It dawned on me today, somewhere between the second and third time I got checked out as I went about my day-to-day life here in Dubai (apparently I’m quite yummy to Arab men), that I really have no clue what all the fuss is about. Thankfully, I’m fine with it. I’ve never been able to handle compliments very well. In fact, most times I just see the compliment, and this might be rather asinine of me, as a sympathetic way to make me feel better about myself. Yeah I know, I’m weird.
First off. I would never describe myself as ugly. Do I think of myself as a scrawny little twerp? Yes I do. I’m slightly taller than an Ewok and shorter than Chewbacca, but I’m every bit as furry as the famed creations of George Lucas (sans back hair though). There is no way a guy with as much eyebrow as I have should get the attention I do. Seriously, when I was younger I auditioned for the part of Bert in a live-action Sesame Street movie (it was never made – the kid who was picked to play Ernie had a bad habit of farting in the bathtub and no one but me does that when I’m in the bath [you all know Bert and Ernie shared baths together]).
Despite the horizontal stripe on my forehead, I was still enough of a sexy bitch to pull off vertical stripes.
Secondly, my two sisters are stunning, absolutely beautiful girls. When I look back at the family photos I look out of place. Now, I know I’m not. I also know I’m way cooler than they’ll ever be so I’m content with my lot in life thank you very much.
I just don’t know how to take a compliment because I have spent much of my life focusing on my perceived flaws and disadvantages that most times I hear something positive about me I find it hard to believe that someone can see it in me. Now mom, I know you’re back home readying an email to tell me how wonderful I am – I know I am, I’m just saying. Save the email. It’s all good. I don’t hate myself or anything like that. Deep down I know I’m a sexy bitch. I’m the only one allowed to think it though. Well, not the only one. For years my popularity has been high among gay men, married women, and teenage girls. Seriously, that formed the Holy trifecta of admirers this sultry hunk of man flesh would attract. It was bad enough when they ogled me from afar; but should one dare approach and compliment me, well, I usually tried to pretend I was a turtle and duck my head for safety.
The truth is, and it’s a painful truth when no one man can “rock” so many different self-appointed flaws; I am pigeon-toed, bow-legged, have a stutter, a goofy smile, scrawny arms, bigger than normal ears (complete with hair), have crooked pinkies, and, at times, the beginning of a monobrow. Yes, it is tough to make People Magazines’s most beautiful people in the world list when you can’t seem to find the words to compliment yourself.
But hey, that’s okay, I’d probably shun a compliment I gave myself. Why I can’t accept a compliment at face value, I will never know. I can pretend the reason is as stated above; but I know it isn’t the truth. Well, not the complete truth. This has been going on for years as well.
I can remember the mom of one of my first best friends, Dale, approach me one day when I was in my late teens. Dale and I had played soccer together, the last time when I was 12 years old. I quit playing at 15 although I’m not sure why. I hadn’t seen Dale in years, his mom in even more. She asked me how the family was, the usual questions, and then asked if I was still playing soccer. When I replied “no”, the look on her face told me she was heartbroken. She shook her head and told me, “it’s such a shame because it’s a grave waste of talent and passion.” She hadn’t seen me play since I was 12! I blushed, thanked her, and ran off.
Here I was, this cocky, arrogant, punk of 19, and my friend’s mom had rendered me to the status of an 11 year old girl being told her dress is pretty while getting an autograph from one of the New Kids on the Block. That shit isn’t supposed to happen. Self-stated miscreants aren’t supposed to blush when their friend’s mom gives them a compliment. They’re not even supposed to talk to their friend’s mom – unless she’s a MILF. Back when I was 19, I don’t think we even knew the term MILF.
Lately though, the compliments I get usually revolve around my writing. Okay, I’m still a sexy bitch and some people do notice, but for the most part, my words do the talking for me. I believe I can write. I love to write. But I can be better. And while every word of praise is appreciated and received with open arms, and I’ll probably tell you I deserve it, you’ll probably find me way back in the corner of a dark room trying to figure out if I actually deserve the praise and how I should respond to it. I just don’t know how to respond. Thank you seems so clichéd and unwelcome. It’s curt, and at times, has a tinge of insincerity when you look at. When I say it, I don’t mean it to be insincere. I only wonder if it is taken as insincere.
It took me years to develop a response to a question I had heard many times before when asked about soccer. I thought it was the perfect response. I suppose I could tweak the response when I’m asked about my writing – but writing is so damn subjective it would be hard to do. I haven’t been asked this question for a while, but I used to get, “I hear you’re a good soccer player, are you?” My response, formulated after years of thinking and finding out that I can be humble and still a sexy bitch, was a simple, “probably better than I think I am but not as good as I hoped I’d be.”
As I said, I could probably tweak this for writing but for now, all you will get, should you choose to compliment me on anything I write, will be a “thank you.” It will be heartfelt, I will be blushing, and I will be pissed at myself for not having the creativity to think of anything more inspiring to say to your kind words.
Is it just me, or do you struggle with compliments too?