A few recent thoughts triggered by Joe Biden’s problems

At my age I don’t have many “Aha!” moments anymore. Like the time when I was ten and my mom came home from the hospital with my new sister and I asked her how the operation went. My mom gave me an ‘Ahem’ look.  It was like hitting three cherries on a slot machine…a whole cascade of insights fell into my lap. Of course. Tribes living in rain forests didn’t have hospitals…and the symmetry of what goes in must come out. It all fell into place. Another box in my sex education check list got filled in an instant. I’ve never completed a test so fast, nor was I so embarrassed by the answer.

So, you can imagine my surprise 65 years later when I got another of those, now called, ‘Duh?!’ looks from an attractive African American waitress. All I did was tell her she had lovely eyes…which she did. It’s amazing how much information you can process in a flash. For instance—her look said, what right do you have to comment on how I look? Who appointed you the commenter-in-chief for the world, like you were conducting auditions for a commercial?

I found myself getting all defensive. Hey, I wanted to say, I’m not a dirty old man. Just because old fart movie stars can have women half their age drooping cleavage all over their arms, doesn’t mean all us guys are like that. I mean, look at the gray hair, the age spots. Give me a pass here. Doesn’t there come a time when a guy can just enjoy the beauty all around him and notice and affirm…offer grampa verbal hugs?

Okay, maybe I don’t comment to everybody. I do monitor my inner and outer voice…not like some friends I know who start talking out loud in the grocery line. I don’t go around telling guys they have nice eyes. I don’t want to get a black eye. But damn it, women do it all the time with other women…drop compliments, that is. ‘Nice hair!’ ’Cute shoes!’ ‘You look great!’ Why can’t I do that with a woman? With this woman?

I was in Durham in the middle of Tar Heel country and the young lady looked like a student. The professor in me felt a lecture coming on—survival of the species requires male attraction to women of child bearing age. If young males were only attracted to gray-haired women, where would we be population wise? Necessary as they may be during reproductive years, our hard-wired selection instincts tend to perdure, if only in our fantasies.

As the young lady fiddled with my bill, another thought bubbled up—maybe I come across more studly than I realize. Hah! Or more likely, I think any women my daughter’s ages will appreciate the kind of regular compliments I throw their way when I’m impressed by their youth and beauty or new dress or hairdo. Maybe a woman…most women…are not my daughters and I’m not the Pope admiring their charms from a celibate mountain top. Okay. And maybe comments about women’s appearance is all about social context. I’m very careful about talking to a child without a parent in sight…talking to strangers and all that. And I’m careful not to tell little girls that they look pretty as if life is a Miss Universe Pageant. Have to be socially appropriate.

So, when the pretty waitress hands me the tab and smiles professionally, I get the message…keep it simple, old man. Say it with a tip, if you must.

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