If folks have said nice things about me, well I don’t really recall any. I mean, who says nice things to someone’s face other than a loved one. Honestly, when I have received a compliment in public what I recall is that it made me feel awkward.
There was a time in my career where I was often called upon to give talks. During those times someone would introduce me and say lots of flowery things about my accomplishments and education. I didn’t like those, either. In fact, it got pretty old and I eventually gave whoever was introducing me a written introduction to read. It was prepared, short, and not so ingratiating.
Last week, during an archery tournament, I was shooting with three kids. There were enough older archers competing that I’d been bumped down the line and was on a target with kids younger than my children. Two of them were in college and one was still in high school.
Archery is a big equalizer among sport disciplines. Age isn’t a major factor when it comes to skill. I mean, if I’d been competing against similarly skilled athletes in, say running a mile, a high school aged track star and two college track runners they would smoke me. But, in archery it is another matter.
At that tournament, at 3-spot, a professional shot 118 Xs out of 120 arrows. His was the top score. (He’s younger, at 41, than my oldest daughter.) The next best score came from a 15 year-old clearing 116 Xs. Back to my target.
Of the four of us, the high school student was shooting the best. I’d changed bows the day before and had finally gotten it sighted and was shooting Xs. On one end I shot two Xs and a nine. The next end was three Xs. Then, I repeated the sequence.
That’s when the high school student said to the college students, “That’s how an old pro does it!” He wasn’t saying it to me directly, he was providing evidence to the other two students. It cracked me up. (I laughed on the inside rather that risk embarrassing anyone and said nothing.)
I don’t know if the speaker had intended me to overhear. It wasn’t spoken loudly; more told in a tilted head conspirator softness. But, I heard it. The speaker may have figured because I’m old my hearing isn’t so good.
At first, the word that grabbed me was “old.” But, compared to them, I’m old. Generally, it was a compliment. And as I said, it cracked me up.