My son had gone back to school after being sick for over a week, and I’d had enough of sweatpants. The weather cooperated, it was a glorious day with highs in the 70’s and low humidity. Spring at it’s finest! I had purchased a sundress late this winter for just such an occasion, and eagerly slid it over my head and half-buttoned a cardigan over it to stave off the cool morning.
I was just running errands. My dress might not have been ideal for my stop at the local feed store to get chicken bedding, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me. When I put it on, styled my pixie cut hair, and dusted some blush on my cheeks and mascara on my lashes, I felt like a million bucks, though my dress was just a simple cotton number.
There were prescriptions awaiting me at our local pharmacy, which was my last stop. The man already waiting in the prescription line, and as I queued up behind him, this stranger turned around. I felt his eyes crawl over me as he asked, “Has anyone told you lately how beautiful you are?”
My body temperature rose a few degrees as I felt the flush rush to my face. Unsure what to say, I assured him that my husband had indeed told me how beautiful I was that very morning.
My shoulders slumped and I didn’t know where to look. My tone had been as cold as my face was hot, and the silence that followed drew out for several seconds before the man declared it good that my husband had complimented me and turned back toward the pharmacy counter. Each second drew out to impossible lengths those few minutes until that man was called up to the counter. He smiled at me as he left, I avoided eye contact.
I probably sound like a jerk. I mean, who doesn’t like a compliment?
Well, me, that’s who.
I’m a feisty woman. Earlier, while getting my chicken bedding and a 40-pound bag of dog food, a store employee told me to have the cashier page him so he could load my things into my car. I didn’t. I nearly always get an offer for help when running errands for our little farm, and I never take it. Someday I will probably have to, but I am equal parts strong and capable with a pretty hefty dash of independent thrown in for good measure. You might say that makes me a feminist, but to me, it’s just being self-sufficient.
And my body…
no matter how I dress it, coif it and make it up. I shouldn’t and don’t have to, but I will add that I am a married fortysomething woman who was wearing a knee-length dress with a cardigan at a small town pharmacy, for Pete’s sake. While I realize that a person cannot stop himself from seeing me, by no means does my appearance in public, whether good, bad or otherwise, mean I am looking for another person’s opinion about it.
I had half a mind to return the serve with my opinion of his appearance, which would not have been a compliment, or perhaps to spout off a condensed version of this essay about the subject, but I realized that the pharmacy line is not the place for that type of discussion. Nor is it the place to compliment a stranger, but that cat is already out of the bag.
This man’s motive remains a mystery to me. It’s entirely possible that he was just trying to brighten my day. It’s also possible, and in my opinion more likely, that he is a creep.
Regardless, a compliment is a precious commodity, best when given with sincerity. I prefer a single genuine compliment than a flurry of them given at random or as flattery. If you’re just a friendly fella and want to strike up a conversation, I prefer discussing the weather, rather than your opinion of my appearance.
Alethea is a runner, a gardener, a special needs mom, and a writer. She has been happily married for time immemorial, and thinks way too much. If you want to read more from her, give her a gander at https://benswritingrunningmom.me