Complimentary Medicine

I read in a book that words of affirmation are a way of showing love. So now I walk around all day aggressively shouting, “OK, SURE, RIGHT!”

People don’t seem to find it all that affectionate.

I think “words of affirmation” are what used to be called compliments. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with compliments. It reminds me of a cheer my old high school cheerleading squad used to do:


In the dating world, boys will often attempt to impress girls using either compliments or flattery. Compliments and flattery are similar, as they involve employing the exact same words to convey the exact same praise — only with flattery, the person who said the words didn’t actually mean them, which turns out to be problematic.

In short, compliments are good, flattery is bad, and good luck, girls (or boys), in telling them apart.

I remember when I first tried using a carefully prepared compliment as part of the dating ritual. It was homecoming dance my senior year in high school.

Me (standing at door while beautiful girl in elegant gown comes into view): I… wow. I totally forgot what I had prepared to say.

Her: Now, that’s a compliment.

Sometimes, incompetence works in your favor.

I briefly dated a professional actress while I was in college. She liked compliments, particularly (in defiance of stereotype) giving them. This was an interesting type of role reversal, as I was the one trying to figure out if she really liked me or was just feeding me lines…

… then I suddenly remembered I was shallow and was fine with it either way.

I did eventually get over being shallow. Mostly.

Compliments are often things people wish they’d heard from one or more of their parents. My parents were from the generation that didn’t believe in using compliments. They believed in stockpiling them, you know, in case of nuclear war. There’s a whole collection of unspoken, unused compliments in a cellar somewhere in Florida, I’m pretty sure.

I’m always interested in what people choose to compliment others on. Like, I’ll see kids playing, and four people will tell one of the little girls how pretty she is, and I’ll be thinking, “have you seen how fast her reflexes are? She should be in MMA…”

And so I’ll say so.

Much to her parents horror.

I complimented my nephew recently on how good he was at making everyone feel welcome, right after about fifteen people had complimented him on losing weight. His wife complimented me on what a good job I did making sure kids didn’t get too close to the pool.

Now, THAT’s my kind of compliment. I am basically a sheepdog.

Me, keeping toddlers from falling in a pool.

Compliments are fine when used in moderation, but if you experience dizziness or lack of vision after receiving one, see a doctor immediately.  As you can see above, I frequently have lack of vision, but that’s because of the hair in my eyes.

Oh, and by the way, you are by far my favorite reader. And I’m not just saying that.





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14 Thoughts to “Complimentary Medicine

  1. I was about to phone the grammar police until I properly read your absolutely amazing, perfectly logical, complementary account on compliments. Well done!

  2. This is easily the funniest thing that you’ve ever written and that, I dare say, is a compliment.
    And flattery is sometimes used as a shield.

  3. Awww, now everyone is complimenting each other’s compliments! It’s so sweet 🖤 Way to spread the love

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