Just Take the Compliment

by Crystal Torres on April 25, 2017

I was unexpectedly rattled by a post made by a friend of friends yesterday. I think I might have met the guy that one time, or maybe that was a different guy. It wasn’t who said the thing that made it rattling. There was a specific venom in his status update: “I have been hit up by way too many old, fat, or just plain ugly girls. If your overweight, or over the hill, i don’t want you.” So, um, yeah, that’s fine, because he’s definitely not what I’m looking for either.

How very convenient, that without even having to meet, we seem to feel exactly the same way about each other. That right there is rare and precious, in a world filled with people who want different things from each other, who like each other in different ways. How refreshing that we should both feel this mix of disgust and disinterest as we remain irrelevant in each other’s lives.

It almost didn’t bother me but, assuming that there are women who have been hitting him up, this is so hurtful to them. Rejection terrifies me, any man, or woman, who puts themselves out there deserves some kind of medal for bravery, especially, if they don’t look like a magazine cover. Another human being stepped through the muck and fear and all their own baggage, long enough to see this schmuck, to take notice of him, to indicate an interest in him. That right there is a gift. Take the compliment, dude. Ideally, take it with something approaching grace.

It’s an unfortunate lesson taught to girls that aren’t pretty enough. Too many men only value women as decoration, as points to score. A woman without beauty is treated as a blight. I learned early on how to fold in on myself, become invisible. I know how boys talk. The girls that they would do, if they put a bag over her face. The way they tease the guy who likes a girl who isn’t deemed pretty enough. It’s okay to like them a little thick, if that’s your thing, but not too thick, that’s gross. Nobody wants to be the guy who likes the girl his friends think is gross. 

I’ve listened as girls are sorted, the rare ten earning praise all around, the girls who are pretty enough to be stamped, “fuckable,” even if they aren’t good enough for showing off, or keeping. I also know that the girls who aren’t stamped, “fuckable,” can still get laid, if they don’t mind being a dirty little secret. It’s like every one of these girls has a point value, and bagging one worth a lot of points will raise the dude’s overall score, but get caught with the wrong girl and your own score will fall. For the guys who play that game, it’s better to be cruel than risk losing points.

My teens were not easy. I wasn’t beautiful enough to be allowed to be difficult. Nice Guys™ spent hours of their time acting like a friend to me, listening to my opinions, laughing at my jokes. Good men did those things too, and became my friends. The Nice Guys™ barbed their hooks, making a point of telling me that they’d rather be with someone like me than some pretty girl. They let me know they were doing me a favor, then freaked out on me when they realized there was no return on their investment. 

I’ve had strangers turn in an instant from trying to chat me up to angry, edging on violent, because I was a bitch who thought she was too good to suck them off. Like I was doing something rude by just trying to get to my bus stop on time, without wanting to be some stranger’s sexual gratification. They were quick to let me know that they had lowered their standards, throwing a dog a bone, just considering me that way. They let me know I was supposed to be grateful.

Looking over his Facebook, I feel like this guy falls into both categories. He can’t take the compliment for fear even the slightest association might lower his score and I suspect he is unfamiliar with the concept of the unconditional compliment. He probably gives more than is asked for, or acceptable, when he’s pursuing the object of desire. The object is supposed to appreciate his advances and pay out accordingly. Any object who wants more, or less, than he does has wronged him.

I’ve stopped giving away power to just any schmuck who takes it upon himself to judge my worthiness. The boy who made that post is not my lover, my employer, my landlord, nor even my friend. He has no power over me. To be fair, he doesn’t actually know that I exist. This isn’t about him, but about what that post represents. I know how I look. I’m a single woman in my forties, trying to lose about a hundred pounds. I know that I have never been a remarkable beauty. I also know that I am kind. I am hard-working. I am insightful. I am freakin’ hilarious. I have qualities that will serve a real relationship far better than just being pleasing to look at. Not everybody is going to appreciate what I have to offer, but that’s okay, I’m not saving my kisses for everyone.

If someone wants me, that’s kinda awesome, but it’s not my obligation to want them back. If I want someone, well, for me, that’s kinda terrifying, but still not their obligation to want me back. Expressing interest in someone should be a gift. I am grateful to the brave souls who have expressed interest in me without demanding a return. One of the great things about being old is that I am brave enough to tell a person when I want them. They can take the compliment and go, or they can reciprocate and start something. I’m good either way.

I’ve never been a single woman this age before. It’s scary and uncertain and I post things on my Facebook about my recent encounters with grocery store Lotharios. It’s been a long time since I was the teenaged tomboy hanging out with the guys as they rank the girls. I don’t really know what grown men are like when nobody’s looking, if they still seek their friends’ approval, keep score, change their story the morning after. Being single again is weird and scary and I’m trying to figure it out.

It’s a rare miracle, but sometimes it happens that two people feel exactly the same way about each other, and they want each other’s kisses and everything after, and they’re both free at the same time, and, yeah, maybe, someday… Until then, I’ll give the compliment of my interest where I feel it. The compliment, without barbed conditions, is a gift. Hopefully graciously, I will accept the compliment on those occasions it is given to me. ‘Cause that’s how grownups do.

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