17 November 2009

"Hey, good lookin..." --Hank Williams, Jr.

It's strange the power that words can have to simultaneously flatter and flatten you. Sort of like the gaming that gets perpetrated these days... "You don't sweat a lot for a fat chick."

Early in my second career (computer engineer), I went with a small team (the boss and four other men) to Germany to meet with our counterparts, listen to various talks, and present information.

I was young, nervous, inexperienced. My boss was an exceptionally good boss and he encouraged me. His boss I only knew of; I'd never met him. He turned up in Germany.

At the appointed time, I delivered my presentation. It was as technical and boring as the other talks. The audience politely applauded and then the session broke. My boss and colleagues gathered around me and told me I'd done a good job. My boss' boss came over and introduced himself to me. Then he said, "You gave a good presentation. It's nice to see you're not just a pretty face." He then walked away.

My boss saw the thunder clouds in my face and immediately tried to do damage control... "Now, now, he didn't mean that. He thought he was paying you a compliment. He's from the old school of business... he doesn't know any better."

These days, if someone tells me I'm attractive, I am certainly pleased but there's still that tiny part of me that hears my old boss' boss.

Being a decoration? Not high on my list. I want to be viewed as attractive. I think everyone does. But it isn't first on my preferred list of adjectives. I like to think I am more than whatever it is you see, or think you see, when you look at me (whether you find me attractive or not.) *

The question(s) of the day: What adjective would it please you most for people to say about you? Where does attractiveness come in on your list?

* I realize many of you haven't seen me but work with me here. Suffice to say I am movie star quality attractive. Think Ernest Borgnine.


Lemmonex said...

Sure, it is nice for someone to find you attractive, but I appreciate some one thinking me intelligent much more.

Little Ms Blogger said...


Interesting (in a good way)

I can't really pinpoint one adjective, but I wouldn't adjectives such as bitch, rude, mean attached to me.

Liebchen said...

Being found attractive is great, of course. But being found intelligent and, I guess, warm/caring, edge it out, for me.

Ibid said...


"Sweet" means "You're a great guy but I'm never, EVER going to sleep with you. You have ZERO chance with me." I've had to update this in recent years. I've appended "but someday, when I'm ready to cheat on my husband I'll give you a call." to the initial definition.

But I still twitch when a guy on TV gets called sweet by his love interest.

Cyndy said...

Oooh it's too hard to come up with just one favorite complimentary adjective. Hear is what I wouldn't mind hearing: "She is very intelligent, practical, and considerate for someone who doesn't look as old as she is."

That's well balanced, right?

Cyndy said...

And one day I'll learn to proofread. Here and hear in the same sentence is apparently too much for my typing fingers to process.

Bilbo said...

I'll go with "pleasant." I've got radio star good looks.

repliderium.com said...

I think that your bosses boss might be one of the guys from Mad Men!
My word would be "Honest"
Attractive? I couldn't give a shit, as long as I feel attractive.

Ibid said...

Oooh... I totally misread the question.

I prefer not to get compliments. I tend not to believe you and think you're up to something. The best compliment is to just let me do my job.

LiLu said...

Funny and smart both come before attractive. Though I prefer the word "bangin" to attractive. It emphasizes the sass.

Alice said...

there's plenty of occasions when i would appreciate a compliment on my physical appearance, but work is not one of them..!

overall in life, i'd like the adjective to describe me to be either "enthusiastic" or "warm." if there were a way to connote enthusiasm for life without the crazed golden-retreiver sort of tone, that would be even better :-)

Titania said...

Smart, interesting, funny... As Alice said, attractive too, but it depends who says it and in which situation it is said.

Gilahi said...

My favorite adjective is "purple", but I don't know what it would mean if someone described me that way. Probably that I need a Heimlich or something.

Dear Joan Jett said...

I use to like being told I was articulate until I realized that some men used it to mean they were surprised that a woman could actually string a sentence together and say something intelligent and meaningful.

Now, I like being told I'm warm, engaging, funny, and interesting.

As for attractive, meh. I'm just your average mutt, thanks very much!

brad said...

"Useful." I would like to be seen as useful.

That sounds too plain.

"Bettering." I mean "bettering." I'd like people to think I make the world around them better somehow; whether it's listening, helping, whatever.

Barbara said...

"Genuine" would be my adjective of choice. Most of the time I don't find myself terribly attractive, so I would know anyone who called me that to be a flatterer. I don't need flattery, not ever, unless it's deserved.

Maya said...

Ooh, I would be sputtering at that comment too!!

Best compliment I ever got was when this guy and I were working on our Calculus homework and he said something to the effect of me having the sexiest brain or some such. I can't remember the exact wording, but that comment scored him high marks!

Bowie Mike said...

We delivered a beta version of a software product to a client a couple of years ago. They kicked the tires a bit, and one of the guys said, "well, it doesn't suck!" That's all that I'm shooting for.

Holy Cow! I didn't know Ernest Borgnine was still alive!

Drama Queen said...

Excellent question! Hmmm...that's a question that makes you think - I don't know right off hand what adjective I'd want to describe me, but "attractive" would be WAY down on the list!

I think my adjective would be "giving" - as in giving back to people, giving of myself, and not expecting anything in return.

And then - of course - sexy would be next. Duh. :)


The Bug said...

Ernest Borgnine - snicker...

I like for people to have low expectations so I can amaze them with my brilliance. So I think I'd like "surprisingly competent."

Kate said...

I'd prefer "smart" or "witty" to "attractive" any day of the week. Although "smart," "witty" AND "attractive" would be the ultimate trifecta.

Oliveira said...

Awwwgh, Kate stole my comment (which proves she is smart and witty obv). I would like to hear I am smart and witty. And after those two, the person is welcome to add "and attractive". "After" being the key word. And there would better be no surprised tone to any of those words.

restaurant refugee said...

Erudite would bring a sheepish smile to my face.

In a fit of brutal honesty, I will admit that attractive is probably higher on my list than I would ordinarily acknowledge - a lingering awkwardness from junior high school being the most likely culprit.

Angela said...

I would like to be called "smart." I'd rather be called "smart" than "intelligent," but I don't know why. And I'd rather be called "beautiful" or "cute" than to be called "hot" any day of the week.

Tina said...

I am frequently described as cabable and reliable at work - I'm fine with those. I also like smart. Attractive - meh - where it falls on the list depends - am I trying to get you to sleep with me? If not, I really don't care if you are attracted or not.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Whoops. I didn't realize I was signed in under "Dear Joan Jett." That was actually me back up there.


lacochran said...

Lemmonex: Luckily you are both. In abundance.

Little Ms Blogger: That's an interesting distinction: intelligent versus interesting: I know plenty of painfully dull intelligent people. So, clearly you are, at a minimum, interesting.

Liebchen: Your writing certainly implies a caring, thoughtful intelligence.

Ibid: Yeah, sweet is friend territory.

Cyndy: Very well balanced. Interesting that practical makes your list. I can't seem to find it on mine.

Bilbo: Ha! You and Elwood P. Dowd!

repliderium.com: Based on your writing, you are fearlessly honest.

Ibid: You got it. I'll even let you do *my* job.

LiLu: Luckily you're funny and smart, so that's viable. I wouldn't say "bangin" emphasizes the sass. I'd say it emphasizes the bangability.

Alice: Ha! Crazed golden retriever! But everybody loves golden retrievers, don't they?

Titania: And you are all of these.

Gilahi: Barney-esque?

Dear Joan Jett aka Tewkesy: You are indeed warm, engaging, funny, and interesting. And I'll add expressive, too. Your expressions are priceless.

brad: You do/you are. Your post yesterday was proof of that. You really are heroic.

Barbara: You are geniune and warm and thoughtful.

Maya: Now I'm picturing your brain in lingerie. :) You are certainly intelligent.

Bowie Mike: You don't suck! (I mean that in the best possible way.)

Drama Queen: Habitat for Humanity AND Red Cross volunteer? You're living the giving.

The Bug: "Surprisingly competent", hm? Maybe you and Bowie Mike should team up. He doesn't suck.

Kate: It's hard to pick just one, isn't it. Your posts imply all three.

Oliveira: Tone makes all the difference, for sure.
can be erudite. You are definitely attractive.

Angela: Interesting distinctions. Makes me wonder what associations you have with them.

restaurant refugee: You can be erudite. You are definitely attractive.

Tina: Are you trying to get me to sleep with you? Gosh, I didn't think so but now I'm wondering.

spleeness said...

Really great topic. Yeah, I want to be viewed as attractive but not like that's all that's there. That hasn't happened to me too much and maybe it's because I'm not model perfect.

I'd like to be viewed as warm, funny, kind and intelligent. That'd be my list.

Felisa said...

I like being interesting. And not as in a euphemism for "weird". And charming... because that's not limited to the way a person looks but can apply to the way they carry themselves :)