“I love this thing you’re doing with your hair. It’s so… down-to-earth and natural-like. I wish I could be more like that.”
Bobbi-Claire Akins says that to Birdee Pruett in Hope Floats (you know that movie where Sandra Bullock is adorable and Harry Connick is delicious?). Anyway, you and I both know that what Bobbi-Claire means is that Birdee’s hair looks like a cat has been sucking on it and Bobbi-Claire wouldn’t be caught dead looking like that.
I told you yesterday that we were going to talk about Bobbi-Claire and so we are.
The backhanded compliment is truly an art form, I think. I’ve never learned how to deliver one particularly well, but I can appreciate it when someone else does. I can appreciate it from a distance, that is. Up close and personal, I find generally them cowardly and unattractive unless they are delivered in the voice of Julia Sugarbaker, then they’re pretty impressive.
I believe that we all know people who deliver them, don’t we? You know the people I mean – they look all positive and fresh upon first meeting; but, the more time we spend with them, the more negative and stale they look. We end up feeling tired and drained after too much time in their company because, while they appear to be kind, they are really not.
Like the lye my sister once made for some kind of home ec project, these people will eat at us and eat at us until we’re left feeling raw and burned without a clue as to why. They damn with faint praise. They deliver slights so skillfully and so deftly, that we’re not entirely sure they were slights at all. Maybe they are corrosive people, but maybe we are just being too sensitive.
Clotille Jones says that we’re not and that we need to get away from those people!
Lyers, those most insidious of the negative and corrosive, are a special breed. They likely have some particular personality disorder or another; but, I’ll let one of my psychologist friends define all that. I truly believe, though, that they are forged that way – either in the womb or in early development. In either case, they have been that way FAR too long for anyone else to change them or to even defeat them using their own weapons of choice, those backhanded compliments. The only way I can deal effectively with them is to recognize them for what they are and to limit my exposure to them. Even after I identify a snake, I still have to beware of its poison. Some venom can be absorbed just by exposure. It’s important to remember that.
Clotille says that if you wrestle with a pig, you’ll both get dirty and the pig will like it. (That’s not exactly appropriate here, but I like it when she says that.) What is appropriate is when she says that when you lie down with dogs you get fleas. Or, in this case, when you lye down with negative people, you come up the less for it.