I envy people who are able to receive compliments graciously. I
can't take a compliment at all. If someone throws me a compliment I
shoot it down in flames: You like my top? It's M&S. I bought it
ages ago. It was cheap. I don't like it much. It's too small for
me. Then we stand awkwardly in the fallout, particles of compliment
raining down, until the person makes their excuses and moves on to
talk to someone with more evolved social skills.
If I do get a compliment it usually happens when I'm having a
'femme' day. If I rock up to work wearing my hair down, a bit of
lippy on or wearing a skirt, my female colleagues will say, "Oooh,
you look GOOD today." They're giving me their unsolicited approval
for trying on a 'straight' look, as if I've just emerged shoulders
hunched from the changing room and asked, "Does my bum look gay in
Male colleagues, on the other hand, seem to mistake my little
forays into more feminine attire a for a cry for help, evidence
that somewhere inside there's a straight person - possibly stuck in
Spanx - trying to get out. I have tried to explain to them
that it's not the clothes that maketh the lesbian… it's the sight
of Kylie spinning around in hot pants.
I wore a dress to a meeting this week and, sure enough, as I
walked through the door a bloke in the office called me over to
him, as an owner might receive their dog returning triumphant with
a ball. "You're wearing a dress! Good for you! Well done!" I was
quite relieved when he didn't ask me to roll over so he could
tickle my tummy.
"You're wearing a dress". Oh, here we go. This always happens when
I wear a dress. People feel compelled to remind me of that fact,
just in case I hadn't noticed - as if it's ketchup on my chin. I'm
glad to hear I am in fact wearing a dress, because from the look on
his face I was beginning to worry that I'd left the house without
it. You're wearing a dress? How do I respond to that? I can't say,
'Thank you", because technically it's not a compliment, it's a
statement of fact. It's almost a compliment. Actually, it's an
adjective short of a compliment, but who's counting?
Somehow we stumble into a rather perfunctory flirting session. He
knows I'm a lesbian, but he's battling millions of years of
evolution at seeing me in a dress. Then just as I'm about to leave
he says, "You look good in a dress". Oh no. There it is. The
compliment. I know I must accept it graciously and move on.
"Thanks." I splutter, "You too."
Follow Sarah on Twitter: @rubbishles