The Problem With Certain Compliments

IMG_3925Whilst on vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama, I bought a shirt. My mom liked the color so much that she went back and bought the exact same shirt, which conjures up thoughts of the Motherboy pictures in Arrested Development, which is one of the funniest shows in the history of television, so if we are ever together and wearing the same shirt, at least we will be in good company. Apparently though, my mom isn’t the only one who likes the shirt, as I’ve gotten compliments on it every time I’ve worn it, most people commenting on the color, which both my mom and wife call “coral.” Up until a week and a half ago, I had no idea that coral was a color, and have never head the word used aside from “coral reef” or “I found a piece of coral in the ocean”, but lately, every time I wear the shirt, I’m surrounded by an endless chorus of the word.

The biggest problem with the shirt is not my skepticism at the color name, but rather the compliments. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good compliment and would never shy away from them, but it’s just hard to know how to respond when the compliments are directed at a piece of clothing rather than the person wearing it. Just a few minutes ago, in Subway, someone told me they liked my shirt, adding that it’s a great color, and I told her thank you, but I felt like a complete idiot. What am I thinking this person for? I didn’t make the shirt or mix colors together until I formed the perfect shade of pinkish red, known to the rest of the world as coral. I believe it was Jerry Seinfeld who first brought my attention to the fact that accepting compliments on behalf of your clothes is ridiculous, because you have essentially done nothing to earn the compliment. While I agree with that wholeheartedly, it still doesn’t solve the problem of what to say in those situations.

I guess I could have acknowledged the compliment with an “Okay” but that just seems dismissive, like I don’t really care one way or the other, which I really don’t, but for the purposes of blending into society I suppose I should at least pretend to do so. I think the most appropriate response would be “Yes me too. That’s why I bought it” but that comes across as pretty rude and might possibly make the complimenter feel like a complete idiot, which might be just the comeuppance he or she deserves for complimenting a t-shirt in the first place. While this is the most honest response, it will most certainly making the person dishing out the compliment like you less, so it’s probably not advisable to say this. So now that we’ve kind of talked the situation through and can agree that there is not a good response to someone complimenting your clothes, I think the best solution is to collectively, as a species, quit telling other human beings that we like their clothing.


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