Today at the grocery store an old man wearing a veteran hat(didn’t catch which war)told me “nice beard.”
I didn’t understand him at first, I thought he’d said something about beer.
“Nice beard, he said, stroking his own gray, distinguished facial mane.
“Thank you,” I said, finding myself breaking into an involuntary grin. He smiled and nodded and walked away. And it didn’t strike me as the least bit odd, for some reason.
These days, it’s weird, according to the standards our society has established for itself, for a man to compliment another man, unless it pertains to his car or his gun collection or something of that nature. You know, macho stuff. Acceptable stuff. Manly stuff.
What’s he trying to do? Hit on me? What is he, some kind of pervert? Does he want to lock me up in his basement or something?
I didn’t think any of those things. I took it as a sincere and flattering compliment. He took the time out of his day to tell another human being something nice, and it was appreciated.
Why don’t we do that more often? We’re quick to criticize and slow to compliment, as if showing appreciation for another man’s beard or glasses or cologne or whatever else it might be endangers our masculinity somehow. We’re supposed to stay guarded and hardened.
What’s it gotten us, though, this cold standoffishness? Any benefits? Can anyone think of anything at all? I can’t. But I’m also part of the problem and am addressing myself , as well.
Lots of women have told me they like my beard. And it always makes me feel good. It’s very validating.
When a man tells me the same thing, but in a completely non-sexual, non-flirtatious manner, it also feels good, in a different way.
Is it possible that man-to-man compliments actually strengthen, rather than weaken us, as we’ve convinced ourselves? Duh. Of course they do. Let’s quit being so stiff and closed off. I’m going to go out of my way to compliment a stranger as soon as I encounter one worth complimenting.
I say that…but will I actually do it? It sounds hard! I’ll give it a shot, though. “Cool shoes” counts, by the way. Anything counts.