Friday, May 1, 2009

For a Fat Kid, You Don't Sweat Much

I read a blog post about "tepid praise" the other day, and it got me thinking. What's the best backhanded or lukewarm compliment you've ever gotten? Or even better--has someone ever said something that you just didn't know how to take? This kind of stuff fascinates me.

I saw a little article the other day about the octuplet mom, Nadya Suleman. I'm not gonna knock her, I think that she's got enough to deal with. But this particular comment about her just struck me as so funny (funny-odd). The article was talking about rumors that she was an exotic dancer at one point in her past. (I know--why was I reading this? I have no idea. But at least I'm owning up to it, right?) Anyway, a club owner who claims to have hired her said that she was a "plain Jane stripper". Have you ever heard that in your life? Like it's an insult, but a veiled one. Like there's a quality seal or something for exotic dancers, and to this guy, she just didn't quite cut it.

I think if my life choices had led me down that road, I'd be described in the same way! In fact, though I personally love the name Jane, calling someone a "plain Jane" anything is a bit meanish, I think. Dismissive without being outright rude. Dontcha think?

People have told us before that we're "not like most Americans". At first, I didn't know how to take that. On one hand, I knew what they meant--that we didn't fit the stereotype of the obnoxious American abroad. Overbearing, loud, etc. On the other hand, I was like, "So we're the only Americans you like? Those are my peeps!"

Another time, I posted something on my Facebook status like, "Amy has stayed up way too late watching random You Tube clips." And I got a comment from a guy we know (who's several years younger) saying, "Wow--it's good to know that doing stuff like that doesn't go away as we age." Hello! I am thirty, flirty, and thriving, thankyouverymuch! (Well--32, but still!)

My beloved husband who adores me told me a couple weeks ago, "Wow, you've got a pretty fast walk--for a pregnant woman." Which only made me walk faster, of course! I nearly sent myself into preterm labor trying to outstrip him. (Hmmm...considering one of my earlier references, maybe that is a poor word choice. But you know what I mean.)

Or has anyone ever told you they admire how you don't care what people think about you? And did you wonder if that is a nice way of saying, "you sure look like an idiot but you don't seem to mind"? No? Just me? Okay.

Either way--go on, share some of the best tepid or ambiguous compliments you've heard/received! I wanna know. And can I just say, that I'm sure you are a really nice person for someone I've never met and only know through the Internets.


  1. Years ago while teaching third grade, a little girl hugged me around the middle and said, " Mrs. O.,I like hugging you 'cause you're spongy." Thanks, I think. BTW, do Aussies see Americans as loud and obnoxious? Yeah, sure, some of us are.I guess...

  2. Hey sweet friend!
    Great post!!
    Let's see...I've been called "Plain Jane" for a good majority of my life. I've decided that it fits me pretty does make my heart melt a little bit though thinking of the song a boy wrote for me when I was a teenager called "There's nothin plain about Jane". :)
    Sometimes I get a little bit tired of people saying.."You look great...for having six kids."
    And this one can really get me riled up.."Oh Look! Another Rowland Rabbit!" (aaarrrrggghhh!)
    Love you my friend. Can we catch up soon??!! I need to hear your voice!

  3. Ooh, great post. I agree, the idea of someone calling the Octomom a "plain Jane stripper" is somehow hilarious. Like, if she had been a super hot stripper, it might have raised her in the public esteem?

    The first thing that comes to mind is that a guy Matt worked with in CA, and whom I later came to detest, told me that I wasn't as irrational as most women. So he insulted me and our entire sex. This was par for the course for that guy, and I signed his email address up for a BUNCH of freebie flyers and spam email services. True story.

  4. It was the mid-60s, at a junior high school party. I'd had a crush on Dawn for months, but she was out of my league. Across the room I saw that there was an empty seat beside her on the couch and I made my play. As I sat down she said, "Oh, Wayne, I'm glad it's you. You're not like the other boys. I feel safe with you." I had wanted almost any response except that.

  5. Okay, you're sister is just as witty as you! Hilarious that she signed his email address for freebies. That just made my day. Oh so funny.

    I've been insulted in a backhanded sort of way plenty of times, but I can't bring one specific one to mind?!

  6. Recently I was told by a person that I really enjoy, but is a relatively new friend, "you're lots of fun... when i first met you I thought you were a snob." This person met me over a year ago and made this comment about a month ago... AWKWARD! I just never know what to say in situations like that.
    Oh and btw, do you mind removing my alter ego profile from your following... I set it up at work one night at approx 3am and I'm not sure how i did it, or how to sign into it, or delete it... but somehow i managed to upload my picture on it! Great. Anyway, I'll let you try to figure out which one is the fake one. hint: screen name :)
    love you Amy! you keep me laughing as always.

  7. A few years ago, I told a work colleague I was married, and she said: "Really? You don't look it!"

    I wasn't sure: Did I not look happy and in love enough? Or did I just not look married enough? *insert negative marriage stereotype here*

  8. Hee hee! These are all so great--thanks for sharing!!

    And to my friend Jane, since I'm reasonably sure that you could still wear jeans you wore in high school, I'd say you look pretty stinkin' awesome, regardless of how many kids you've had. In fact, that makes me a little bitter towards you. ;)

    Beck--the spam idea is hilarious! Love it.

    Sarah--I tried to delete it, but can't figure out how yet. Will keep trying!

    And Mai, yeah I've been meaning to tell you that you just don't look in love enough. Could you work on that? ;) xoxo

  9. I've had this one much more than once, unfortunately, (and usually from women which makes it sting even more)...

    "I've known some other women pastors but your the first one I've liked!"

    ick. How does one respond graciously to that? Perhpas I could say..."I've known lots of congregation members, some more rude than you."

    But that would be a tad unchristian, yes?

  10. LOL, AEL!

    I just sang a duet with my hubby in church, and I always get super nervous, and the congregation can probably tell. So after the service my sister-in-law asks me if I was stressed out that morning. Nothing else. Hmmm, maybe she just doesn't like my singing. Sometimes it's better to just say nothing at all!

  11. Amy, THAT is too funny! (funny in an annoying way) And I think your response is perfect, but you're too gracious to use it. I may not be, though. :)

    Ginny Marie, I totally know what you mean. You're like, "uh...thanks?"