I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

I got one of those compliments yesterday that at first makes you feel great at first, then you do a double take and think, what? Did you mean to insinuate I am a fat cow? Because you just did. Sometimes people say things that inadvertently turn into an insult. I’ve had a couple friends come visit me in LA and ask how I can stand to be around so many thin, beautiful women all the time. I usually leave the, “Gosh, thanks, didn’t realize I was huge gorgon,” out of my response, and just say, honestly, that I really don’t notice it anymore. I like pretty things, so being surrounded by pretty people is a plus as far as I’m concerned. It’s like being at the zoo. You enjoy looking at the flamingos, but you don’t beat yourself up about not being pink with legs that bend backwards.

Sometimes these confused compliments can be endearing. One of my favorite compliments ever falls into this category, and I pull it out of the mental index card file often. I was at a party and hanging out with a couple of my guy friends. I have no idea what we were talking about, but somehow, Patrick and Big John stumbled through a compliment that if I were dancing at one of those strip clubs in the valley I would be the queen of the place. They got embarrassed while saying it, I’m not sure if it was that they were telling me I would make a hot stripper that did it or if they realized part way through that they were saying I’d be a hot stripper in a less that top club. But even their embarrassment added to the honesty of the compliment and made it mean more. On a bad day, I just have to think, “I’d be their queen!” and I cheer up a little.

The worst compliment I ever got was when I was a kid, maybe about 12. I was an awkward kid, skinny, with weird taste in clothes. One of my dad’s colleagues said to me, “You’ll be a really pretty girl one day.” I can still feel the sting. She was right, when everything feel into place I did turn out well, but at the time, she might as well have said, “Good thing you’re smart, because you sure are funny looking.”

My favorite compliment ever was very clear, no chance of misunderstanding. But not something you share with your parents. Back when I was seeing Jack, we went out one night and I met his friend Bud for the first time. When we were driving back to my place, Jack told me that when I had gone to the bathroom, Bud had turned to him and said, “You get to sleep with her?” That, my friends, is an all around compliment. Bud was the one who would later be willing to have sex with me and Jack, even though he wasn’t speaking to me at the time. I did hook up with Bud once, one of those things that starts and you let it go on because you’re good friends with the person and wonder if there could be something more. In this case, all there was was a trapped feeling and a wish to escape while I tried to distract myself by remembering what I needed from the grocery store. Even though things went badly sideways with Bud, thinking of his saying, “You get to sleep with her?” makes me stand a little straighter, puts a swing in my step.

So I was g-chatting with Dan yesterday, all PG this time, and he told me he thought I was keen. I told him to please go on, because when it comes to compliments I am like a dog, I will wag my tail and slobber all over you for the attention. He continued in the theme of how keen I am, then added that I “e-fuck like a hottie!” Now, I know what he meant, and I was stoked for a second, because unless you’re Jessica Simpson, being told you’re hot in bed is a huge ego boost. But then I thought, “like a hottie”? “‘like’ a hottie”? What am I, chopped liver? I am totally a hottie! I changed my FB photo because my gay friend said it wasn’t a good representation of how sexy I am. My friend says I have an ass that won’t quit. Totally a hottie! I had to laugh, because sometimes guys just miss the mark with compliments. And that can make them better. Some smooth operator who always says the right thing doesn’t have the same effect as someone trying to convey why you’re different from the rest of the girls. Even if he swings and misses, the effort means something more than someone just rattling off a line.

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May 23, 2010. Tags: , . Life, the universe, and whatnot.

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