Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Recently there was an article on compliments, how hard it is for some to receive them and back-handed compliments such as:
That dress looks better on you each year.
You dress well...for a fat man.
Compliments were thrown my way so rarely as a child I remembered every one. True there were some positive comments thrown my way about how bright or what a good artist I was. I remember being with my childhood friend and her doting grandmother. Grandma was going on and on about how precious my friend was detailing her prettiness and finally turned to me to see if I agreed with her assessments.
Yeah, she's just the prettiest sweet-ums ever!
Maybe she heard the sarcasm in my voice (I had a hard time hiding that)or maybe she realized that in spite of my appearance, I was just a little girl wanting to hear some kind words too. She struggled mightily for something positive to say. Finally:
You really have nice hands.
Gee... thanks.
At the time they were probably covered with scratches due to my crabby kitty who took out her frustrations by regularly raking her claws through my skin. But I added it to my short list along with someone saying I had nice teeth (though when I had reported that, I was immediately told: No-they are way too big!) and clear eyes (huh?).

My list got much bigger in high school by blinded-by-hormones boys as in: Oh my God! Your body looks like a Playboy centerfold!
It really didn't but again those hormones really can alter reality.

But my favorite back-handed compliment: You look pretty for a chemist.
This was told to me by a posse of fellow chem students. Not only was I 'pretty' but I was the best looking chemistry major. We had to take the same classes at the same time given the length and amount of labs. We'd have these 5 hour long analytical chem tests at night-lots of calculations and no use of calculators were allowed ( I bought one for $150 considering it a good deal with as many functions as a $2 drugstore one has today). Our physical chem professor had scheduled his test the next morning. He needed to be persuaded to change the date and according to this group of young men, I was the best candidate to effect this. The professor seemed old and crabby. My father had actually had him and told me to avoid him at all costs. I pointed out that the professor would just tell us to study before the analytical test. Right! I said I would do it but I wasn't going in by myself and selected one of them to come with me. The professor immediately zeroed in on me ignoring my companion. I had said something about chem majors making up most of his class and how difficult this would be on us. He countered that there were more chem engineering students and why don't we study ahead of time. I tried to be charming as possible smiling inanely. In the end, he did change the test. About a week later, he popped in during one of my many labs (our schedules were very predictable) and offered to take me for coffee and later, offered me a job running his lab. He ended up being a very important person in my life.

So on my busy schedule, more running and then to the OB's with Ms. Naomi. My friend is throwing her a shower and Naomi's 'wish list' as expected, is full of magical thinking. I will try to introduce some common sense to her. Unfortunately my 'inane' smiles don't work much magic on her.

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