One of my earliest memories is a strange one. I am about 7 years old and I am playing with the neighbor kid for the day at a swimming pool. As we munched our snack of potato chips, he looked at me and said, “You’re beautiful.”
I froze, embarrassed, not knowing what to say.
“I know,” I blurted and then knew instantly that this was ALL WRONG, that you were NOT supposed to say “I know” in that situation. That was the conceited thing, the stupid, bad, absolutely wrong thing to say.
My face flushed hot with embarrassment and hatred. I can still remember the taste of blood in my mouth from biting down hard on my tongue. Punishment.
Today, I was at the San Francisco airport picking up friends of mine. As I waited at the baggage claim, a young boy (about 6 years old) challenged me to a game of heads and tails. Every time the quarter came up heads, he did a victory dance that resembled a Scottish folk dance. It was hilarious. He also showed me the United Airlines wings he got from the pilot on his flight. “Way better than the ones from Continental,” he confided.
As I laughed at yet another victory dance, he stopped, looked me in the eyes and said, “You’re beautiful.” My face flushed completely red. Suddenly I was 7 years old again.
I grinned, surprised, and said, “Thank you.”
And then he flew away, United airlines wings in hand.