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Wed, Mar. 20th, 2013, 09:14 pm
The Importance of Being Ungracious

Now that I'm reaching my retirement and becoming an honorary cranky old person, I've found yet another rock upon which I stand. Gosh! It's amazing how many little things I've ignored over the years that bothered me but I never did anything about it, just swallowed it and swallowed it in my efforts of keeping the waters smooth. No wonder old folks are so darn cantankerous!

I'm talking today about compliments, specifically about superficial compliments on appearances. Now, according to polite society, the correct response is a gracious 'thanks' and everyone moves on to the next topic of conversation. And the correct way I'm supposed to feel is grateful, or perhaps flattered. But I've never felt those things. Sometimes, if the attention is unwanted, I feel uncomfortable. The rest of the time, I tend to feel annoyed...and, yes, uncomfortable. Not because of some weird self-esteem thing, but just because I feel like a cheat whenever someone compliments me on something I didn't do.

Let's say you had a team project only you caught the flu and your partner does all the work and you get the highest marks in your class. Suddenly everyone is congratulating you. "But no, see, I didn't do anything, see," you stutter, "it was all.." and everyone looks at you like you're being a rude brat who can't accept a simple compliment so you look at your feet and mumble 'thanks' and feel like a cheat and a heel because all you did was sit at home and here you are being complimented for it.

I didn't control my looks; I was born this way. You might as well go up to my parents and say, "good work on that breeding, I see you won the genetic lotto with that one." I think the only time a person should be complimented on their looks is when they've been dieting or working out, or done something difficult to improve their looks, and then the compliment should be specifically tailored to express that action. I hate being complimented on having a pretty face, but if I've done a good job on my makeup I don't mind when people notice it, and that's just as true for my gory zombie makeup as my glamour stuff.

This all comes about because I really wanted to share my new hairdo with everyone; it was such a big deal because I'm trying very hard to make it a happy occasion. Accepting the fact that I can no longer have long hair has been (and continues to be) a really tough one for me, even though I never particularly cared for long hair. It's just a symbol of one more thing I can't do or have because of this effing disability and there are already so many things I can't do or have sometimes it all just feels too much. So I know a bunch of people are going to want to say 'nice hair' if for no other reason than to cheer me up but I don't want to post the picture because of that. I mean, genetically I had nothing to do with my hair, and if you were willing to shell out large sums of money to go visit my hairdresser (and travel over an hour each way like I did) you could have fabulous hair too. I didn't even pick out the style. I sat down, told the hairdresser my problem, and paid him $80 to cut my hair into something fabulous that was easy to manage. He used to do runway models, of course he gave me a nice hair cut. The only time I was ever dissatisfied with something he did I brought in a picture of a haircut and told him to give me exactly that and he did, and it looked awful on me and I deserved it.

I'm sharing the photo with my closer friends because I figure they are curious (since I talked so much about it) and I want to share the experience. I don't need the self-esteem booster, but if I did I'd much rather get it because I had the cut done even shorter than necessary so the hair could be donated. And of course, the salon uses Locks of Love which doesn't take highlighted hair so I had to track down a charity on my own that would (they gave me my hair in a bag). We managed to squeak out the necessary 10" without having to give me a buzzcut, but I wouldn't have minded either way. It feels weirdly appropriate, thinking I can no longer have long hair but now someone else can at least have some hair. And also strangely recursive; the first time I ever cut my hair short I donated it as well. Two hair cuts; one a beginning and one an ending. I'm glad I have nice hair.

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