I bumped into a close girlfriend who’s been a great support system through my recent drama. She was with her husband, a nice guy I haven’t seen for a few months. We all chatted a bit before moving on to more interesting pursuits like beer and macaroni.
When I visited with my girlfriend the next day, she mentioned something her husband said after I left.
“I hardly recognized Tawna, she looked so ridiculously happy.”
The comment made me smile. It still makes me smile, because I know it was well-intentioned and because, in my opinion, being told I look happy is a much higher compliment than being told I have nice shoes or a great ass.
OK, maybe not the ass thing.
While I was basking in the glow of the compliment, I had to admit there was a flip-side to it. It was unintentional, to be sure, but was he suggesting that in recent months, I’ve looked like a depressed hag?
Hey, it’s possible that’s true. It’s also likely that’s not what he really meant, but isn’t that how backhanded compliments sometimes work?
One of the weirdest compliments I ever got was from the professional advisor at my college newspaper. I was working as the features editor and had known the advisor for several months when she addressed me in a staff meeting.
“You know, I didn’t think I was going to like you when we met,” she told me. “I thought you were too pretty.”
I suppose it’s a flattering thing for her to have said, though perhaps not a flattering reflection on her character. Is it really all that different than saying, “I thought I wouldn’t like you because you’re ugly?”
My most recent compliment-that-wasn’t-a-compliment was yesterday at the grocery store. I was buying a bottle of wine when the cashier asked for my ID. Grinning, I pulled it out of my wallet.
“Thanks so much!” I said, feeling young and spunky instead of 36 and entirely too eager to devour the wine while sitting at home alone in my pajamas. “No one ever cards me anymore.”
She shrugged. “I card everyone. Even if they look 60.”
Hey, at least the wine was good.
What’s the weirdest compliment you’ve ever received? Have you ever tried to give one and realized later that it might have a backhanded implication you didn’t intend? Please share!
Oh, and if you’d like to share the love, I encourage you to compliment one of your fellow commenters here. Let's start with lucky commenter #1, shall we?
Nice shoes. Great ass. You look ridiculously happy!