Turning a compliment back to the giver
Editor's Note: This latest submission for the "Senior Class" column is from Jo Stewart of Solon Springs. * * * Here are three Trivial Pursuit questions for you: 1) What Disney character said, "If you can't say anything nice about someone, don't s...
Editor's Note: This latest submission for the "Senior Class" column is from Jo Stewart of Solon Springs.
* * *
Here are three Trivial Pursuit questions for you:
1) What Disney character said, "If you can't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything at all?" (Answer: Bambi's mother).
2) Who said, "If you can't say anything nice about anyone, sit next to me?" (Answer: Definitely not Bambi's mother).
3) Who is Phyllis Wilcox? (Answer: A person from my past who taught me a useful lesson about how to handle compliments).
Compliments come in all sizes and shapes, from the direct and indirect to the "so what do you want from me" variety. We've all received compliments, but sometimes a simple "thank you" response doesn't suffice.
When my college-bound granddaughter came to visit me recently, and we were considering what movie to watch from my meager video library, I found "The King and I" and that triggered my Phyllis Wilcox story.
Phyllis was a hometown girl who made it to Broadway. At the time our paths crossed in 1946, I was planning a career in the theater, very aware of her star qualities. She was a diminutive, vivacious brunette with a standout, soprano voice. When she tried out for the "King and I" she was cast as one of Yul Brynner's wives, the one who had both a speaking and singing role.
Yet she never forgot her roots. When she came to Indianapolis with the touring company, she found time to sing some selections from "The King and I" in the Fellowship Hall of the Irvington Methodist Church, her home church and mine.
After her performance, I babbled on about how much I admired her and had been following her career, knowing she probably didn't remember me at all. That wasn't the case. She graciously wished me success at Indiana University (her alma mater) and then paused before adding, "Jo, I like the way you are wearing your hair." I couldn't believe it. She noticed my hair!
What I didn't realize then is that sincerely turning the compliment back to the giver is a great exit strategy.
When I passed this story on to my granddaughter while we watched "The Princess Dairies," (she passed on "The King and I"), I told her she was a very good listener. In response she paused, smiled at me and said, "I like the way you are wearing your hair, Gramma."
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