One of the posts I have been planning and writing notes towards is about how I Iike to compliment people on their clothing. It’s maybe not the most personal kind of affirmation, but when you don’t have any deeper connection happening it’s better than not affirming them at all. And you can’t tell in advance what meaningful connections they have with that item of clothing. Complimenting it may be taken as an affirmation of their taste, or there may be all kinds of personal associations to this sweater, etc.
I was complimenting Joe on his shirt. (I didn’t get his actual name – Joe, if you’re reading this, let me know your name. Better still, leave a comment here on the blog so any readers can get more of a glimpse of you.) It was some kind of faux-suede, a great warm earth tone, and hung on him like it was really comfortable. From his response. it was clear that he liked it as much as I did. I didn’t unearth where/how he got it (more that would be fun to hear from you, Joe), but I had the impression he had had it for a long time.
It was a total bluff on my part – part of a shtick I do sometimes – that I said, “I’ll give you 15 bucks for it.” i was completely surprised when he immediately seemed to be weighing my offer. His wife saw him doing this and jumped in herself: “Oh, not 15 – ten”, which made it all seem even more like a real possibility. Moments later, Joe was peeling off the shirt, I was pulling out $10, and we had made a deal.
All three of us – and the woman waiting patiently next in line – were completely turned on by the spontaneity of this connection.
There was another layer here that I may have been intuiting, but not consciously, which came out some minutes later when I was telling another customer about this exchange. (I ask her for a highlight of her day, she returns the favor by asking me the same question – and out spills this story). She said, “They really liked you!” It’s pretty interesting that it took her prodding to get me to realize this. And with this realization, another recognition popped out.
Joe didn’t want to get rid of his shirt – he really liked it. He just wanted me to have it! Underneath a fun, playful exchange there was really a kind of love. Now I’m especially going to wear this shirt in good health.