narrow-eyed, fox-grinned girl leading him by the nose.

Like it or not, the general sketch of a “male” figure is set in stone. It’s not a very clear sketch, but it’s still set in stone. We may not be banging rocks together, but we’re still the tragically de facto breadwinners (this is not my being sexist. You can either support the family or be labeled the fat, useless deadbeat) who ought to be strong, intelligent, and sexy. I’m sure many males still take the apron as a mark of shame (I personally think I look hilariously great in an apron, holding a spatula and frying pan).

Again I generalize (dangerously): girls go by the book, by that sketch of masculinity. If you want to break from it, you need a supremely redeeming feature to offset that. Being witty, extraordinarily well-read, or powerfully self-confident often helps. If you do not possess any such qualities, being a not-very-manly man will not do you any good.

One of the common failings of the nice guy is the attack. The attack is anything that ranges from the awful pick-up line to the hour or two in the cozy coffee shop. For some reason, nice guys are often abysmal at this.

At this point I’m not even sure any more: I think I’m starting to blur the line between “nice guy” and “incompetent guy” – it so happens that these two classes often seem to share many qualities, in my eyes.

What a depressing post of a thousand and two hundred words.



One thought on “066: Nonet

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