Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's Nice Not To Be Nice

I was at a colleague’s house for lunch one day and was quite pleasantly surprised that she had prepared laksa all on her own despite once claiming to be allergic to kitchens. The nice surprise was shortlived however, as, upon being served with the day’s special, I quickly discovered that her so-called allergy to kitchens are not without merit. The laksa was tasteless to say the least. The gravy was so thin you can literally take a bath in it and still come out looking pretty clean.

She seemed to be quite proud of it and I knew she tried, so I didn’t give her a hard time about it. But another friend who came along started giving her compliments after compliments, “This is so delicious!”, “I didn’t know you can cook so well”, “Can you give me the recipe”, etc etc. And all this she said without a hint of sarcasm.

I nearly choked. I couldn’t very well give similar compliments because it’s not true. But on the other hand, I couldn’t tell the truth either and burst her bubble. There was no correct way to tell her that her cooking sucks. Besides, I didn’t know her all that well to be so upfront with her like that. So, I kept quiet and continued chewing on what I could only describe as white noodles served with tap water sprinkled with lime and salt.

What bothered me though, was my other friend who was giving her compliments that she didn’t deserve. Yeah, maybe my friend was just being nice. But did she have to lie in order to be nice?

This reminds me of those scenes in so many TV shows where the men were faced with the dreaded question of “Do you think I look fat in this?” or any variation thereto. I have always thought that you should tell the truth, no matter what. But if the truth may not be pleasant, then it’s nice not say anything at all. Of course, some men out there might beg to differ in this. They have their reasons I’m sure.

As for me, my compliments are hard to come by. Not that I’m very hard to please, it’s just that, in most circumstances, when I don’t like something, I can’t pretend that I do. I can restrain myself from being nasty but I cannot, for the life of me, fake niceness.

If I give you a compliment, for whatever reason, trust me, it’s sincere and came straight from the heart. But if you are expecting one, and I said nothing, please don’t get angry. Perhaps I was just being nice to you.


A Babe Of Very Little Brain said...

i think the new graphics/layout/look-and-feel of your blog is absolutely wonderful.

how'm i doing, luv?

Typhoon Sue said...

that depends on whether you are like me or one of those bermuka-muka type.

if u're like me, thank u very much.
if u're not, then I'm giving u the finger


Manal said...

Ummm.....i'm a bit of a simon cowell type but have learned to be more sensible, polite and rational.

There was this time when i went to my fren's fren place a few days ago and they served some cordial drink that got totally rejected by my tongue. So lpas dah sip sikit jer, i pon tunggu while they were so engrossed in their chat and lpas tu terus i letak jer the whole glass on the table and buat pokerface. Rather than tahan2 buat muka kelat time minum, i rather pretend that i'm already done.

Kalau kawan rapat sikit, i prolly will have to be more frank la. If i'm in that certain foul mood or too tired, even simon cowell wud prolly break into tears the moment i said something that shot straight to the heart.

I think u r wayyyyyy nicer despite being a legal officer (or a lawyer?). But from now on, I need to be careful with u.
And u r so right on keeping our mouth shut before the pulut binasakan santan. Some things are better kept inside.

Hjh Esah Jolie said... it is.I'm doing 2, with the unconscious...where I have to pint out the obvious...'like perangai kau cam puaka bla bla bla...' and another one with the conscious...' (polite intro)I can see that the whole thing is upsetting you...but honestly bla bla bla..' truth to be told in nicest possible way (that is so not easy)

Ever since, I become so unpopular with my melayu friends...(dah le tak ramai) because I have to tell them what I think.But little that I know (or sememangnya dah lama tau) yg org melayu ini..menyimpan dalam hati.

Safe choice is to diam ...kutuk dlm hati or tulis dlm blog (macam I) or if this person mean so much to you, 'I appreciate you taking all this trouble to masak-masak...but your laksa taste like paya laa..., my nenek cook better than you.Kalau dia open minded, she will take that as constructive critisism, kalau tak pun, dia ni will send you santau angin.

At my matsalleh frens house, aku dgn muka tak malu nya cakap lauk diorang tak sedap, they happily replied..okay, next time, you cook!!! I have a good reason to be nice when it is not nice, bcos, aku malas nak masak.


Hjh Esah Jolie said...

p/s...honestly, i like yr new layout..but I will suit the gambar-gambar retro you tu. (sambil tercari-cari purdah nak tutup muka and kepala)

Typhoon Sue said...

i used to just shoot my mouth off everytime. but then, with age, came maturity, and with maturity came wisdom. i realised that i tend to lose a lot if i am such a bitch. So, now i reserve my bitchiness to ppl who are bitchy to me or to ppl i generally do not like for whatever reasons.

dgn kawan rapat i tak kisah, belasah aje sbb diaorg dah biasa. yg lain2 kena la tapis sket.

BTW, whaddaya mean "despite being a legal officer" (lawyer actually)? u think all lawyers are bitchy izzit? haiyah.... u ah, we loyars are all very de nice one u know...

ni sorang lagi, dah le mata asyik merayap sana sini, mulut tu plak macam ci***. hahahaha

honestly, i hated the pink layout, but at that time, i malas nak cari design yg bagus2. tgk le, 2, 3 bulan lagi i tukar yg len plak kut, kalau rajin

zhmi said...

Hi Sue,

Personally, I believe that one should give credit only when credit is due. Of course, there are others who don't share this view. Some use flattery as a form of encouragement ("Amboi, pandai betul anak Mak ni masak" can be said to a child who merely prepared a fried egg) while others use flattery as a form of morale booster ("Don't be heartbroken lah; of course you're 10 times prettier than ZD" can be said to a certain Hajah in London).

Come to think of it, flattery, if carried out in a delicate, refined manner, can be a form of art. Sadly, many resort to flattery to advance their own agenda e.g. sycophants and apple polishers. And these people are the ones who give the act/art of flattering a bad name.

tony -stand-up philosopher said...

Hi Sue,
Being tactful is a very skillful art. Not many can do it with finesse. Give comments when they are asked for. If that person is a friend, just share how that dish can be prepared in a different manner and than zoom in on what's lacking originally in that dish. If its a matter of life and death situation, than one has to cruel to be kind.
First time here and thanx for allowing me a comment space.

J.T. said...

Hey Sue

I don't know what I would have done if I were in your place. I think I would have kept quiet and 'suffered' through the meal. I won't tell her that her cooking sucks because that can hurt her feelings. She could have put her best effort into cooking.

However, I will do something about it, if I can.
After a few weeks, I would slip her a trusted recipe of the same dish I have tried and asked her if she would be interested in attempting it and have another get together. hehe
(that is a chance I will take in case she prefers to go back to her 'own recipe').

Typhoon Sue said...

suck-ups are somethings else altogether. i'm not gotta go there. i'm talking about faking it. there's nothing to gain by undeserving praise, not for either party. it's just being bermuka-muka, as we say it in malay. i don't like those ppl.

if i cook something for my mom, i would be very proud to have her eat it (i don't cook all that well either, that's why), but she would always say, "kalau masuk jintan putih sikit, lagi sedap" or something like that. THAT, always annoy me big time. Oh, so what I've cooked ni tak sedap le, is that what u're saying?

In other words, there are no correct way of telling her. NADA, unless u're really good friends and u owe it to her to be truthful

That's very thoughtful of you, jacqui. Of course, in a few weeks, she probably would have realised on her own that her cooking on THAT day sucked big time, and may take your handing her the new recipe the wrong way, if she's the sensitive kind la.

J.T. said...

You have a point there too, Sue. It all depends how a person takes it.

NJ said...

I used to be direct when it comes to the situation u were describing here. But as time goes, I learnt to be more tactful. If I were in your case here, I will probably just force myself to eat some then stop, just to be nice thru the act, but no need to be so superficial by complementing the cook and what not.

BTW, I have tagged you for some charity drive. By doing the meme tag we are contributing RM127, via blogger Bro Idham, to the Darul Izzah Orphanage. Pls read my blog for the details.

The Blueberry said...


First of all I gotta take my hats off to your kitchen-allergic friend for having the guts to host someone and not just serve them biskut from the tin or cake from Secret Recipe. Cos I'm allergic to kitchens too and that's what I'd do (serve cakes from Secret Recipe).

Personally, if I were in ths position, and since she had gone so far as to take this effort (a pretty brave one), I think some credit is due. Which means that kalau tak sedap tu I will not kutuk her or say things that will hurt. Maybe I will be tactful and privately tell her that the laksa has lots of room for improvements. Tapi I will not be such a hypocrite and give gushing rave reviews despite the thing tasting like air paya. That wouldn't be unfair to the cook also, sebab nanti dia syok sendiri and she will not know her weakness and will never be able to improve herself.

BTW even though I'm allergic to kitchens, my laksa penang is quite palatable TQVM (heheheheeeeeee puji diri sendiri tahap cipan)....