Because Nice Matters (or does it?)  

[audio link]

After a lifetime of pleasantries and politeness, rarely crossing the line,
smiling down the nice-nelly path to nowhere, before age, dementia
and death swallowed my mother, she stepped back. She stepped back
for Dad. Mom was his backdrop, the background to his foreground,
the consent to his control. In her mid-eighties she told me, I'm sorry
I raised you girls to be nice. Though liberating to hear, I'd learned long
ago that being a nice person only encouraged others to take advantage,
to use, to assign labels like pushover or easy target. Knowing this, I'd
still slip into its vortex while hearing these internal calls: be a good girl
now, know your place, mind your manners, if you don't have something
nice to say, say nothing at all! Mom's apologetic words freed my voice,
gave me the permission to write this (not-so-nice) piece by choice.

—Jeannie E. Roberts, Chippewa Falls, WI