“You look good. The beard suits you,” she said giving me a one up, one down look. She turned to her flatmate. “Men always get better looking as they get older!”
Now receiving a compliment from a beautiful French woman – albeit patently untrue – is an ego boost whether you're 20 and square jawed or in your forties and bald. But how to react?
I probably blushed and mumbled something inconsequential. I’m not used to receiving, let alone taking, a compliment. When something is unusual, out of the ordinary, I tend to burble a forgettable response. I might have said something complimentary back. Sincere and merited - no doubt - but all the same, knicker-not-dropping banal.
So, in retrospect, here's what I should have said:-
1) "I know." Short, classy, the blonde in a Little Black Dress of receiving compliments.
2) "Get your coat you've pulled." or it's cockier twin, "Get your coat, I've pulled."
3) "Give me a fiver and I'll let you lick my beard." Yeah, sounds a bit 'out there', no? Slightly perverse? But, I knew a girl once who liked to suck my beard. Yeah, I said beard. Weird and yet shockingly erotic. (Forgot that until just now. Muse. Muse. Muse.)
4) What about - "You look great too! Get on your dancing shoes and we'll head to an age appropriate club that plays songs from yesteryear and we can pretend we're young." Usual Friday night then. Tim rides the sofa solus (again).
5) "The secret is regular sex. I need to do it four times a day. Oh look! I think I'm due a session now." Tacky. Tacky. Tim. You didn't say this did you? Er, probably. Later. Slurred perhaps. Women love that.
6) "Thank you, I don't believe you but I'm happy you said that. You however always look great!" This is probably the best response. Acknowledge. Deflect. Give back. Must learn this one.
Anyway, next time I get a compliment I'll post it on this website. They don't come often. Not as often as I'd like. There was one in 1988. I have the letter.