Nancy Roman

Criticism: The Doggy Bag

I hate Criticism.

Doesn’t everyone?

Constructive or destructive – don’t tell ME what you don’t like about me! I don’t want to hear it.


Over the years, I have discovered that I can kind of do Criticism if I just take my time. Let it slowly work its way into my consciousness. Criticism has a big barrier of Defensiveness that it must climb its way over. And it can’t do that it one big leap. It has to inch itself up one toenail at a time.

Of course, now I have created this Criticism-Toes-In-The-Crevice analogy that was not really the one I wanted to use. But don’t criticize me, okay?

Here’s the analogy for accepting Criticism that I prefer:

The Doggy Bag of Criticism.

I think of Criticism like some leftovers from a restaurant.

Say you are in the restaurant and your food is really late in getting to the table. The chef feels a little bad that the kitchen is so backed up, so he has the waiter bring you an appetizer on the house.

But you didn’t order this appetizer. And it doesn’t even particularly appeal to you.

And you don’t want to spoil your appetite for when you finally get your main course. And you are even a bit afraid that the appetizer might contain something you’re allergic to. You’re suspicious.

This could make you sick. This could kill you.

You think it looks a bit like an oyster sitting on a yellow mushroom with a topping that looks a bit like peanut-butter-and-jelly.


This uninvited offering sits on the table. It’s there. It’s not going away. But you are trying really hard not to look at it.

But it’s food. And it was free. And you don’t want to be rude.

Thankfully, your Real Food arrives.

Being a nice person, you don’t want to tell the waiter to take away the unbidden piece of shit gift. So you ask for a doggy bag  – telling the waiter very nicely that you’ll save that delicious-looking amuse-bouche for tomorrow.

So you bring it home. Luckily, it is wrapped in aluminum foil, so you don’t really have to look at it at all. But you can’t really bring yourself to throw it away either. So you put it in the freezer.

And about a month later, as you rummage through the freezer for the pound cake you hid from your spouse, you come upon this aluminum foil packet, and you’re not even sure what it is. So you unwrap it.

And there it is. That oyster/mushroom/pb&j thing. Frozen, it doesn’t look quite so bad. But you’ve recently been a little worried about aluminum foil and whether it causes dementia – even though that idea is probably demented in itself. So although you don’t really want to eat that tidbit right now, you don’t wrap it back into the questionable foil; you put it into a little baggie. That way you can see what it is without having to take it out and examine it.

And for the next two months or so, every time you open the freezer, there’s that appetizer. You’re getting used to seeing it. It’s actually looking pretty harmless. Sometimes you even pick it up. Not that you want to eat it or anything. You just need to make room for the chocolate ice cream.

But then it happens.

You have a craving for a snack, and open the freezer, and the chocolate ice cream is gone. And you pick up that baggie with the little freebie appetizer – which was really given to you as a gesture of kindness.

And you wonder if it would kill you to take a taste.

So you pop it in the microwave. The smell is not awful. In fact, it smells kind of like gruyere cheese.

And you take the teeniest tiniest little bite. It IS cheese. And the PB&J stuff is a kind of tapenade. It’s not so bad.

The thing that looked sort of like a slimy oyster – well, that IS a slimy oyster.

But you know what? It didn’t kill you.

You digested it. That part anyway that you didn’t spit out and toss right down the garbage disposal.

Parts of that appetizer were okay. And you survived the part you didn’t like.

And it nourished you.

It saved you from – well, maybe not a lot – let’s say minor hunger pangs.

And now you know that you can be brave and eat the parts that taste okay, and let them sustain you – while you are still free to discard the stuff that you don’t like.

Just like Criticism.


cheese on crackers2.jpg

Mold or Tapenade? You decide.





  1. Criticism can be helpful, but it is rarely welcomed


    • My first reaction is always – always – to get defensive. But later on, I will consider it.


  2. So Sometimes I call constructive criticism constrictive crudicism.


  3. Yeah, I have to have time to process criticism too. That lets me get over my initial defensiveness and decide if the criticism is actually on point. Or not….


  4. Ellen

    Love your analogy!! Criticism is such a bitter pill to swallow and it is almost impossible not to immediately become defensive. It seems a natural human response when one feels attacked. I think that you are quite correct – take time to look at it from all perspectives, then proceed with caution.


  5. daveyone1

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..


  6. I am constantly criticized by my mil and was getting terribly upset initially. Of late I tend to ignore or just nod my head before her without even listening..


  7. We are our worst critics. One day you don’t like ANYTHING .. but you really do…it just feels good to say you don’t. Like an anti-anything crusade. But in the end we find out that it’s okay to like something. Like your pretend oyster. Good story!


  8. You can learn a lot from constructive criticism. That is the key. Constructive not destructive. I think your leftover scenario is pretty clever.



  1. Criticism: The Doggy Bag — notquiteold – Site Title

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