LOS ANGELES—Any forty-something wife and mother who tells you she doesn’t like occasional attention from men is a liar. No matter who she is or where she lives, if she says she is offended by harmless flirtation, she is a teeth-whitening, grey hair-dyeing, water aerobics-attending liar.
If you are shocked, you obviously don’t know many middle-aged women. I mean, Lifetime movies are popular for a reason. It’s true - happily married women enjoy a compliment or flirt when it’s directed at us by a handsome, well-dressed, and intelligent stranger. Such an advance makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. When it happens, we feel a little high, politely decline the advance, say goodbye, and giggle about it with our girlfriends afterward.
I don’t have a ton of experience in this department. Practically date-free my entire high school career; I attracted a few men in college. They wouldn’t take me out in public, but I was allowed to write their thesis statements or iron their clothes in private and that was always a special thrill.
Then I met my husband. He was willing to be seen with me in public places, so naturally I fell in love with the fool. We got married after graduation.
That was pretty much it until a few years ago when men began taking notice of me, mostly because their former prom-queen wives were involved in a different kind of passionate affair – with Krispy Crème. When such men would flirt, I’d laugh and giggle in an innocent, I’ve-still-got-it, never-had-it-before, hope-they-don’t-stalk-me kind of way.
The other night, after a long day folding laundry, waxing my upper lip, and looking for an attorney to go after whoever invented wedge heels, I got a friendship request on Facebook. We’d known each other in college and I’d heard he went to law school. I figured he could tell me whether or not I had a case.
He immediately IM’d me, so we talked for a while and caught up on each other’s personal lives. He politely answered questions about going after shoe companies, with plenty of smiley-face emoticons and LOLs. And then…
Him: Can I take my lawyer’s hat off for a minute and tell you something?
I was ready for some secret “only lawyers know this” knowledge.
Him: You’re very beautiful.
I looked in the mirror and rolled my eyes. My mop of curls was pulled back by a Scrunchie for heaven’s sake, I hadn’t shaved since April, and the drink on my desk was a potent mix of prune juice and green tea. I did not, under any circumstances, look beautiful.
Me: I’m really not. Don’t let my profile picture fool you. It’s a lie wrapped in an enigma. I’m a frazzled mom whose hair is allergic to humidity.
Him: You sell yourself short. I’ve seen you in the grocery store occasionally and I’m always taken with how great you look.
I almost always go to the grocery store wearing sweatpants and a scowl. This guy’s gotta be desperate, I thought.
Him: Wanna meet for a good time?
I smiled and felt good about myself for a moment. It’s always nice when a man, who isn’t legally required to, shows an interest. Let’s face it; the last stranger who was polite to me expected a tip when he returned with my car. But I certainly didn’t need another man in my life. Husband, two kids, and Keith Olbermann were plenty.
Me: Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate it.
Him: Are you alone?
Me: Look, mister, I’m never alone. My kids are always within earshot, arguing over who really won Checkers three hours ago, and Husband is taking a nap before he wakes up and asks me to shave his neck.
After a few minutes, I realized he wasn’t coming back. I was kind of disappointed. He was the only one who took my lawsuit idea seriously.