Ginny Ip

When someone compliments you
are you supposed to say
thanks! not thanks? but thanks!
Yes dear, with some oomph
exude confidence! (but not pride)
and if you are a woman,
complement it with a smile,
that’s complement with an E, not I
never give a compliment back
(it shows low self-esteem,
that’s why)

Well sure, that sounds nice but
the other day a boy came up to me
said I had lovely eyes
fox-like eyes, exotic eyes
smoky, almondy,
like a crescent moon eyes.
hang on a minute, he said,
will you be mine?
you’re just my type.
In this case,
does one also say thanks!? Or more like
thanks! but no thanks!?
(maybe leave out the smile this time?)

and then there’s that time in class
when that white kid I told you about
said I must be great at math
since you know…
it’s you know…
(scientifically proven)
and could he see my notes for a sec?
In this case,
would it be appropriate to say
certainly not, I’m not that great at math
(or would that reflect low self-esteem again?)

I’ve also been told countless times
by all sorts of people —
teachers, bosses, strangers,
family, friends, lovers
–that I speak so well in
this language that I’ve mastered
just like everyone else.
It would seem strange to say thanks!
here, wouldn’t it?
In this case,
perhaps you, too! would be a better fit?
(or does that count as complimenting back?)


Ginny Ip is an economist by training and an artist at heart. She hails from the proud city of Hong Kong and fills her time reading, writing and thinking about her freedom. @unfree_is_me