We can’t simply say, “Thank you,” it’s not in our DNA. We justify compliments by making excuses. We diffuse them by giving others the credit. And we deflect them by batting ‘em back in the other person’s court with the obligatory, return of same compliment — Here, now you deal with how to respond, bitch.
It goes something like this:
“I love your outfit.”
“Thanks, I LOOOVE yours too,” (said before even looking to find she’s wearing ripped sweats, and a tee shirt that crassly says, ‘Check out my Box’ with a picture of a boom box on the front.
“You threw an incredible party.”
“Oh, I had a ton of help, Mark Bittman, has the best recipes and my hubby did a great job on the grill… and the people at Party City really know how to fill a balloon… and the guy at the supermarket double bagged all the sodas so, I didn’t have to worry about them falling out and over-fizzing later… and… and… and…”
“You look so thin.”
“Oh please, it’s just these jeans I’m wearing. I live in them because they hide all the rolls I’ve under them. Luckily, they were on a sale or I never would have bought them.” (G-d forbid we told someone we paid retail.)
So, so sad, ladies. I mean, could you imagine if guys did that?…
“Hey dude, great outfit.”
“Thanks. It’s funny, I was just thinking the same thing about yours. I didn’t even know people were still wearing overalls and yet you make them look so on trend.”
“This was a killer party, man.”
“Well, I had a ton of help… My wife marinated the chicken in that bottle of Bullseye sauce we had lying around. Thanks to not cleaning the grill in like, a year, there was that unique cooked-in flavor. And it wouldn’t have been as good without the fine people at Samuel Adams making their Pale Ale that just screams ‘end of summer cook out.’”
“You’re lookin’ thin these days.”
“Really? It’s just these Dockers I’ve been wearing to work with adjustable side bands. They allow me to wear a smaller size and open up the waist for some extra girth around the middle, plus the pleated front never hurts. Plus I got them at Target… on sale.”
I know, it makes us sound insane. Especially considering the person giving the compliment would like to hear, a “Thank You,” rather than get a dissertation on why they shouldn’t have complimented you, in the first place.
I’m sorry for calling you insane, before, that was thoughtless. What I meant to say is, you look fantastic… hey, are those new shoes? Love them, but everything looks good on you! Well, you know that.