My sister is a shrink, and I am a writer. Very different jobs, micro communication and mass communication. We talk about that huge difference all the time. In fact, we barely ever shut up about it.
But one thing both of our jobs have led us to total agreement on, is this: People prefer to be lovingly seen to being politely flattered.
I have written some very tough things about the subjects of newspaper and magazine profiles, but the accuracy and the context have led almost all the subjects to appreciate the portrait. Using hands I had called “meat mitts” in a Chicago Tribune Magazine profile of his domineering and cantankerous (and charming) self, a blacksmith shook my hand so hard that I sank to my knees on the gravel of his parking lot.
I recently experienced the joy of being seen, myself.
I constantly complain about my tummy, which is always larger than I want it to be, and has been for at least the last 15 years, since I quit smoking and started exercising and discovered the former is a more efficacious weight-loss method than the latter.
COVID, it seems to me, has taken my belly-cosity to a new level. Which is a drag for the people who love me—and the people who work with me—and the people at Wendy’s—all of whom I complain to, all of the time.
Almost to a one, they tell me I’m fine. Some of them even tell me I have “body image issues.” One dear one even offered to let me talk to her shrink about it.
Then last Friday, I ran into my old pal Howard. I see Howard exactly once a year, right around this time of year, for an annual golf event that begins for me when Howard calls to me, from across the golf course parking lot, “D Murr!”
The event is this week, and we had a little practice round Friday. “D Murr!” Howard cried from across the parking lot, on Friday. And as he approached me for an embrace, he shouted, “You look healthy! Are you healthy?!” I said yes, I am healthy.
Then on the fifth fairway, Howard drove past me in his cart—I was carrying my bag, of course, to maximize my exercise, as I always do—and Howard bellowed, “D Murr! You been eatin’ good!”
I sit here giggling at that three days later. Belly laughing, you might even say.