Category Archives: beauty

On Compliments

On a recent visit home, I had a chance to see a group of friends from childhood, one of which is expecting a baby with his wife. He, I’ve known since the first grade; she, I met five years ago when they first started dating. But she is pure loveliness and fits in so well, I feel like I’ve known her my whole life. One evening, as she and I were chatting about her impending motherhood and I was waiting with my hands on her belly hoping for a kick, I told her husband that he found a really great woman and I was a happy to have her in our circle. As he thanked me, I went on to thank him for not letting her get away. And I told him that it felt really good to be able to say that and genuinely mean it. He delivered a second [this time modest] thank you as if taken aback by the sincerity of it all. And then I told him the story of when I first learned the importance of giving compliments.

I was probably six years old, and my sister Kristina five. We were with our mother at the checkout in the local grocery store, this rinky-dink place called Pantry Pride where everything was a little dingy and seeing a pretty face was like seeing sunshine after weeks of gloomy weather. The cashier—I remember her like she’s in front of me now—was a petite but slightly plump woman that I’m guessing was around 60 (though who really knows, because how accurately can a six year old gauge one’s age?). She had dark grey shoulder-length hair that she wore in big curls like from hot rollers, and thin wire-frame glasses that sat on the end of her nose. Her cheeks were a soft pink, like the color of raspberry sherbet, and her lipstick, a few shades darker. She had pale blue eye shadow on her eyelids and her eyelashes were long and lush. It sounds garish I know—first for a 60-year-old woman, next, for the grocery store—but it wasn’t. Honestly, she looked just like Mrs. Claus to me, but of course, in a different outfit.

Kristina was mesmerized the woman’s beauty as she watched her ringing up our groceries. She tugged at our mom’s arm and whispered up to her, “Mommy she’s pretty.” My mother looked back at her and replied, “She is pretty honey, but you need to tell her. If you don’t, she’ll never know.” So Kristina (who usually was not shy, but here, so in awe, was hiding behind our mom) mustered up the courage to lift her little head up to the woman and said, “You’re pretty.”

The woman beamed.

“See?” my mother said on the way out of the store. “Did you notice how she smiled when you told her? Whenever you have something nice to say about someone, you should say it to them. If you keep it to yourself, how will they know?” We nodded, acknowledging her instructions. “When you give a person a compliment, it makes them happy.”

I tell this story often, and whenever I do, I think yes, how wonderful it is that with something as simple as a few kind words, we are able to make one another happy, even if we’re strangers. As far away as that day in the grocery store is, I will never forget it. What a great lesson I learned from my mother that afternoon.

I have carried it with me ever since.


Loving This Part of Me

My mother always says that she knew immediately upon meeting my dad that he would be her husband. Her cousin was fixing her up with someone else, but when she saw my father and liked him better, said he was the best looking man at the dance. He has always been handsome, and back in the day, he was quite the good-looking dude, with thick, chestnut-brown hair, navy blue eyes and a warm smile. The most prominent feature on his face—what this post is really all about—is his nose. It always has been and it always will be. It’s a big one. But my mother looked past it and fell in love with him. She did however tell him once they were happily wed (and jokingly of course, though we all know jokes are usually truths we’re afraid to admit) that should any of their children be blessed/cursed with his nose, he would have to pay for rhinoplasty!

Well, lucky me, I got daddy’s nose. My mother begs to differ. In fact most people do. I understand why. My dad’s nose is big, as I mentioned before. Mine is not. From the front it is quite cute, I would say. It’s small, sort of bony and fits my face nicely. From the side, however, it is an exact replica of my father’s. Take my word—throughout my teen years I spent many a night in between two mirrors studying my profile and praying for it to grow prettier. Why couldn’t I have the straight nose like my younger sister, I wondered. Or like my older sister, one that is subtly sloped and points ever so slightly upwards at the tip…cuter even than Samantha’s from Bewitched. Instead mine has a big bump at the bridge, elongated nostrils and points just a titch downwards. Basically, it is my dad’s nose miniaturized. (Last time I discussed this with my mother, and showed pictures as proof, she started to agree).

So rhinoplasty. It was on my mind a lot when I was younger. I wanted a perfect nose. If my parents couldn’t afford it I would save all my pennies and pay for it myself. I thought about it, and asked for it, and saved my money…And then I started to grow up. I started to see my nose as a special part of who I am. So it has a bump like my dad’s but there’s no mistake that I am his daughter. I look at it (only on occasion these days) and scoff at the idea I once had to get it fixed, to change my God-given face for vanity when it’s really not so bad anyway. In a way it breaks my heart to think I ever wanted to trade it in.

This past weekend I had some friends in town from Florida. It was K’s birthday and everyone wanted to celebrate New York City style. Through another well-connected Manhattan friend we managed to get ourselves into a swanky private club I ordinarily would never set foot into, first because I’d never get in the door being the ordinary gal I am and next because I don’t typically cavort with the model/celeb crowd. It was fun for a night but in all honesty I felt just a little out of place amongst the sculpted figures and smoothed out faces—breasts perfectly round, lips plump, eyebrows lifted and yes, noses straightened. To each his or her own I always say, so if that means a little nip-tuck-slice-dice, fine. Heck maybe one day I’ll be bothered by my laugh lines and want some work done. As for my nose however, I’m glad my parents couldn’t afford rhinoplasty and that my jar of loose change was a few pennies too short. I’m thankful for the time I had to grow into my nose and finally love it, bump and all.