Hard Working Americans – "Throwing the Goats" (2016)


As he was dynamite fishing

For some compliments

Off the banks of old Lake Providence

Have you heard the expression “fishing for compliments”?

When you fish for compliments, you say something modest and self-deprecating about yourself in hopes that your listener will disagree and say something complimentary about you.

Women are much better at doing this than men, but I like to think that I can hold my own when it comes to fishing for compliments . . . as a recent e-mail exchange with a very special fan of 2 or 3 lines demonstrated.

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I have a pretty high opinion of 2 or 3 lines, but I’m not completely deluded when it comes to my wildly successful little blog.

So I was pleasantly surprised when a friend of mine shared an e-mail she had sent to the editor of a magazine that urged said editor to publish a feature story about 2 or 3 lines in said magazine.

She told the editor that I was “amazingly prolific,” “articulate,” and “an indefatigable researcher,” and described 2 or 3 lines as “quite remarkable.”

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I was touched by her gesture – it was very nice of her to go to so much effort on my behalf.

But what really stunned me was that someone as smart and talented as my friend really believed what she had wrote about 2 or 3 lines.

I e-mailed her to thank her for her letter to the magazine editor, but also expressing doubt that 2 or 3 lines really deserved all the compliments she had paid to it.  (I like to think that I’ve published some very good posts, but I’m self-aware enough to know that the quality of 2 or 3 lines is very uneven.  A lot of my posts are just meh – I’m basically pretty lazy, and sometimes I just phone it in rather than putting my best effort into a post.)

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Here’s what my friend e-mailed me in response to what a cynic would describe as fishing for compliments on my part:

What you have done is AMAZING!  And you will never convince anyone that you are lazy – you, like many of the greats, are more compulsively creative.  I have many artist friends who would give anything to be like you. Your oeuvre is dazzling.

You're the most impressive creative person I've met in years!

Please believe me – your blog is fabulous!!!

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It’s shameless of me to toot my own horn by quoting what my friend’s e-mail.  Deep down inside, I don’t believe for a minute that I am worthy of her comments.  

But it appears that she was being 100% sincere – which blows me away.

I can’t express in words how good her e-mail made me feel.  Having felt that feeling once, I want to feel it over and over.  So I’ve decided to exploit my friend's kindness by fishing for compliments from her on a regular basis.

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So far, my strategy is working beautifully!  For example, here’s a recent exchange of e-mails between us:

Me: Can you look at the photo attached to this e-mail and tell me if you think that the pants I am wearing make me look fat?

Her: Not at all – you look great in those pants!

Me: You really think so?  I feel like I look fat in these pants.  Are you sure you're not saying I don't look fat just to make me feel good?

Her: What you look like in those pants is AMAZING!  You will never convince anyone that you look fat in those pants – I have many friends who would give anything to look the way you look in those pants!  You're the most impressive-looking pants-wearing person I've met in years!  

Me: Do you really mean that?


Me: OK . . . if you're sure.

Her: Please believe me – your ass looks fabulous!!!

I’ve also fished for compliments from her about my tennis game (“Your two-hand backhand is AMAZING!”), my fashion sensibility (“The color palette of your collection of polo shirts is dazzling!”), and my knowledge of the rules of basketball (“Please believe me – your understanding of what is and is not a correctable error is fabulous!!!”)

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The Hard Working Americans are often described as a rock “supergroup.”

I’m reserving judgment on whether I concur in that appellation until I become better acquainted with their entire body of work.  

But my friend is all in: “What this group has done is AMAZING,” she once told me. “Their oeuvre is dazzling!”  

Click here to listen to “Throwing the Goats,” which was released in 2016 on the Hard Working Americans’ Rest in Chaos album.

Click on the link below to buy that recording from Amazon:

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