Godbey: Thanks for the compliment, I think

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2023

By Jack Godbey


With cold weather on its way, it’s time to batten down the hatches and finish up those summer chores that I’ve been putting off. I won’t say that I ignored my to-do list; however, when I reviewed it, I saw one task was to buy a new Sony Walkman. I may have been putting some things off since 1992.

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I had finally gotten around to staining the deck and was wearing the worst clothes I own. You know, the ones that you have to reach way in the back of your closet to find? My wife tried to throw them out years ago, but I told her that I might use them again. She just rolled her eyes as I placed them back into my closet. Today, I pulled them back out, and despite them being two sizes too small, the crotch torn out, and a big hole in the knee, I flaunted around the house in them as if to say, “Ha ha, told you I’d wear them again.”

Right in the middle of staining the deck, I realized that I had grossly underestimated how much stain I would need, so I had to run out to the home improvement store. I didn’t bother to change my clothes as I thought that I’d only be there for a second. Just as I feared, once I got into the store, someone came up to me and said, “Hey, aren’t you that writer guy?” Giving up on trying to be incognito, I responded, “Yes, I am.” The guy looked at me from head to toe and, scanned my hobo look with a confused look on his face and said: “I always feel more intelligent after I read your stuff.” I’m sure he meant well, but what I heard was that I’m so stupid he feels smarter compared to what I write. Gee, thanks, buddy.

I began to think about other so-called compliments people have said to me over the years. I recall when a friend from work came to my house. When they came in and looked around, they said, “It’s so refreshing to see a house that looks lived in. Most people obsess too much about being clean.” I’m like, “Thanks, I’m going for the barnyard feel.”

I went to a party at my work once, and a co-worker looked at the clothes I was wearing and said, “You’re looking sharp tonight. I didn’t know they made such stylish clothes in your size.” What could I say? I just responded, “Thanks, it’s the new Fat Albert collection.” Once, someone responded to a picture I posted on social media, “That picture is so good. I didn’t realize that was even you.” Not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult.

I pulled into a parking lot and saw someone I used to hang out with. He looked at my truck and said, “You can afford a truck like that? It must be nice.” Yeah, Jimmy, it is nice. It’s called having a job. You should try it sometime.

I heard someone try to describe me the other day, and they said, “He still looks good for his age. Plus, he’s got a great personality.” Ouch.

I’ll admit that I’m not above a backhanded compliment myself. I had the displeasure of dealing with a restaurant server recently who was obviously having a bad day. I told her, “Good morning,” and she just rolled her eyes. When I asked for a refill on my glass of milk, she let out a sigh as if I had asked her to go milk the cow herself. I handed her the tip and said, “I hope the rest of your day is as pleasant as you are.” By the time she figures out I tipped her in Canadian money, I’ll be long gone.