Tess Armstrong. Radio girl, music fan and reviewer, talker, do-er of things, positive thinker.
Hello! We’re from Aus too. Trying to remember the address and will let you know when I can :)
Can you take a compliment? I can’t. To be fair, my compli-radar has been a bit off ever since a girl at school teased me for ‘loving my family too much’ and in older years I still find it hard to detect if I’m being insulted or praised.
Here’s how my recent experience went for the lovely person who threw me a compliment:
Them- “Oh Tess you’re SUCH an old soul”
Tess- “Oh…wow, Ta.”
*** IN MY HEAD ***
Them- “Oh Tess, you’re SUCH an old soul”
Oh that’s grea…. Hang on. Is that a good thing? Does she mean I’m adorbs like an old lady or that I’m BORING… and SMELLY?! Oh no… Does she know about the war book in my handbag? Do I have to say a vicious sounding swear to sound tough now?!? Did I just use the term “SAY A SWEAR”? Oh gosh I really am an old lady…. Do I need to go to more clubs? I just don’t know what to do with my hands when I’m dancing. Do I need more make up?!?!! BUT WHAT ABOUT MY SENSITIVE SKIN??! Do I need to raise the hem of this skirt from ankle to bum? FIDDLESTICKS.
Tess- “Oh, wow, Ta.”
Was it a compliment or a compli-NOT?! Usually we have ‘no offense, but…’ to alert us that a backhander is coming our way but not all compli-nots are easily identifiable.
I get called an old soul on a semi-regular basis. I’m starting to realise it’s probably an alright thing and I have sixty years to get REALLY good at. It could mean I have good morals and a classic style. It could also mean I get confused between Katsup and Ketchup and should be re-tested for a driver’s license.
I often wonder what gives it away. Is it the bingo guide on my wall from a lovely weekend playing lawn bowls and bingo being fed tea and cake to ‘fatten up” in Mallacoota? It is my tea sets? It is the crossword books? My patchwork quilts? Faux-fur sweaters? Not wanting to show too much skin in case my milky tones burn the retinas of strangers and cause inconvenience?
I began to realise I just can’t hack a compliment. If someone says I have beautiful eyes, I’ll wonder what’s wrong with my eyebrows. In desperation, I took the idea of compli-nots to the brains trust aka social media.
Soon I was warm with comfort and had made two miraculous discoveries
1) Lots of people can’t hack compliments
2) There are people in this world seriously deficient at giving them
Compli-nots ranged from being told you look ‘smart’, grown men being told they’re ‘cute’, girls being praised for their rare appetites, someone telling you they would NEVER wear what you wear, being told you’ve got a “small jaw that at least wouldn’t get in the way”, “you remind me of a crazy person”, being pretty for a single girl, being praised for the life lines aka visible wrinkles when you’re only 23 or being told you look/are JUST like that TV/Movie star you don’t find attractive or endearing in any way.
One lass at 17 was told by a teacher she would make the perfect Aryan woman. It was then followed up with a smile and the compli-not, “You have flat feet, child bearing hips and you don’t wear much jewellery.” So she’s a flat-footed, no-fuss, Nazi breeder. Awesome.
In the interest of living a happy life I’ve decided a new approach. STARTING RIGHT NOW. Coming out of Melbourne Central Station the other week, I did what all paid-up users do and touched off my MYKI. Seems normal enough however according to a MYKI official who rushed to my side, I did it BETTER than everyone else.
He said my technique was perfect. I did it perfectly, guys. It was 10/10. I’m the ultimate myki toucher off-erer. I am flawless. I finally could make an Olympic team once MYKI-Touch-Offs become an official thing. Maybe I’ll get a star in LA. Will hard working Aussies get a public holiday in my honour?! Will they ask me to co-host a morning show?! Perhaps my people (that’s you) will encourage me to run for parliament and then I’ll be the PM and I can give benefits to other people who excel in everyday activities. Oh this life is going to be sweet.
*** IN MY HEAD***
No offense, but… that’s not even good and yesterday you couldn’t get the thing to work and you had to ask for help and the people would have thought you were a bit special and then you talked heaps to try and make up for the inconvenience of asking for their help so if you even MADE the team you’d make it to the Olympics and the whole world would be watching and then you’d totally stuff it up and come home and be shamed and then your management would tell you to go on Dancing With The Stars and you would but then you’d lose because you can’t dance so you wouldn’t even make it and then you’d have to write a book about it and then the book wouldn’t sell because you’re not even a writer and everyone will just hate you… just go back to crosswords oldie.
In March, I became an auntie to baby Louis for the first time. I had no idea of gender and still no idea who this little gorgeous gem will grow up to be but I do have plenty of time to be his person to go to.
So with that out of the way, we were hit with the news that in January my brother and his wife will have their first baby. No idea of gender but once again I cannot WAIT to be this little person’s person.
I wrote for Bon Vivant about my advice to my future nieces and nephews. I think it’s time to share again.
What to expect when you’re becoming an auntie.
It’s happening again. Pitter patters of tiny, soft feet. Stocking up on novelty baby gifts and a roller coaster of emotions. I’m gonna be an auntie- again!
Now don’t scoff, being an auntie has a great deal of responsibilities. There are costumes for the babies I haven’t found yet, I have to practice walking around with watermelons so I’m allowed to hold them and most of all I have to start thinking about what to say when these grown-up babies come to me for advice. Should I suggest they learn about the world the way I did- by watching The Simpsons?
You see, I’ve never been great with kids. They’re erratic, unpredictable, they cry, they’re SO affected by hunger and once you get them talking you can’t ever shut them up. So they’re essentially… me.
Yet since this new baby will be one of us – “Armstrongs RULE” – I’m quite taken with it already, and before I know who this person will be I’ve decided to write some tips to surviving this crazy world in which we live in. That’s right, new little person; I am your very own Agony Aunt.
There’ll be plenty more where that comes from, little one. I’m apologizing in advance for all the costumes and funny positions I put you in but you are coming into an awesome, funny family who will be absolutely in love with you and always there for you. At the same time, this gives us the right to dress you up as a lobster, a bear, a penguin, a taco…. your cousin Louis and the rest of us will see you in January.