A forbidden adjective?

I was leaving the court building a couple of days ago and ran into a woman I vaguely know who was waiting for an elevator. She was dressed in a vibrantly-colored outfit and somehow just looked extremely fine. The actual word that popped into my mind was “scrumptious”. I was about to compliment her using that word, then somehow stopped myself, perhaps on a “Nowadays, you can’t be too careful….” theory.

On my drive home I mulled over whether I was being overly cautious in refraining from using it as a compliment. So when I got home, I posted a query about it on my Facebook page. Responses (four of them – 2 men and 2 women) were unanimously (and categorically) critical of that as a “compliment”. OK, then, I surmised, I probably avoided an unpleasant reaction from a badly framed pleasantry.

Here’s the rub, though: I don’t think I’d like the sort of woman who was (for lack of a better word), prickly enough to be offended by such a comment. Assuming the remark wasn’t presented as an innuendo-laden invitation for sex (obviously, delivery is important), I still think the remark is pretty innocuous.

The kind of woman I’d like to meet might find it inelegant (or clumsy, or silly) but would nonetheless see it was intended as a compliment in the true sense and not a sexist put-down. She’d be cool enough to roll with it to take it in stride.┬áThe silver lining to this little quandary might well be that I’ve come up with a useful screening device for future social encounters with attractive women. If the discussion survives the compliment, I may well be on to something.

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