The Perfect Compliment

I heard someone say this to a woman the other day: You have a regal nose. And I thought to myself, what a perfect compliment! Think about it – you can say it to friend or foe alike, sincerely mean it, and get away with it! The question is, which regal personality you were talking about. The poor woman has no idea you were referring to Julius Caesar, while she fancies her nose to be like that of Cleopatra’s or the Queen of Sheba’s.

It’s hard to say if that remark was intentionally equivocal, but its potential for diplomacy did make an impression on me. I made a mental note to compile one such list of perfect compliments.

See, an embarrassing moment seldom knocks before it stares you in the face. Before you know it, you find yourself in a position where you have to quickly think on your feet to say something nice. If you’re anything like me, you have an uncanny knack for landing right in the middle of these situations. Of course, don’t count on it to work all the time. For instance:

She: Look, I bought this (atrocious) outfit at Macy’s! What do you think?

You: You have a regal nose.

But imagine this:

She: That’s us in our honeymoon suite in the Poconos.

(Huh, I’m sure it is.) You’re looking at a picture that need not have been clicked to begin with, let alone passed around for people to frantically wonder what mentionable part – of the picture, that is – they could finally comment on.

You: Hey, you have a regal nose!

Tantadan! (That’s “Voila!” to you Francophiles). 1) You found something harmless enough to mention; 2) You meant every word you said – I mean, with so many kings and queens floating around in history books, there’s got to be someone who matches that nose. And finally, you made someone’s day with the perfect compliment. S.m.o.o.t.h.!

Watch out for the pitfalls, however. If you’ve already complimented someone on their regal nose, you want to refrain from commenting on their presidential chin. Especially so if that someone is a woman.

Well, the list has no end. Unfortunately, it hasn’t had a start either. At least not yet. But it’s imperative that one has it handy. If you come up with something, let’s hear it!

As for the one who mentioned the regal nose, what can I say, other than a heartfelt Thank You – for inspiring this post ;)

19 responses to “The Perfect Compliment

  1. I have, on several separate occasions, been told that i have a regal nose, a Roman nose and an ‘interesting face’.
    I assumed each was an insult but they turned out to be sincere compliments.

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  3. I’ll never be able to pull that off. Almost everyone that I know will turn back and ask me, “What do you mean?” And I’ll have nothing but a dictionary to throw at them, and still they will ask “What do you mean when you say that my nose is excellent/magnificent or relating to a king?” Or I have a friend who would surely ask me “Why are you talking about my nose?”

    What you’re telling me is that you’re too nice to throw back a “What do you suppose I mean?”, or to tell your friend you’d rather talk about her nose than anyone else’s. Thanks for dropping in; nice people are always welcome here :) -g

  4. Regal nose and such is fine.
    What I’m most kicked about is that someone actually spelled out “Tantadan!” Now that’s truly brilliant.

    Hehe. Wish there were some way of putting down the sing-song tone that went with it too! How cool would that be! :D -g

  5. He: Umm…aah! That’s Chanel No. 5 you’re wearing tonight. (Flashes his grin and intends to get cosier)
    She: You have a Beagle nose. :-I

    Hahaha, nice! -g

  6. I enjoyed the humourous article and the equally humorous comments….

    I’m glad you did, Sankar. Do stop by again :) -g

  7. i am one of those poor guys who end up making such comments about someone, yes, i take a look at the person i am seeing for the first time and sometimes say , ‘know what – u have a regal nose’.. or ‘seema lips’ or some such thing.

    or like the time i spotted some ink on the chest of a person who had shoved the ballpoint pen down the shirt and pointed it out – it was a (busty) lady who took great offense when the others on the table zoomed in as well..she did not talk to me for ages..

    Haha, you know that can be very endearing! (Darn, if I were speaking instead of typing, I could equivocate to make it sound like ‘enduring’ :D). rofl@the ink-cident, that’s hilarious! :) -g

  8. Hey thanks for this tip. I never know what to say when people shove photos under my eyes and look expectantly for a comment. Now I will talk of the regal nose.
    And there is that “interesting face” comment too. Whatever that means and whoever might find it interesting.

    Hehe, I have someone else to thank! Interesting how ‘interesting’ always comes to the rescue, yeah? :) Thanks, Usha! -g

  9. G,
    First time here.
    Off topic, slightly: Readers Digest had come up with a booklet/article on talking equivocally.
    For say a question, “Have you read ABC by XYZ”?
    Ans: No, I haven’t read than in French.
    Say, if the discussion is on something you have no clue of. Then you make a comment,”ya,things are so different in the South”.
    Two of the ones I remember.

    LOL. Why does it seem to me that’s exactly what you’re doing right now? :D Yeah I loved those ‘extras’ RD would come up with. Googled for this one; let me know if you remember a part of the title, should be interesting. Thanks for stopping by, Nikhil! -g

  10. I can never pull that off..regal is far too regal a word for me. Faced with such a situation, I’ll make like an indian fielder, point to something in the sky, wait for the person to look up and vamoose.

    rofl. That should work too, as long as you can catch a run in those few seconds :D -g

  11. Wouldnt this compliment be a little….nosey?

    …and just why would you want to know? :D -g

  12. You have a regal blog :D

    That’s the most regal thing anyone has ever said about it! ;) -g

  13. LOL! Enjoyed this!
    I am sitting in the lobby of a hotel which was formerly a palace. A dozen or so kings and princes are glaring down on me. The vast range, dimensionally, geometrically, chromatically and aesthetically, of their respective schnozzles bears out your theory.

    Thank you :-D Hahaha, you couldn’t be better placed! I hope you’re enjoying the festival…my regards to the camels :P -g

  14. Well, the Mumtaz of Taj fame, not the one featured in Bindiya Chamkegi:

    I am nice?! Okay! Not letting you meet the husband and kids. :)

    Aah, I get it. Now you got that song spooling in my head, and it’s annoying me. Couldn’t you have linked something more hummable? :P -g

  15. I’ve used it just once and I had Mumtaz in mind :p

    LOL :P That makes you nicer than many of us, then. (Mumtaz is regal?!) -g

  16. You know, I was gonna try and use the word Frugal. But none of the organs of the body fit that word in a positive way :)

    Tongue could work…as in (wo)man of few words. But then it doesn’t sound too right, does it :D -g

  17. Wow, that’s pretty neat. I wonder if Seinfeld caught this in one of his shows. I will keep this in mind “Regal Nose”. What about “Legal Mouth” if we have already used “Regal Nose” to the same person? or how about “Seagull eyes”, but I think the person will find out I am trying to compliment with rhyming words.

    Hehe, thank you! You know, legal mouth could be pretty smart, actually…for the compulsive prevaricator! :) Rhymes are good as long as frugal fist or fungal nails don’t figure anywhere in the conversation. -g

  18. ha ha.. especially the Julius Ceasar drawn in those Asterix Comics :D

    Thanks I will try this out on someone…

    :D -g

  19. So, are you the owner of such a proboscis, Ms. G?
    I also wonder if the reception to a differently worded compliment (“You look like a Jew”) would be, well, inspiring.
    The point omitted in the post is even more important in countries like India and Africa (are you reading this, Sarah Palin?): what do you say to someone who does not have a nose?
    “I can see that you have a beautiful mind!” ??
    Who nose?

    Can’t see my nose as I type, doc. I guess that’s a good sign for the eyes ;) lol@beautiful mind…who nose indeed :) -g

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