Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Complicated compliments

When I was in my pre-teen to my early twenties, I would sometimes give compliments that were phrased weirdly and were taken as insults; and I had no idea how to explain myself out of the hole that I had somehow gotten myself in.  Sometimes all I would have to do was gush about how I loved the colour of something, and would say something like "I love scarlet," when the colour I was talking about was really cherry (or some other colour that was one or two shades lighter or darker than scarlet) and someone within earshot would light into me, telling me how stupid I was for thinking that colour was scarlet when it was really this other colour.....and this person would leave, thinking that I was an idiot for not knowing the difference between cherry and scarlet.
What I just described has never actually happened.  But there have been many times when things that I have said were taken, not just out of context, but to another planet.  Now, after getting myself into a few painful social situations that have left some scars, I did eventually learn how to Watch. My. Words.  This does mean that I don't give nearly as many compliments as I used to, and I definitely don't gush the way I used to, at least not as often.  And when I do give compliments, it's always "Nice dress/coat/tie/whatever."  Which is to the benefit of the person I'm complimenting.  And when I was a teenager, I gushed too much anyways.