"Maybe, I should just say it casually. You know, just as a fleeting comment."
"Or maybe, I shouldn't. Her looking good shouldn't make any difference to me, should it?"
"But then everybody loves a compliment. Besides, she is looking nice and deserves to be told so."
"Shut up. I'm giving her a compliment. She deserves it. It's decided."
My office colleague was wearing ethnic attire that day but she was looking really nice. And after contemplating whether to compliment her or not for 20 minutes in my head, I'd finally decided to go ahead and tell her how nice she was looking.
"Hey, what's up?"
"Nothing much... Just wanted to let you know that you're looking very nice today!"
"Ummm... Thank you so much. Waise I've not done anything special... "
"Actually, let me re-phrase that. You're looking extra nice today. 'Cause otherwise it'd mean you don't look nice on other days. Which you don't. Hehehehehe *laughs awkwardly*"
"Okay... Hehe, thanks. You're too kind", she concluded while putting on her earphones. A hint of I-see-what-you're-trying-to-do-here in her eyes.
I stood there for a minute before the sound of people tapping away on their laptops reminded me of my surroundings. "Did I say something wrong", I asked myself as I walked back to my seat.
I'm not new to this scenario. Every time I've tried complimenting a girl with the purest of intentions, I've come across as an 'opportunist'.
"In a world full of Shakti Kapoors, be a Shah Rukh Khan", I've told myself a million times.
However, a compliment on a new hair-cut comes across as mockery, a compliment on a new dress comes across as sarcasm and a compliment about looking good comes across as mockery, sarcasm and flirting.
Maybe it's my tone. Maybe it's my face. Maybe it's those Bollywood movies (yes, Bollywood has to be blamed without exception) that have taught people ki ek ladka aur ek ladki kabhi dost nahin ho sakte but it seems like the concept of a 'harmless compliment' has been corrupted beyond repair.
Hence, just for the record ladies, if I compliment you, I'm not looking for a date, I have no intentions of marrying you and I definitely don't want to freak you out.
I'm just acknowledging the fact that you look nice.
"Bullshit!", I can already hear a lot of people out there saying. "A guy does not simply compliment a girl and then expect nothing in return". And to be honest, I don't blame you.
Complimenting a girl has become a tried and tested method of sugar-coating one's flirtatious behaviour. And while like most stereotypes it might be partially true, it needs to be broken nonetheless.
Besides, my compliments aren't gender specific. If I see a male friend of mine wearing an awesome pair of shoes or sporting a new haircut, he gets a compliment too. The only difference is that more often than not, I get a 'thanks man!' instead of a suspicious look in return.
Also, I know it can be an uphill task, but maybe it's high time we start differentiating between a sweet talker and someone who's making a genuine compliment. Maybe it's high time we judge a compliment not on the words, but on the basis of the tone and context it's being given in. Again, not saying it's going to be easy, but hey, it's worth a try.
It might be worth the effort to save people like me from being brandished as extremely polite lech. On my part, I promise to sound as convincing and non-creepy as possible. Pakka!