Weekend Question Thread

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever gotten?

Mr. A has doled out some doozies over the years but I think my favorite came from a very elderly male friend some years ago. We were at a formal dinner, everybody was all dolled up, and he leaned over and said, “You have beautiful ankles.” Which I think was the “Can I get some fries with that shake?” of his generation.


23 thoughts on “Weekend Question Thread

  1. Actually, this sounds more like “compliments” which are really not compliments. (Sorry to take this in a different direction.) You know, the old “Gee, you don’t sweat much for a fat person!” or, when pressed to voice something positive about someone else, saying “Nice shoes.”
    Two in particular come to mind. They are usually in response to a performer who wanted some feedback on their (dreadful) performance.
    One was “I’ll be talking about this for years to come!”
    The other was “I don’t think you could have been any better!”

  2. After I wrote what I thought was a fair, but fairly hard-hitting story about a politician I disliked on a personal basis, he told me (at the grocery store; a situation David Gregory and his ilk don’t have to deal with) he disagreed with running the story but said that I had been fair. Trying to be fair is one thing; being perceived as fair by those you’re critically covering is a whole ‘nother thing. It’s still a highlight of my years in journalism.

  3. i don’t pay much attention to compliments. tho i paid attention to keith’s. always a bit surprised in class at art school when somebody would compliment my stuff in class. so, i’d say the best was a teacher i liked and love his art, liked a big painting i was working on.
    or maybe my painting teacher who thought i’d be offended if he called my painting decorative.

  4. Posted by: RAM
    I remember asking a journalist what was a good compliment from a PR person. He said, “Wow, what a great story!” was not it because he felt that it meant that it was a puff piece.

  5. Mine was from res ipsa loquitur after I spoke at the second Eschaton Conference. I got a standing ovation after I spoke, which was one of the highlights of my life, and afterwards she came up to me about what we could do to get Bill Kristol out of the New York Times. I described a strategy involving focusing on his factual errors and financial conflicts of interest with a focus on the HR polices of the paper. She said “When I met you in SF you seemed like just another blogger, I knew you were a hard worker but man, you are a warrior.”
    Someone who saw the warrior nature of what I do pleased me immensely.

  6. One of my students sent me an e-mail about a month after the end of the class. He said he’d waited that long so I didn’t think he was brownnosing for a grade or something. He said he was planning on becoming a history teacher, and went on to say something about hoping he was half as good as I was. My god, I floated ten feet off the ground for a month.
    That e-mail is in my “Feelgood E-mails” saved folder. When I’m feeling down, I go and read ’em.

  7. I’ve been complimented on a number of things and have been taught to deflect those so that my head wouldn’t swell up. Not good to be too selfish, ya know. No wonder I’m blogging…
    What kick-started me on the blogging path, however, was in part the comments I made on the listserv of the synagogue in Queens we attended shortly before we moved back to New Orleans. A transit strike had nearly paralyzed NYC for a few days, and the nature of the stuff being posted on the listserv was not favorable towards the strikers. All I did was to say, essentially,”Hey, I’m annoyed by the inconvenience of this as well, but, fact of the matter is, our ideas of what constitutes good working conditions have changed and the MTA’s ideas about that have not. And this isn’t only happening amongst public transit workers, it’s all about the kinds of things Barbara Ehrenreich wrote about in ‘Nickled And Dimed’.” It went on a little about how costs of living have gone up when wages haven’t, the loopholes employers can and do exploit to get out of paying benefits to employees, etc., etc.
    I got an email off the listserv from a prominent synagogue member and now good friend complimenting me on going against the grain with the thread and presenting my arguments so well. I was asked why I didn’t write more.
    I carried the flush of that with me when I sat down and wrote my first blog post not too long afterwards.

  8. I’ve been lucky enough to get compliments here and there over a life that’s now reached middle age; one that stands out for me was from Tony Kushner (Angels in America playwright) who told me I was, at the time, very good for an untrained actor. I figured he knew what he was talking about.

  9. Spocko:
    I always got a sort of queasy feeling down in the pit of my stomach when a PR type called to compliment something we’d put in the paper. Not that PR types are bad people. All the time.

  10. I wrote a letter of condolence to a woman I know on the death of her baby, from a slow, agonizing, genetic syndrome. She told me that she and her husband kept it and read it frequently. That kind of blows me away.

  11. When I was just a beginning intern pastor, I received a letter from a visitor to the church who had been there for what was only my second sermon ever. He said that he had never seen anyone as inexperienced at the task as I was convey the complex message of the Gospel with such grace, humor, and poise. He added that I had a true gift and he saw a wonderful future for me as a pastor.
    Did I keep that letter? You better believe it. Somedays I think he must have a been a well meaning but deeply deluded individual, but those words never cease to lift my spirits and give me confidence.

  12. aimai
    Several of the people over at the Crack Den wrote wonderful things to me after the death of my father.
    One, by David Derbes, I printed out and forwarded to my family. It still keeps me going. That is the power of a great compliment.

  13. RAM
    I know (and knew that) because of my journalist friends.
    If they were a really smart PR person they would also tell you that they had to convince the client that a fair story is actually better for the company.

  14. When I was a criminal defense lawyer one of my clients told me that I was a “smooth muthafucka.” I would have preferred that he paid his bill…

  15. One time at the Society for Creative Anachronism’s big yearly event, I made a pot of curry that turned out to be too big to feed everyone in our camp who wanted some, so I was sharing it around to lots of people, and a guy I didn’t even know took some, ate a few bites, and then asked if I was single, and if he could marry me for my cooking. I still feel good about that, somehow.
    Also, since I’m a foreigner, what thehell does “Can I get some fries with that shake” mean in an interpersonal context? *baffled*

  16. Ooooooh… One New Year’s Eve, an old friend and I were dancing the night away ans he asked me if I made love as well as I danced. Oh, my, such a case of the VAPORS he gave me!

  17. Late to the party, as usual, but this was something I will always remember with no little pride.
    After Hurricane Floyd flooded the entire eastern part of NC, I took a week off to volunteer. I spent 6 days gutting flood damaged houses. It was hard, dirty, heartbreaking and somewhat dangerous work (snakes in the floorboards)and I worked shoulder-to-shoulder with an older local carpenter. Jim was smart, often improvising remarkable solutions to the problems of creative destruction.
    On my last day, I told him I’d enjoyed his company, even though he’d not said more than a dozen non-work related words to me all week.
    He shook my hand, gave me a quick nod of his head and said, “Yer a worker.”

  18. David wins.
    Two times my writing has gotten me compliments.
    Once, an entry in a poetry /essay contest. I turned it in before school and scarpered. In third period two of the bigger kids in school wanted to know what I had done to make our beloved Sophomore English teacher cry. I spent the day in terror, because I had her for my last class of the day.
    The damned thing won the contest and I had to read it out loud in front of the entire town at the Bicentennial…
    After my father’s funeral, I wrote some thank-you notes to some of the people who had attended, in particular those he had thought well of among the folks with whom he did business. One wrote me back to say my note had moved her to tears, and was now in a frame on her office wall.
    I cried for days about that.

  19. Two months ago, I was at a work related event where a creepy older man pulled me aside and told me I was the most beautiful woman he’d seen in 10 years.
    I was too surprised to say anything, but I wanted to ask who he’d seen 10 years ago. And remark that he really needs to get out more.
    Then, last week, another blogger told me he thought I was such a success story. “I mean, he said, you’ve gone from being just a dancer to a decent reporter.” Again, I stood there in horror and silence.
    The moral of this story is that I need to work harder on the comebacks.

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