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Exit the Red-Blooded Woman?

I have become a wimp.

Last night – after seeing the latest Almodovar – the darkly brilliant julieta which you should not miss – friends and I went to a local restaurant – I sat opposite the two of them – and shortly after we arrived a lone man came and sat at the table behind them – he was facing towards me – a lone man (I reiterate) – rather good looking – considerably younger than me – and about whom I thought nothing.

And then, as our evening progressed I realised that said man was staring through the gap between my friends’ shoulders (if you follow) and staring and staring and staring – at me.  No – I was not being wishful – for just once – when our eyes met – he raised his glass – and what, dear friends, did I do?  Quickly slid my eyes away from him and kept them firmly on my friends from that moment on.  But I was aware that the staring continued.

I began to weave scenarios in my head (while conducting a perfectly lucid conversation with my friends who knew nothing of this, the feminine brain being capable of multitasking when fired up) – and decided that he was a newly dumped or divorced man, or had had a row with his wife or girlfriend – or he was here working and away from home and thought he’d have a bit of fun.  I promise you he was far too attractive to be a loner – and very well turned out – yes, all right – I had even noticed his shirt – and he wanted to connect with someone female – even someone older who was female – well – maybe not that much older, or maybe the lighting was dim enough for me to drop ten years – and the viewing platform he had was too good an opportunity to miss.

I was clearly single.  Or at any rate, single that night.  And I was in his direct sight.  He was feeling a bit reckless and pursued the possible connection – I hesitate to call it a flirtation, though probably, thinking about it, it was one – or it would have been if the silly woman sitting opposite and in his direct sight had shown a bit of interest.  He left before we did.  We were having a fairly intense and funny discussion about something – possibly Almodovar and possibly kitchens (yes, I’m still at the coal face of that latter and it is not going well) and when I looked up – he had gone.  Oh, I thought, Oh what a pity.  Silly goose (and other, less seemly epithets).

So this morning I’m suffering from mild regret for not taking up the opportunity, but also from a quite serious concern about my confidence.  What has happened to me and where has the red-blooded woman who enjoyed men’s company now fled?  I never was very good at initiating flirting – and I used to find the ‘eyes meeting and across the gangway’ in the tube slightly embarrassing rather than a turn-on – but crank me up a bit and I can usually enjoy doing all the things that raise an interest and move the other person to a square a bit nearer on the board of romance.  But not now, apparently.  And I love a bit of a flirt.  Or I did.

Ah well – it’s good to be alerted to the fact that I’ve lost the art of encouraging dalliance.  It wasn’t so many years ago that I sat having a coffee on the balcony of the Louvre’s cafe (as you do, and not often enough) and a man – this one considerably older than me – made a politely flirtatious gambit which was delightful, and received by me with delight.  We had a pleasant afternoon – Frenchmen being charming and – without doubt – the best seducers in the world even if you don’t end up in bed together.

So – what has happened to me and my interest in enjoying a bit of coquetry during the few years in between?  I’m really not certain – but sure as eggs is eggs – I mean to find out – and correct it.  And what is REALLY annoying about all this is that, were I to put it in a book, you can be sure that the heroine would at least make it to that nearer square on the board – even if she comes a cropper later on.  The Cheek heroine is, largely, brave – and if not brave – then she is confident – and if not confident then she is wily.  Perhaps I should re-read some of my novels to remind myself how to get back into the mode?   And stay there.

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