10 June 2016

Too gushy?

I love people who love people. This might come off as a silly or sentimental or sickly sweet slushy thing to say, but it’s the truth: I love people who love people.

Just as there are parks scattered throughout every city — at least I hope there are (to be honest, I’ve only visited one city: my own, which has parks scattered throughout it; so I assume that this is the case for all dimensions) — I say, just as there are parks scattered throughout every city of the multiverse, there should also be areas set aside and designated for compliment-giving. What I mean is this:

If you walk to and fro in your hometown, and travel up and down in it, you will doubtlessly meet many strangers and passersby; and one of the unwritten rules of politeness is that you should respect any unfamiliar person’s privacy, which is to say: limit your interaction with them to waving or smiling in a tactful way, but don’t get too personal. Now I understand the rightness of this rule, for oftentimes a pedestrian will simply want to continue on their walk and not be bothered. (Maybe they have to get back to work in a moment.) But I also think it would be nice if there existed, as I said above, areas of one’s community that were set aside for the exchanging of genuine compliments: so, if you go to one of these places, everyone there will understand that everyone else is in attendance for the purpose of friendliness, conversation, kind words, etc.; despite the fact that we are all perfect strangers.

But I’m not talking about a bar or a pub, where the covert purpose is dating, or complaining about one’s life to one’s server, or watching sports on a muted TV. I’m talking about being able to meet and talk with random new people while knowing that it’s safe and welcome—even encouraged—for you to express to them the things that you like about them. No strings attached; no ulterior motive. Like a one-night stand, except in the midafternoon, and wholly nonsexual.

This idea struck me after noticing that, when out on walks, I admire many things about each passerby, but I don’t want to embarrass or affront them by telling them specifically: “You look so noble but also compassionate,” or “Your gaze is magnetically dark: I’ve never seen anything more captivating,” or “Your hair is full-bodied, bouncy, glossy, beauteous.” (These examples focus on physical traits because, at first, one knows nothing more about a soul than its exterior; but, as the assessment progresses, one’s praise will begin to outpour for the superior side of every human form: the voice, the way one’s mind works: one’s inward aspects.)

But the recipient of admiration should know that the opposite party is not looking for “romance” or any kind of relationship (beyond that which is common between all citizens). The strength of one’s acclaim rests in the idea that nothing is expected in return.

…let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth…

This “compliment park”—or whatever you want to call it—would be a place to go to brighten your mood. For there are merits, charms, and appeals that each of us display every day of our life, but which we forget, and which would be good to be reminded of.

I hope this idea isn’t too cheesy. I really do wish that people could know their true worth: I’d wager it is much higher than their own self-appraisal. Even the vainest individuals underrate themselves.


M. said...

That's a lovely idea Tersh, I have myself spontaneously given compliments to strangers knowing that I'm probably breaking some taboo or other and it's usually felt alright. It has felt good for me and to me felt so for them too, perhaps because it was true, genuine, authentic and got a real smile in return. I can't recall there having been a negative reaction to such honest gushing, Still, I'm no good at getting compliments at all, I find trusting very difficult, practically impossible. And so, if you will permit, I would like these eternal cities to also contain one or two Insult Islands where I could openly show how much I hate people who hate people, themselves included. Safe places to get pushy or somesuch. Maybe such places would be therapeutic and maybe they'd be fun for people like me. They should be gated and secure because hating hurts. What you wrote reminded me of an encounter I had yesterday, not the best example of such easy hate, in fact probably actually even hate as love but here it is: I was idly admiring the shape of some luridly wrapped soft cheese at my local supermarket when I became aware that there was a man smiling at me. I turned to observe a hulking gestalt, a huge obese bearded figure disgustingly dressed in creased denim and sweating like a lunatic, holding a pineapple in his fat, podgy hand. An Ananas I thought, an Ananananas I thought, remembering how I had laughed at that word a lot when I'd first come across it. His face was kind and open and our eyes agreed that yes if he had something to say he may as well just say it. Do you know anything about Ananas he said, do you know if this one is ready. In his language, he used the word for Ready and not as he ought, Ripe. He was an adult, a middle-aged man and he spoke like a child. The pineapple in his paw was green. I looked over at the rack of fruit behind his bulk and took a step towards it, feeling his turbulence follow my move. As far as I know I said, Yellow is ripe, Green isn't quite. I watched him then toy with a few of them, measuring them up, still smiling, sometimes glancing back at me. He mumbled something about well if he wanted to eat it just now, then etc., and then he snatched up the ripest one, thanked me with a kind wide smile and kind of sludged away towards the till. Point being, what I had been saying to myself during the entire exchange was: When did you last take a shower you disgusting obese fuck. You stink and you are filthy. Your fingernails are black with dirt, sweat is dripping off you and you're handling fresh produce like no-one else ever eats this crap... I don't care if you have an alcohol or a drug or a psyche problem, you live in a civilized country where help is readily available and you know it is. You're a pig, you're a disgrace, you're worse even than me. And plus, it's a pineapple for fuck sakes, you've had half a lifetime to work this shit out. Come, and I will whip you into shape, literally. I hate you because you hate yourself. I may even have shed a tear for the world, for us, there in that air-conditioned aisle. Heh.

Aanyway, I'm glad I popped in here today, mainly because what caught my eye was a nice little coincidence once again. I'd been listening to my favourites on repeat, a tune called The Garden whose lyrics contain the words Mushy and Slushy and I was wondering about them and then I saw Gushy and Slushy and thought 'oh, how nice!'. It's music so it's all a matter of taste but here it is anyway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMJJmdlZoPw and the annotated lyrics from the OCD fansters: http://annotatedfall.doomby.com/pages/the-annotated-lyrics/garden.html

I'll check in again sometime, best wishes! M.

Bryan Ray said...

Ah thanks for stopping by and for giving such a full-bodied response with choicest flavor, M!

RE “Still, I'm no good at getting compliments at all, I find trusting very difficult, practically impossible.” —You point out a grave issue: I’m exactly the same way, in fact I find it easier to field a whole barrage of insults than to take one single compliment… so I’m right with you on those Insult Islands. Incidentally, in late May I wrote a scatterbrainstorm where I put forth the idea to start an agency called Faultfinders, which is sort of on that same vibe. So not only do I vote YES to your proposal; I also dedicate all of my media outlets to promote this cause, plus sixty percent of my offshore cash to ensure its success.

I’m sorry about your run-in with the distinguished individual at the market; and I’m thankful that you sublimated the experience in this account here: What was painful for you to experience was pleasurable for me to read.

Also I thank you for your contribution of The Fall’s Garden—this is the first I’ve heard it—I love it! And you’re not kidding: those lyrics are seriously ANNOTATED! Holy moly! or I should maybe say: Profane moly! I haven’t seen clarifications like that accompany a work like this since the endnotes to Eliot’s “Waste Land”!

Anyway, it’s great to hear from you! Best wishes to you & yours as well!!


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