16 May 2007

May 16: Say it Out Loud Day

I’ve decided to anoint this day, May 16th, Say it Out Loud Day.

Participation is completely up to you, but I for one am going to be say-say-saying it out loud every chance I get in the next 17 hours.

To be clear, by "say it out loud" I mean pay a sincere, clothing-related compliment to a person whom you don't know.

I chose today not because it was in any way different from the 364 other sun-ups-to-sun-downs and not because some life-changing event from a May 16th past has motivated me to do so, but because I was so moved by the random compliment of kindness I witnessed yesterday and struck by the very real potential for those four simple, he-didn’t-have-to-say-them-but-he-did-anyway words – “those are gorgeous shoes” – to turn into a first date, a first movie, a first Tantric Sunday, a dog with a bow on a birthday, and so on. It can happen. It does happen. So whether you’re in the mood to fall in love, in the market for a fabulous new girlfriend, or you just want the satisfaction of making someone's day, try taking the initiative and say it out loud.

As a precaution, however, if you have a lazy or glass eye, are forced to wear an eye-patch or suffer from the condition that runaway bride from Minnesota has where the eyes open a little too widely, perhaps it’s best if you sat this one out. I don’t usually like to discriminate against the wonky-eyed, but in this case, when stranger-to-stranger conversation is involved, both parties will inevitably leave the exchange more uncomfortable than before they entered into it. Evidence of such an incident shown above.

For the rest of you, especially those individuals who don’t “do” small-talk even with people you know relatively well like work colleagues, the guy who makes your same grapes/pears/red onions/Gorgonzola salad every single Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Cosi on 19th and M, and the woman who waxes you from end-to-end-to-end on all-fours every five weeks, I strongly suggest you try at least once acting on that impulse you usually suppress and just tell that woman standing next to you in line at Chipotle how much you dig her cherry-red flats.

If you’re willing to join me in this endeavor, there are a few guidelines by which I would try to abide:

1. Do NOT comment on physical features – leave that kind of class-act to the day laborers outside the paint store next to Whole Foods and the lobbyists “working late” with their young assistants at the oyster bars in Georgetown

2. Stick to articles of clothing, shoes and large accessories – jewelry is off-limits because (a) it’s too intimate and (b) because of its small size, your commenting on it implies you’ve been doing more than just taking a glance at the person

3. Don’t approach people wearing headphones or who are otherwise giving off the impression "please leave me alone" – it can work, there are cases, but for the most part, those iBuds are in the hot girl's ears for a reason and it’s not because she couldn’t do without listening to Rihanna’s “S.O.S.” for 20 minutes

4. Offer a compliment that doesn’t require anything more than a “thank you” response – you’re the one doing the work, not your subject; often (s)he’ll say something you can then build on but don’t assume this will happen

I know this is out of character for me - ripping on Katherine Heigl’s elephant legs it certainly ain’t - and you're right to suspect a black-humor angle to my uncharacteristic kindness, but in all honesty, today is just one of those days when I need a bit of strucutre to keep me from listening to "November Rain," "Reason Why" and "This Year's Love" on a constant pity-party three-repeat. It was either introducing Say it Out Loud Day or calling in "sick" and going through the entire from-Say-Anything-to-Must-Love-Dogs John Cusack dramedy repetoire on my couch in boyshorts and a 'beater. Judging from the look on the face of my first "I love that _____!" recipient as I walked to work this morning, I'm pretty sure I made the right decision.


tom h said...

Jo what a great idea I think I will take you up on that......wish me luck......

Anonymous said...

i love doing this!

sometime its awkward though, especially if its the other way around and someone compliments something you have on, but you don't like anything about what that person is wearing. are you supposed to return the compliment even if there is nothing TO compliment? what are the rules??? this stresses me out.

brown bear '02 said...

I always think but never act. Maybe today I finally will. No promises though!

You've never had a problem with this, even as far back as I've known you. I still remember you walking up to that bridal party not even 15 minutes after beating Radcliffe and told a guest, not the bride but a *guest* how much you liked her dress.

The bride just stood there.

Johanna said...

h - I wrote a post about this not too long ago, and got RIPPED apart by some of my readers for not being more grateful for the praise. I hear you, though. When someone in sweats and Crocs compliments my pencil skirt, I'm like, "Uh, okay?" It just doesn't make sense to me. But I always say "thank you" and try to reciprocate as best I can. Usually it's something like, "You have really thin wrists" or, "that handbag isn't *too* awful."

bb'02 - hah! I haven't thought about that in ages! I remember the look on that bride's face. Classic. It's true, though, the guest had a better dress on -- what am I gonna do, lie to the bride just so her super happy special day can be extra super happy and special? Jigga, please.

bff in chicago said...

babe, it's a tough anniversary, I know, but just think how much worse it is for him. just thank god you aren't you-know-who.