I received the greatest compliment of my life yesterday when my daughter, Clara, told my wife, “Mommy, thank you for marrying the funnest guy in the whole world.”
I got a little teary hearing those words.
Prior to this, I’d been keeping track of the greatest compliments of my life. Four in all.
On January 1, 1988. I was sixteen years old. I was standing on a bridge in California, strapped to a bass drum, ready to march in the Rose Bowl Parade. Two teenage girls were sitting on the curb nearby, waiting for the parade to start. After giggling a bit, they managed to get my attention and tell me that I looked a lot like Tom Cruise. I was clearly better looking in 1988, the sun was probably in their eyes, and Tom Cruise had not yet lost his mind.
In the summer of 1988, I was spending a week in Weir’s Beach, New Hampshire with a bunch of friends. When not chasing girls and getting sunburned on the beach, we spent a great deal of time at the arcades that were within spitting distance of our cabins.
At the time, our friend Coog was known as the best video game player of our group, and one of the finest gamers of all time. Even today, he’s still our most prolific and experience gamer. But after a week of watching me play old school arcade games like Dragons Lair and Asteroids, my roommate Tom said to me, “Matty, if you and Coog started playing the same game on the same day, Coog would beat you every time. But if I gave you both a week to practice, I’d put my money down on you every time.”
For a long time, this was the best compliment that I had ever received.
In 2008 Elysha and I were sitting in the doctor’s office, listening to the doctor explain a complicated procedure that I would be undergoing. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but in the middle of her explanation, I made an exceptionally honest, somewhat surprising, slightly inappropriate comment about myself and the process that we were discussing.
The doctor looked at me, clearly unsure of what to think.
After a moment, Elysha jumped in and said, “Doctor, my husband is the most authentic person you will ever meet.”
Until Clara’s words yesterday, this was the greatest compliment of my life.
In 2012, I overheard one student say to another student:
“Mr. Dicks isn’t the kind of guy who says something and doesn’t do it. He only says what he means. Even if it sounds crazy.”
I could’ve done without that third sentence, but it was still pretty good.