I don’t know if I’m the only one who’s noticed this, but it seems to me that Czech women don’t know how to accept compliments. You make a compliment and they don’t know what to do with it. They either try to downplay your praise in an attempt to show modesty, or they start explaining how they achieved whatever it is you’re praising, or they just change the subject.
I’m not one to throw compliments around, but it just so happened that I have complimented three women this past week. Not to be “nice” or to make conversation. My compliments were sincere and the words of praise came out of my mouth in real admiration. It struck me that all these women somehow avoided dealing with the compliment.
Last Friday, a girl at a class I go to showed up with a new hair color, one that I thought looked great on her. I noticed her as soon as I entered the room and I said, “Nice hair color!” She gave a flattered smile and said, “Oh, it’s just a color shampoo. It’ll wash out.” I continued, “Well, the color looks really good on you.” She answered with an apologetic expression on her face, “It’s supposed to last for about a week but my hair is so weird, I don’t need to wash it very often, so the color will probably stay in forever.”
A few days ago, I had lunch with a friend whom I hadn’t seen for several months. I thought she looked particularly good on that day. Her hair was done and had flattering highlights in it and her face had a healthy tan. As I sat down, I commented on her looks by saying, “You look nice today, the hair, the tan…”. “I went to the hairdresser,” she explained. “And the tan is probably still left from the vacation,” she added pragmatically. “Probably. Anyway, you look really good,” I repeated. My friend changed the subject. “So how have you been?”
On Saturday, I went to see a play with a friend of mine and her husband. My friend turned up in a beautiful red blouse, which looked just perfect against her blonde hair. I couldn’t help exclaiming, “Wow, what a great blouse!” She smiled, turned to her husband and told him, “See, and you’re wearing these horrible pants.”