One day about three years ago every woman in the world woke up and decided that I was no longer worth a second look. Or even, for that matter, a first glance.
It seemed to happen just like that. I would pass women on the avenue and once, where they might have given me the sidelong glance – maybe even venture a smile – and even on some occasions they gave me the return turn-around, now they would sail on by with nary an eye my way. I had suddenly become invisible.
The strange thing is that I have never given a thought to this situation until tonight when, in the wake of a dear dear friends’ passing, I was looking back over my life – especially my life relative to the fairer sex.
I knew by the reactions of women that at one time I was a fairly attractive example of the male species. I could smile at a passing woman and, more often than not, my smile was understood as a gesture of appreciation of feminine beauty and would be returned. The women seemed to intuit that my smile was just that – a smile – nothing more. I was not trying to pick them up and they knew it. I was, however, a wonderful flirt. And since my body language signaled that I was going to keep on walking, as opposed to stopping and trying to buttonhole them and chat them up like some strange creep, women seemed to be unafraid to return my smile. I would flirt and make women laugh on a bus, in the market or while on line in places like the Post Office.
Alas, this is now seldom the case. Very seldom. And, knowing that I am now somewhat of a senior citizen and, quite aware of this fact, these days it is an exception when I allow myself that flirtatious smile. I guess I feel it would be well, creepy. And, on those rare occasions when I do allow myself that smile, it usually goes completely unnoticed. Mind you, in the market, or on line waiting for a bus or what have you, I will still banter with strangers at the drop of a hat though – since I find so much of our existence to be funny – and often these strangers happen to be women. It gratifies me to know that in these people-thrown-together circumstances I can still make a strange woman smile – even laugh. Yes – I confess that I love women and have always enjoyed their company. My life has been enriched by the many wonderful women I treasure as dear friends to this day.
So yes, I have smiled at a passing woman a few times in the time since that day I became invisible – sometimes because of a lovely dress she’s wearing, or a cute puppy she’s walking, and sometimes my smile has been returned but, for the most part, those times – and the times when I amuse by saying something appreciated as witty – are exceptions to my invisibility.
In the apartment buildings I have lived in I was always greeted warmly by the female residents whenever we had an encounter…in the laundry room, at the mail boxes, in the elevator….there was always pleasant small talk, laughing, and, sometimes a dinner invitation which, on quite a few occasions, led to an affair. Now all pretty much sweet – but unrepeatable – memories.
The thing is, I am not actually saddened by this. I am merely making an observation. Though I have male friends my age who are greatly disturbed by it, I see it as a natural thing – growing old and thereby being less attractive to the opposite sex. And perhaps “less attractive” is an understatement. Rather than being unhappy about this turn of events I am simply stating the way it now is.
Don’t cry for me Argentina, I have certainly had my share of wonderful moments with the ladies. I am just marveling at how fast the switch gets turned to the “off” position and one is no longer an object of desire. It seemed to happen overnight. I believe I am still somewhat attractive to the women who know me – and this is a fine distinction – I’m just no longer attractive to the women who do not know me – to the women who pass me on the street, to that alluring woman in the restaurant to whom I could have, and once would have, sent over a cocktail.
C’est la vie Archie eh?
C D cover picture of the author (an ex-incorrigible flirt) taken in 2007.
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