How to interpret ‘best ever’ comments

A writing colleague who I’ve known for approximately eight years told
me that a short story I started reading in our Tuesday Writer’s Group
last week was the best writing she’d heard in the eight years from me.

It’s always difficult to know how to take comments such as that
(everything else I’ve written in those 8 years? chazzerai?) but I take
them as compliments, and a suggestion I am improving. There’s another
member of the group who once told me a poem I wrote when I was 6 was
my best poem ever, and there’s really no way to interpret that well.
I don’t think he meant the compliment the way it came out, but I
haven’t let him forget he said it. That’s what friends are for, and
when you spend four hours a week in shared interest with people over a
period of several years, you become friends. (Sometimes it takes less
time.)

Anyway, I will read the conclusion of the short story tonight, and
we’ll see if everyone thinks the ending holds up to the promise of the
beginning.

0 thoughts on “How to interpret ‘best ever’ comments

  1. DL

    What was the “best ever ‘best ever'” comment that you received? Ah,, only you would have heard them all! Can you imagine someone who has never heard a “best ever” comment — or never made one?

    “That was the best ever nap I took, or the one that took me.”

    “That was the best ever sex — or sex show –“, something every partner wants to hear, if not to say, not to admit to you.

    And, of course, there is the inverse — you knew it was coming, didn’t you? The “worst ever” comments you give or take — though few are honest to say it, except when they are looking for a fight, a provocation, and not a provocative (pro – vocalisms).

    I think the superlative and the hyperbolative is something we feel compelled to use — sparingly — and the worst ever thing about that, the best ever thing about it,
    is that if it is used too often, too much, we ignore it or we are ignored in our using it.

    I’d say this speech is on the law of expectations, and of what it takes to rise above or fall below yourself, as others see you, or you see them. Exceptionalism — its hard to be make every new day, every new time so much more exceptional than it was last time; even if it is new, it is not novel.

  2. DL

    Time. I left out time. It’s all over the place, even in my use of the term “sparingly”. It’s there in the “ever”, ever lurking.

    Time of the year — coming soon — the rites of celebrating the best and the worst ever of 2005 CE. The best sellers (books and films), the best whatevers, and, less common, the worst mistakes, the biggest boobs (well, let’s make sure which kind of boob we mean before we say biggest here), and so on.

    Time and the other (a Levinas item) — read it if you want a laugh, or if you want to cry. It doesn’t ever matter unless you feel something about the time.

  3. DL

    One of my grandfathers was anti-religious (he was the son of a Quaker preacher — go figure)…

    After prayers at a meal, which he always tolerated from his grand-children, he’d always clap mightily — and say “Let’s eat!” loudly. The meals were always excellent, the way farm meals used to be, laced in fats and salts. He lived to be a few days short of 90. I think his attitude toward life was that every day was worth living but you had to be determined to go out there and get something done every day. And, while he was a simple man, in dress, he did have strong views, which he never wasted much time explaining — just told you what he thought, tersely, if you’d ask his opinion, and that was that. And, then he’d spit a chaw of tobacco out, and go back to reading the local paper or some news magazine — or watching some (my view) silly-ass sports program, like wrestling. (I don’t think he cared that is was fake, it was just the outrageousness of the characters in the ring — kind of like a version of Dadaism.)

    May he rest in peace, as well!

  4. DL

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/05/opinion/05mon3.html?th&emc=th
    ———————————–

    Know Your K-Times today
    EDITORIAL OBSERVER
    The Month When Our Culture Collapses Into a Pile of Preferences
    By VERLYN KLINKENBORG
    December is the season of lists, when the enormous construct of our culture collapses into a pile of top tens, top dozens and top hundreds.

    AS I SAID, TIS THE CHRISTIAN SEASON OF BEST EVER, BUT, NOTE, AFTER THEY HAVE GONE OUT AND SPENT THEMSELVES SILLY — HAVING LITTLE MONEY OR, MORE OFTEN, CREDIT LEFT TO GO OUT AND BUY ANYTHING THAT EVEN REMOTELY RESEMBLES THE BEST EVER SO BELATEDLY IDENTIFIED AFTER CHRISTMAS…