Thursday, May 17, 2012

You Have Lovely Eyes But I’m Not Expecting Sex

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
wasn’t expecting.

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.



Rol said...

That's all very well, Steve, but let me ask you this...

If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?

Steve said...

Rol: I'd oil it up and rub it into your face, mate, and you know it.

the fly in the web said...

One knows where one is with you Steve...nothing left to ambiguity.

Steve said...

The fly in the web: I like to wear my cynicism on my sleeve.

John Going Gently said...

what's that?
chance would be a fine thing!

Steve said...

John: I believe it's something done by the young, foolish and hormonal...

Unknown said...

Oh , flirting! Best sport EVER! (yes, I'm rather foolish, young and hormonal - so what?) ; )

Steve said...

Hannah: you know I'm just envious.

About Last Weekend said...

So the eyes mean the arrr...or is that just lost in translation over the pond.

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

I'm not a feminist per se, but obviously believe strongly in equal rights etc... however, I really don't have an issue with a man saying something complimentary to me.

I don't feel compelled to knee someone in the nether region because they said I had a nice smile, why would I? People's body language, tone of voice etc work with them in this instance. As a woman you can tell who's just being nice and who's a slimeball a mile off.

A bit of innocent flirting goes a long way, and ... both ways.

Gorilla Bananas said...

It all depends on the woman, doesn't it? Some enjoy such compliments, others feel uncomfortable. Have you ever looked into a female gorilla's eyes? The man who can flirt with a female gorilla has earned the right to flirt with females of his own species.

Wanderlust said...

What? So when the postman asked me to help him out and hold his package he was...flirting? Totally missed that.

Being Me said...

I believe it's a mutual attraction thing. I'd like to think most of us are pretty cluey and what is not acceptable to one person might be ok (even unnoticed) by someone else.

I don't agree that someone who says you have lovely eyes deep down wants to nail you. But there's complimenting and then there's complimenting...with added extra connotation right behind it, just unsaid. For the clued-in amongst us, you can hear it easily.

I say, bring back the chivalrous mild and harmless compliments. This whole world is turning beige and bland, with everyone jumping on top of everything (and I'm not talking about sex here! but word-play as you will.... ;-) and making those who like to bring a little colour and depth out to be the culprits. Ahem. Have I made any sense whatsoever? Off soap-box now.

You bring up so many points I find I can't write to them all! But I did want to...

Katriina said...

My husband likes to remind me periodically that where matters of SEX are concerned, all men are pigs and cannot be trusted. But what if we all just accept that as a fact and move on? Couldn't Ms Lovely Eyes have just pulled out a line like "Down boy!" or (shock) even just said "Aw, thanks" and walked away?

Unknown said...

You've nothing to envy. I love the 'word' play - just that, no sexual intentions...been going around word playing some time without realisation... until informed I was a flirt (apparently negative feedback) - why English are known for being 'conservative'. ; )

Steve said...

About Last Weekend: no, I think this old boy was genuinely impressed with her eyes.

Very Bored In Catalunya: it's knowing where the draw the line, isn't it? Good flirters know where to draw it.

Gorilla Bananas: I have never flirted with a female gorilla. Neither have most men. Rendering most of us unworthy to flirt with the females of our own species.

Wanderlust: it depends very much on the size of the package.

Being Me: mutual attraction - on various levels - is always keys. The problem with bad flirters is that they don't read the negative signals they're getting back. You know, I really think flirting should be taught at school. It's a social skill. And a very necessary one.

Katriina: a much more appropriate response, I agree. Mr Contractor was hardly being coarse or a pig about things.

Hannah: conservative? I think we're as coarse and lascivious as the French or the Italians a lot of the time. We're just less honest about it.

Unknown said...

haha yeah, that's true, although it still comes down to conservative upbringing if not thinking :) (I love it, truly I do!)

Nota Bene said...

I'm firmly of the view that we should all be entitled to complement other human beings of either sex...and equally we should be entitled to insult other people too

Steve said...

Hannah: I think conservatism just makes people rebel even more.

Nota Bene: I agree. And we should especially have license to insult those who have power over us.

libby said...

Flirting is fun and makes the world go round, IF the flirter and the flirtee are happy to so indulge. Women can smell sleazy bastards a mile off..even old codgers flirt in a sleazy way sometimes....but a compliment and a smile or a double entendre that makes BOTH people giggle are fun and can sometimes brighten a boring day. This makes me think of When Harry met Sally.....

Steve said...

Libby: if only we could all have what they had.

AGuidingLife said...

I think it depends on when he said it. Over general chit chat then fine but if I was part way through a technical conversation I wouldn't hear 'compliment', I would hear 'I'm not listening to you and I'm going to undermine what you are saying with a sexist comment aimed to put you at an unequal and awkward place' . Context is everything. Whether your contractor had harmless fun or was a sexist pig that can't cope with intelligent women in the workplace and uses ths sort of comment to dig at them depends entirely on the context. I have received both approaches an am comfortable with the compliment and would complain about the sexist idiot.

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: knowing the contractor at hand I'd put my money on well meant compliment that rebounded off someone who just not at all receptive. But... I wasn't there. The woman complained and the man got a ticking off. A little more care all round is never a bad thing.

Owen said...

One wonders what Shakespeare would have said in the circumstances ?

Seems much romance hath left this piteous world...

Ok, I agree, men should not harass women, but if man had not been saying over the past few hundred thousand years in one way or another to woman that she has beautiful eyes, and woman then batting coquettishly the complimented organs, the human race probably would have gone extinct long ago...

Steve said...

Owen: we are just carrying out our biological duty! Answering the genetic imperative!

Seems much romance hath left this piteous world...!

MommyHeadache said...

"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." Even though it's a sad fact it's still a fact. The trouble comes in the sense that men and women are biologically so unequal. I bet most men spend their whole lives not getting a single comment from a stange lady about 'hey, I like the shape of your butt' or 'did anyone ever tell you you have George Clooney's eyebrows?' so they desperately crave that sort of comment from the ladies. Whereas we girls hear this stuff from men from the age of 12 so we tend to find it annoying.

I think any women reading your blog today should take time out today to go tell some random stranger they like the cut of his jib. I come to think of it that could be see how difficult it is for us ladies to pay compliments without being chased like in a Benny Hill farce with silly music??

Steve said...

Emma: I like your take on it. And you're quite right, I'd love a woman to stop me in the street and tell me that I have a great piece of ass.