Opinion » Bill Cope

The Nice Bill Era

Week one


Hi guys! How's YOUR day going? Are those new GLASSES? I sure LIKE 'em! They make you look so much YOUNGER! And THINNER! Say, did ya' MISS me?

Hah hah, what's THAT? You say you didn't notice I was GONE? Hah hah, you big kidder you. Of course I was gone. Didn't you notice Badger Bob was filling in for me while I went on my vision quest? I'll bet you DID, you big kidder you. So anyway, you guys wanna hear about what I learned on my vision quest? Hah hah, you come back here and sit down, you stinker! I know you're just kidding.

So anyway, I went on this vision quest because I was so traumatized when a slew of gun nuts said mean things about me when I wrote a column about the asinine things they want to do. Like making concealed weapons legal in national parks and college campuses ... that sort of asinine thing. And after thinking and thinking about it, I decided maybe the problem wasn't so much what I'd said, but the way I'd said it. What's worse, I was forced to consider the possibility I'm not as likable as I might be. Why else would those gun nuts say all that mean STUFF about me? Good QUESTION, huh?

So anyway, I decided to DO something ABOUT it! I believe that the only person who can change things for the better when it comes to himself is himself. In my case ... ME! That's why I went on this vision quest—to find the inner, nicer, better me. I mean, I've spent years writing this column as the NASTY me, and look where it got me. There's hardly a person left in Boise I haven't offended at one time or the other, and let me tell you, it's no fun being the only guy in town who can't find someone who'll pick me up at the airport.

So anyway, as to the vision quest itself, I thought and thought about it, and then decided I had a CHOICE to make. I could drive out south of Mountain Home and wander around alone in the desert, living off the land and licking the morning dew off of lizards, until all my demons and devils had been wrestled with. OR ... I could hang around nice people until I figured out what makes them so nice and likable. I went with the hanging-around-nice-people option because I decided my demons and devils weren't all that bad. At least, not worth driving to Mountain Home for.

My next step was to find some nice, likable people to hang out with. I know some, of course I do. Who DOESN'T? But the ones I know mostly work during the day and sort of like to be left alone when they get home at night. I can certainly appreciate their feelings on this matter. I, myself, like to unwind at the end of the day without some non-family person sitting next to me on the sofa, asking me question after question about how I got to be the way I am. I don't believe I would end up becoming so angry and rude as a couple of those people became by the third evening of me sitting there with them. But then, I've never had anyone do to me what I was doing to them, so I can't be sure.

So anyway, since by the middle of the first week I'd run out of nice people to vision quest with, what I ended up doing was, see, I found some nice and likable people on TV. Regis and Kelly. I bet you know 'em. Unfortunately, they're only on TV for an hour a day, so I had to tape their show and play it back over and over. I also watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood every morning. I know what you're thinking ... Mr. Rogers died some years ago, didn't he? Yes, he DID! But PBS still runs his show, and you know WHAT? He's just as nice as he ever was!

And by golly, it WORKED! I now know why people like likable people. And you know what? It's not for just one reason. That's what I couldn't figure out at first. See, I was looking for some kind of, like, magic ingredient that made nice people nice, but there's no magic ingredient. It's a bunch of things. A combination of things. Like smiling! Likable, nice people are smiling all the time. Big, toothy smiles—and as near as I can tell, they're not faking it.

And there's also EXUBERANCE! Nice people always seem to be bouncy and cheerful and exuberant! Check it OUT if you don't believe me. Watch Kelly Ripa for 12 hours a day, and you'll see what I mean.

And here's what I learned about being exuberant. It's all in the way you SAY things! You can't just drone ON and ON in the same monotone type of voice if you want to come across exuberant. You have to say some words HAPPIER than others. Nice, perky, exuberant people do this by flopping their hands around when they talk, and I can't do that when I write. Or, I suppose I COULD, but as my readers, there is no way you would know I was flopping my hands around every time I got to a happy word. So I had to come up with another way to make SOME words more EXUBERANT than the others. Can you guess out how I DO it? Hah hah!

Also, I learned not to talk so snooty, high-falutin' and big-wordy. It makes you sound elitist when you use big words and good grammar all the time. In fact, I'm worried about using the word "elitist" because it makes me sound sort of elitist, doesn't it? So from now on, when you see me use the word "snooty," you'll know I really mean "elitist." I'm still looking for a non-snooty substitute for "grammar."

And there's also being respectful. Thanks to my vision quest, I know now that likable, nice people always respect others and their opinions, and they never call them names like "dick" and "dip" and "numbnuts," as my friend Badger Bob is inclined to do when he's angry. And if something not-so-nice slips out, as is bound to happen in a society so filled with dicks, dips and numbnuts, nice people apologize for it. Like earlier, when I said what those gun nuts are up to is "asinine," I need to apologize for that, which I plan on doing personally in a later column. I probably should stop calling them "gun nuts" altogether. But let's take this one step at a time, OK? I'm still test driving the new nicer me, and you can't expect everything to change at once.

As to OTHER future columns, you can look forward to me changing my endorsement from Hillary to Obama. YES, can you BELIEVE it? I'm not entirely sure when I changed my mind, but I believe it to be a side effect of me becoming nicer and more likable.

One last thing I've learned—nice people ALWAYS compliment other people. Like ... "GREAT dinner, Honey," or "That's the best looking haircut I've ever SEEN, Fred!" So in closing, let me just say how PROUD I am of you for having read this whole, long column. You're just so darn SMART!