Sunday, November 01, 2009

Lost Art of the Compliment Part I

In this fascinating article MSN writer, Tom Chiarella flushes out the difference between a true compliment and a "salesman's trick."

This is something that interests and haunts me. The compliment. In 2001, I had had a rough year. Wendell had lost his job, then lost his next job and the next. He was selling cars, a desperate move designed to tide us over until he got a "real" job. Our relationship was a wreck. There was yelling and hurt feelings once I even threw something at him.

We were in marriage therapy and I was deeply depressed. That year, everything that could go wrong had. After I had Anson, Mom took me shopping and bought me a few clothes to fit my new bulgy figure. She talked me into buying a shirt that was black with large flowers on it. She gave me a "shell" to wear beneath in it and raved about how great I looked in it.

Every time I saw it, I thought of my grandma. Although I love my grandma dearly, I didn't want to copy style ideas from someone more that 50 years my senior. But Wendell loved the shirt, too. He raved about it and pretended that I was sexy when I wore it.

My weight climbed 13 lbs after Anson was born, so that by the time he turned one, I had ballooned to my all time highest weight.

My memory is a bit fuzzy on the details, but it was around then that I was invited to a baby shower of a woman I really cared about. And she had everything that I didn't. After several years of marriage and work, she was expecting her first baby, while I already had two. She had a beautiful roomy house with a view, money in the bank, and a tiny figure. Even pregnant, she was gorgeous.

I nervously stood on her front porch wearing my grandma style black shirt. I had a reused gift bag with a cheap outfit that had cost only $5 and I'd still had to use my credit card to get it. We were so far in the hole at that point, what difference did $5 make?

When my friend opened the door, she greeted me heartily, inviting me into her beautiful home. With the slightest look of disgust crossing her face so briefly that I was surely the only one who saw it, she looked me up and down and declared, "You look great!"


Laurie said...

AND....????????????? Then what?

Sandy White said...

I'm waiting for Part II!

Jenna Wood said...

OK, I need an invite to both of your blogs. Email me at

dh said...

My one and only compliment regarding appearances: 'that color looks great on you'.

I have been known, tho, to say, you look worried/tired/in pain- are you ok? Is that bad? :)

We need to meet...

dh said...

ooops. I just realized I dish another 'compliment'... 'you don't look that pregnant' and also 'you make pregnancy look cute'.

There are certain women who have a look in their eye that they are self-conscious at their size/shape and I like to think that my words help ease the uncertainty during such a miraculous time.