A friend of mine told how an old workmate of his, hitting retirement age, got himself
into trouble one day whilst carrying out some work he’d been contracted to undertake in a
suite of offices. Apparently he told one of the female workers there that she had “lovely
I must admit my initial reaction was, “there are far worse things he could have said”. My
mate’s reply was, “yeah, he could have told her she was effing dopey”.
I could see this conversation was going nowhere productive fast so I let it drop but
mentally it stayed with me.
Part of me thinks Mr Contractor was plainly of that generation that considered it
normal if not a man’s right to comment positively on a gorgeous filly’s attributes. I’m
sure he meant nothing lascivious about it and imagined himself as being rather charming
and gallant. But another part of me can see the other side of it. He was a stranger to
the office – an outside contractor – and his comments were over familiar and totally
outside the scope of his works... which I’m sure were along the painting and decorating
lines rather than “let me sell the wonderfulness of your own body to you Gok Wan style”.
And old boy or not he cannot fail to have noticed that things have moved on in the world
and people conduct themselves very different these days compared to the Carry On
shenanigans of the 1950’s and 1960’s. He plainly made the girl very uncomfortable and she
complained about it as was her right. And Mr Contractor got the type of dressing down he
Does this scenario sadden you or not though?
Is it sad that we can’t offer free, gratuitous compliments to the people around us? Lord
knows there’s plenty of people around happy to bestow the fruits of their negativity upon
all and sundry at the merest drop of a hat. Why can’t we offer niceties and good wishes?
The trouble is, I suspect, that deep down, such compliments as Mr Contractor was offering
weren’t entirely free and without imposition. Even if he were the most decent upstanding
guy in the world if you peel back the layers of civility and courtesy I’m pretty sure
you’d get down to the dirty little nub at the core.
It’s a sad fact of life that guys tend to not show an interest in a woman unless he, on
some level, fancies her. You might disagree. You might argue. I’ve had this fact of life
told me by several different women who were quite blasé and even accepting of it and I
was hard pressed really to refute their claim. Most men I’ve met have merely replied,
“yeah?” to the accusation in a tone of voice that unmistakably says, “so what?”
So when a man you’ve never met before offers you flowers or smells your hair and asks if
you are or if you aren’t... it’s because deep down he wants to get into your knickers.
He’s looking for the compliment to be well received. He’s looking for that blush response
and a slight coquettishness. Maybe even a giggle and a bit of badinage. He’s looking for
an opening. He’s looking for that little green light which will lead him to imagine that
he is undeniably, irrefutably “in”. He’s still got it. He’s still The Man.
The chances of sex occurring is, of course, for most people absolutely minimal. But it is
sex that is at play undoubtedly.
And in this day and age to do the subliminal sex-thing is bloody dangerous. We, of
course, all know it as flirting.
But you know what? I think flirting should be a privilege of having got to know someone.
I realize context is an issue here and behaviour in a nightclub or a pub is vastly
different to our everyday living and working environments... but on the whole, flirting
should only be done with someone that you’ve already got to know. So you both know how
far you can push it. So you know where the boundaries are. So you are both comfortable
with each other. There needs to already be in place a foundation – an association – that
goes beyond simple caveman boy-girl attraction.
And in this context flirting is fine, healthy and can inject some enjoyment in what is
probably otherwise a very dull day.
If flirting came in a tin is would have the following printed on it: Men! Don’t try this on
strangers, you will merely come off as sleazy.
Flirting still occurs in the modern world but the rules of engagement have changed. And
changed for the better in my opinion.
See, if I tell you that you have lovely eyes I am merely solidifying our friendship. I
don’t want sex of any sort. I just want to buddy you up.
However, if I tell you that you’re effing dopey it’s safe to assume that you are not on
my buddy list at all.