Even to give a compliment. If someone has not directly asked you, "How do I look?" it is rude to offer your opinion on their appearance.
Today, the wisdom of that was reaffirmed to me.
"Deb, what are you doing different?" my colleague asked me in the hall at lunch. "You look pretty."
Was there ever a compliment more badly phrased? I'm sure there was. But this one was a doozy. I have failed to capture the semi-awed tone implying that I was unfit for viewing in daylight before in print, but it was there.
Fortunately for us all, I know this lady is a sweet, kind, amazing individual who teaches kindergarten. A saint, in other words. I know she meant to pay me a sincere compliment, and her chagrin when she realized what she said was genuine and a little painful.
Also fortunately, I am a survivor of foot-in-mouth disease, which has plagued me for years. I'm constantly reviewing what I say or write in fear of saying the wrong thing. Every time I relax my vigilance, something slips through that causes me to spend the next six months writhing in mortification every time I remember it, which is every second of every day.
So, to my wonderful colleague, thank you for the lovely compliment. I accepted it, and continue to accept it, in the spirit in which I know you intended it.
And I'm pretty sure it was the haircut. I am pretty cute, if I do say so myself...