If you can't say anything nice, I'll do it for you for ten dollars and a foot massage

My superhero weakness is empathy.

When I was little I saw it as my sworn duty to befriend every new kid, every chubby kid, every weirdo booger-eating kid in my class. It’s always been second nature to put myself in other people’s shoes.

I credit good parenting for this. Also, Davey and Goliath.

Now as an adult I still feel compelled to make people--friends, strangers, the Bangladeshi cab driver--feel good. Let me be clear: I'm no Pollyanna. I can be as cynical and self-loathing as any writer on my side of the Brooklyn Bridge. I agree that The Bachelor is at its best when some blonde chippie runs off the set crying. And I’m certainly not above a good Paris Hilton jab because frankly, she’s worked very very hard to earn it. To not make fun of Paris Hilton probably hurts her feelings and now you know how I feel about that.

And if you come after my family, I'll cut you, bitch. I totally will. I have a baby nail clipper in my diaper bag and I'm not afraid to use it.

I suppose it's a bit paradoxical that now this relatively nice person finds herself here in the World of Blog--a forum where anonymity brings out the inner douchebag to a degree that gives PMS a run for its money. I could surely gravitate to the dark side, join the troll patrol. Snark comes easy to me. But when it comes down to it, I've got a kid. A really good one. And I don't plan on messing her up just yet. Which means I don't want her coming across something I've written and thinking, Mommy is mean.

Or worse: Mommy is mean. Yay!

So in honor of Thalia, I'm spreading some love from my insignificant little subdomain. I call it Say Something Nice Day at Mom 101.

In the future, maybe we'll have an entire Say Something Nice Month with its own website and a big section in the Hallmark store and a few treacly public service announcements. (Hey, maybe we can get Lorraine Bracco!) But for now I'll start with a day. A day devoted to saying nice things about ordinarily disparaged topics--all with as little irony as I can muster.

I'm just that kind of girl.

Richard Simmons
I sat across the aisle from him on a plane ride from LA to New York. While I admit that he was so, um, energetic that the cabin (quietly) applauded when he fell asleep, he couldn't have been nicer to the flight attendants. They each took turns sitting beside him and, hands pressed into his, confessed their every dietary woe. He listened attentively and with genuine compassion. He also offered each of them free advice, like "don't eat the bread."

New Jersey
If there were no New Jersey there would be no Judy Blume. And if there were no Judy Blume, I would never have been the most popular girl in fourth grade for one week, thanks to my copy of Forever which I shared with my entire class in the hallway ouside the school library. (Especially page 64, heh-heh.)

I'm all for gay marriage, and as such, I'm all for the music they play at their weddings.

Those Motivational Posters
I guarantee you that those inspirational posters you find around the office have helped more than a few people out of some tough spots in life. I myself have looked at that You Don't Fail Until You Quit poster many a time and thought, you know, they've got a point there. Know why? Because you don't fail until you quit! It's true!

You've got to step back a minute and appreciate the loyalty that some people devote to a hairstyle that's been out of style going on twenty years. These are strong, confident people, people at peace with who they are. Couldn't we all take a lesson here?

Kids Who Go to Band Camp
Sure it's a good punch line; Universal milked it for like three American Pie sequels. But we need to encourage kids to play the clarinet or the tuba or the harpsichord so that they can grow into adults who play those instruments. Without music, what would people dance badly to at their high school reunions? And how lame would porn be?

Bridesmaids Dresses
At least you don't care when you spill your drink on one.

Jared From Subway
Let's give the guy some credit, he lost 250 pounds without eating a single crappy ricotta cheese dessert.

The Advertising Team Who Writes the Ads with Jared From Subway
Take my word for it, they're not happy about it either. I'm sure the client is all, "Guys, you have to use Jared. He's testing really well in focus groups." And the team is all, "Fine, but I'm not putting it on my reel." Then they watch Nike ads and weep openly.

Fudgie the Whale
When I was a kid, Carvel ran commercials that said, "This Father's Day, get your dad a Fudgie the Whale!" Year after year, my dad would joke, "Where's my Fudgie the Whale?" After I turned 16, my best friend and I talked a gullible Carvel manager into hiring us as cake decorators. When I wasn't snarfing down the chocolate crunchies directly from the tub, I made my dad his very own Fudgie the Whale ice cream cake and when I gave it to him he cried. If you make fun of Fudgie the Whale, you hate my dad and you hate Father's Day and you hate America too.

The Bloomin' Onion
If you have a problem with the Bloomin' Onion, you also hate America. This goes double for you, Upper East Siders.

I'm stumped. I can think of nothing good to say because all bloggers are narcissistic navel-gazers who write about the most boring crap imaginable that no one, including their own mothers, would ever want to read in a million years. In fact I don't even believe that you're here right now.


Blogger Jess Riley said...

This was GREAT!!!! Loved, loved, loved it.

I feel compelled to add that last night, I saw my first "sideways" mullet. That's right: short on one side, long on the other. Is this a new trend, or just an anomoly?

2/27/06, 12:20 AM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

Thalia your Mom is so nice. Beware, though I found out early that nice is a really bad thing to ever say on your blog.

You're so damn alternative, I guess.

2/27/06, 12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hehehe! You are such a witty writer!!

2/27/06, 2:14 AM  
Blogger the stefanie formerly known as stefanierj said...

As my favorite sports commentator says: Mullets--business in the front but a party in the back.

An epic post. I, too, am more empathy-laden than the blogworld allows me to be. I liked Andrew Ridgely because he was the Wham! band member who wasn't anyone's favorite. I also adopted orange as my favorite color because it wasn't anyone else's, and I was afraid it would feel neglected. So you are doing a service here indeed.

That said, I will repeat one of the funniest jokes I've ever heard a comic make about Jared. He said "He lost weight eating SUBS, dude. Did you see how big he was before? I mean, what was he eating before--cars??"

2/27/06, 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice one - impressive - I'm not sure I can top that one.

And PS - I'm from NJ - and the only good thing that I can think of is that they pump your gas.

2/27/06, 8:03 AM  
Blogger MrsFortune said...

What a funny post! I see you couldn't bring yourself to but George W on the list ... :) I challenge you!

2/27/06, 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WORD. All of it: SPOT ON.

I was just discussing my love for NJ-Cheese-Moms ala Carmela Soprano with my husband (who is Jersey-bred). This particular breed of woman is one of the things I miss most about living ouside the NYC-area.


2/27/06, 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved this!

I like the randomness of the people/things you chose to be nice to. The mind can be a strange place...

And Jess...a sideways mullet? I think you may have discovered a new species there.

2/27/06, 9:53 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I got a kick out of this post. I've visited from time to time and just wanted to delurk to say that.

In the words of my almost 4-year-old little man, "You cwack me OUT!"

2/27/06, 1:14 PM  
Blogger jess said...

heres what came to mind:
-fox news
-dubya (thanks mrs fortune!)
-department store perfume salespeople
-those hot pink fuzzy "track" suits

bridesmaid dresses is a great one! i think we all *love* spending that kind of money on something we'll only look terrible in once

2/27/06, 1:35 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hey, nothing bad can be said about Richard Simmons. The man can make grannies get up and dance to the oldies - that's gotta be a superpower.

I'm all for a Say Something Nice Day. There isn't enough of it on the internet.

2/27/06, 1:53 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Jess and MF: I am not nearly creative enough to find something nice to say about Fox News, W, or Wal-Mart for that matter--except that one day soon, if we're lucky, they will each be smote from the face of the earth.

2/27/06, 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, thank you for befriending me in the fourth grade, when I was the new kid and wore skirts to school far too often and read books a lot in the corner. (She really was nice, everyone, it's true). And thank you for sharing Forever, which I still consider one of the classics of great literature, although Michael's mole was kinda' gross. And thank you for making sure that by the time I entered high school I was not the utter geek that I was well on track towards being when first we met, even if I was still suspiciously preppy (it was the 80's after all....)

But when will you stop slamming that bridesmaid dress? I'm getting divorced, for god's sake! ;-)

2/27/06, 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, Davey and Goliath??!! What memories! Thanks for that.

I, too, have a little problem with over empathizing. It is an interesting match for me and my husband b/c his family is very into making fun of nearly everyone they come into contact with. So, I have two fully developed sides to my personality.

And I used to want a Fudgie the Whale in the worst way. I would see it advertised on TV, but alas, our small town had no Carvel so I was out of luck.

2/27/06, 2:32 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

In honor of Say Something Nice Day, I'd like to take this opportunity to say that NJ rocks and poo poo on anyone who doesn't think so. Granted, I grew up here and have never really traveled anywhere else (except Aruba on my honeymoon) but that doesn't mean I can't have an opinion. Sure we've got bad drivers, the cost of living is INSANE, guidos still rule the world but without that you wouldn't be able to enjoy things like The Sopranos!! hehehehe!!!

2/27/06, 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved it!!! Loved the shared memories of Carvel (but you missed the punk rocker cakes!), loved the Cher comment, and loved Mel's retort about the bridesmaid dress... even though it was one of the worst ones ever. (Although... didn't you have to wear an off the shoulder cotton candy pink dress for Terri's wedding?)

My kids currently say "shit" and "fuck" (even if they don't use them in the proper context). I feel that I'm preparing them for the real, harsh world :)

2/27/06, 3:46 PM  
Blogger IzzyMom said...

First of all, how is it that I've never been here before? I like it here!

Second of all, your self-analysis reminds me a lot of...well, me! I can be a megabitch and I'm a bit cynical but I can't help but want to prop people up when their down, compliment them when they're feeling bad about themselves or tell them they're great when it's clear they feel otherwise. (I always made friends with all those kids, too) But just don't be mean to me or anyone I care about or else!!!

Third, I adore Judy Blume beyond words amd I grew up on Carvel ice cream and those silly , delicious cakes and BAD commercials...lol

This was a very NICE post ;-)

2/27/06, 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, I think you should turn this into a meme... charge everyone to come up with a list of five things to say something nice about (when they wold normally be making fun of it or hating). Make it voluntary if you hate assigning homework...

2/27/06, 7:08 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Mullets have not died in New England. They can be seen during the Car Ice Races!

2/27/06, 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this post too. Funny and upbeat. Two thumbs up!

BTW, mullets can't be but so bad -- how can thousands of hockey players and fans be wrong??

2/27/06, 8:30 PM  
Blogger Antique Mommy said...

Speaking as a fellow narcissistic navel-gazing blogger -- great post!

2/27/06, 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot say anything nice about walmart - but my college students love to go there to cruise for guys.

And W does give us good things to laugh about - like strategery and um, the war in Iraq *she says very sarcastically while staring at her military husband*

And Fox News - yeah, I can't tackle that one.

And dude - look at all the damn comments here!

2/27/06, 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still giggling over "the Advertising Team Who Writes the Ads with Jared From Subway" weeping openly and watching Nike ads. Can anyone seriously relate to Jared and could you eat two of those gross subs every day? Where did he come from?

Also, I'm a newcomer and a big fan of your blog.

2/28/06, 12:08 AM  
Blogger The Histrionics of a Fat Housewife said...

Bah humbug.

But I can say some nice things about W. He gave us a tax cut that stimulated the economy. He smoked out Saddam bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq with a war that has virtually paid for itself. He has given America security while protecting liberty. And he has really big cowboy hats.

Fox News? It's fair and balanced, of course. Says so right on their logo. Anyway, how do you think I know so much about W?

2/28/06, 6:15 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

If I have learned anything from this post it's that reader comments can be even better than the post itself. It's like sticking around after the movie for the outtakes--which justify the entire price of admission. Befriending the color orange? Genius.

I've also learned that you all have a disproportionate obsession with mullets. Do I detect some hairdo skeletons in the closet?

2/28/06, 10:08 AM  
Blogger Shalee said...

Love it! Especially the part about the blooming onion... I'm getting hungry.

You hit the part about blogging. It really is mindful drabble that most of the time we reread and think, "Why on earth did I put that on the internet for everyone to see?"

I like the Say Something Nice idea. It's the nicest thing I've read all day.

2/28/06, 2:42 PM  
Blogger Jayne said...

Great list! I do appreciate the occasional expression of positivity punctuating the usual whining in blogistan. And your writing is so crisp and clever, love it.

Have you seen the "demotivators" (hysterical anti-motivation posters) from http://www.despair.com/ ? Or the glorious mullut haiku website? http://www.beerchurch.com/mullet_haiku.htm I live to spread the joy : )

3/1/06, 7:41 PM  
Blogger BabyonBored said...

I actually got my neighbor Julie grounded when we were 9 for lending her Forever. I was always ahead of my time. And my mom was cool with it. But what they hell was with Wifey? Did she jump the shark or what?

4/24/06, 4:31 PM  

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