Once upon a time, there was a group of horrible people. They used to go on horrible bus trips together to horrible places.
Every one of them was just horrible, even the bus driver. In fact, the bus driver was the most horrible person you will ever meet, and that's putting it nicely.
These horrible people would all push in to get on the bust first, especially the horrible bus driver.
So one day, all these horrible people are going on one of their horrible bus trips and the insults flying were horrible.
"You lot are so fake that even Barbie is jealous." "Yeah, well if I had a face like yours, I'd sue my parents."
"Ha ha! If laughter is the best medicine, your face must be curing the world." "I'm so jealous of people who don't know you." "When your mother dropped you off at school, did she get fined for littering?"
"Shut your mouth when you're talking to me!" "Those clothes you're wearing are so ugly, but at least they match your face." "Yeah, well why don't you slip into something more comfortable ... like a coma."
As the insults flew, the bus had a horrible crash and they all died.
They get to the pearly gates, and St Peter greets them. "The Lord said that you are all allowed to come in because you all had horrible lives and everybody was horrible to you. Now line up and don't forget that whatever you ask for you can have. After all, this is heaven."
So, they all line up for the first time without pushing in. Even the once horrible bus driver goes to the back of the line.
The first woman arrives. "Well, I've been horrible all my life, so I now want to be nice forever, and very beautiful!" Suddenly, she's nice and very beautiful.
A second woman arrives. "I want to be nice too and also very beautiful!" Immediately, she's nice and very beautiful.
One of the men steps up. "I want what they got, and I want to be very handsome too!" His wishes are granted instantly.
Finally, the bus driver at the end gets to speak to St Peter. "I want all those people who were on the bus with me to be horrible again; and very, very ugly."
The good advice to play nice doesn't just apply to children, and we should exercise it long after our mother can enforce it. We seem to know that playing nice with people is still important as adults, especially when the stakes are high. Ever noticed how nice even mean people are to us when they want something?
When you were a kid, your mother used to tell you to play nice with the other kids. Perhaps because we tend to give our best and most honest advice to those we love - whether they want it or not.
So maybe this playing nice to people thing is far more important than any of us give it credit for.
The good advice to play nice doesn't just apply to children, and we should exercise it long after our mother can enforce it.
We seem to know that playing nice with people is still important as adults, especially when the stakes are high.
Ever noticed how nice even mean people are to us when they want something? But how important is it to play nice?
Anton LaVey (1930-97), who was the founder of the legally incorporated Church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible (1969), seemed to have understood the importance of being nice.
Perhaps the fruit of his contrary musings, LaVey announced his epitaph was: "I only regret the times that I was too nice."
In many friendships and even marriages, it appears to me that being horrible to each other was the origin and necessary ingredient for most breakups.
I don't think that it is the disagreements alone - many good friendships and very married couples argue regularly - but rather the nastiness that accompanied these disagreements.
How often when we like someone do we say "they're nice" without ever considering that, of all their many talents, it's that they are nice to us that stands out the most.
Be nice to people. It will shock them at first and they'll probably think you want something.
But they'll happily get used to it. If you can't be nice, then play nice.
Once you get some practice under your belt, it's child's play.