Monday, August 31, 2009

Older Men and Flirting

The other day, I was sitting in a large mall waiting to meet someone. As is normal for me, I was early. I'm always early - it's like a disease :). Anyway, I sat down with a coffee to wait for this person, my laptop open on the table (also like a disease - needing my laptop near) and kept one eye out for the other person to arrive.

A man approached me - he must have been somewhere in his late 70s, maybe early 80s - and he complimented me on my outfit and jewelry and said something flattering about my appearance. I managed to say "thank you", smiled at him and he went on his way. I guess I must have looked suitably surprised because the couple at the table next to me laughed and the woman said, "That would make any woman's day." I laughed, agreed with her and the couple left.

And I had to wonder if that man had been nearer to my age, would I have wondered what he was after? Probably. Suspicion factor would be built in for a younger man in the same situation. But older men can do this sort of thing without seeming sleazy. My own father does this type of thing - I've seen him do it numerous times. Nothing lascivious or inappropriate, just friendly.

I think much older men know that approaching a younger woman with a compliment won't result in an insult or a put-down. I knew he wasn't being disingenuous - he was just being nice.

But a man nearer to my age doing the same thing? All my radar would have sprouted up, looking for any signs, however minute, that he was less than sincere. I'm a suspicious person, always have been. Very few men my own age approach me - I think I broadcast "don't come near me" signals, which is close enough to the truth. And I've been known to be oblivious to men - I don't notice them unless they approach me, as this older gentleman did. I do know a physically attractive man when I see one - I register the information and then I forget about it. What is attractive to me is a man who is friendly, intelligent, trust-worthy and nice. Appearance doesn't count for much unless the person would need to have their front window removed and a crane to lift them to an ambulance - that, I would have a problem with.

So, I guess the question becomes, at what age does a man need to be in order to approach an unknown woman, give a compliment and not be perceived negatively? Or is it an age thing at all? Maybe it's more of an attitude thing. I would like to think that I could differentiate between a genuine compliment and a disingenuous one.

Or maybe, it's just as well that I'm not looking for that "special someone" at this point. I'm saving the entire half of the single population for the time being :). Yes, I think that's the way I'll look at it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Costco - Parental Fight Round 16897

I visited my neighborhood Costco this morning. Doing what I would normally do on a weekday but didn’t get around to doing. I expected Costco to be jammed with people, which it was, but I didn’t expect to keep running into one battling family – a mother, a father and two little blond boys that I estimated to be around three and five.

I don’t know what started it. But the father and mother decided to have a major spat in the middle of Costco – yelling and shouting and pointing at each other accusingly, while their little boys looked on with numb expressions and dead eyes. It was obvious that these children had seen this kind of behavior so much that they had shut down, waiting for the storm to pass. I passed them about three times in the aisles and somehow ended up behind them in the check-out line where, forty-five minutes later, they were still arguing and the boys looked even more shell-shocked. The parents were so involved in their argument they didn't even notice their younger boy drop his toy (he was in the kid's seat in the shopping cart) - I picked it up and gave it back to him. I wanted to give the poor little guy a hug he looked so miserable. I didn't because I don't touch other people's kids unless I know them and the parents know me well enough to know that I am not a threat.

I know that I can’t tell people to “SHUT UP ALREADY – YOU’RE HURTING YOUR KIDS WITH YOUR STUPIDITY” without being told to mind my own business and/or possibly being assaulted because what else can I expect of people so ignorant as to argue in front of their children. These people should not even have kids – they’re not mature enough. But seeing those two little boys so traumatized just broke my heart. And it made me angry as hell.

These parents are obviously adrenaline junkies who will probably have make-up sex later and go back to their normal fighting activities. The problem with this is that the kids only see an argument, they don’t see a resolution. They are left in a state of perpetual uncertainty and fear, wondering if they did something to make Mommy and Daddy mad at each other. Kids will always blame themselves for things that go wrong with mum and dad.

I wanted to slap both parents, not that I would have, but I really wanted to. I actually haven’t slapped or hit anyone since I was a kid and then it was my younger sister. Plus one moronic guy in India who came up behind me and grabbed me, but that was self-defense.

Don’t these parents know what precious gifts they have in their children? Don’t they care that their behavior hurts their children? No. They only care about winning whatever stupid argument they’re having – a power struggle played out for the viewing displeasure of every other person in Costco and their poor boys. The reason I get extremely upset with abusive behavior to any child is that I tried to have children but due to problems that were not mine, plus five failed IVF attempts and one failed adoption attempt, I don’t have children. I wanted children but in light of what happened in my now-defunct marriage, I can see it is just as well that I didn’t have kids.

I think people should be licensed before they can have children. We make people take driver’s tests to get drivers licenses so they don’t kill themselves or other people on the road. I don’t see why people should be allowed to have children if they are going to mentally / emotionally / physically / spiritually damage their children for life through idiotic and destructive behavior. Take a parenting course, for God’s sake. Do something other than what you are doing but don’t damage your children. It’s very simple. And very hard to do when you have an immature relationship.

I know life is not perfect and couples argue. But really, people, don’t argue in front of your kids and don’t argue so that they can hear you—act like two reasonable adults and stop acting younger than your children. Practice some self-control because honestly, you’re embarrassing yourselves. The parents I witnessed would have been good for those Ultimate Fighter contests I’ve heard of. No holds barred.

Seriously, grow up, get some help or get away from each other. Your kids are better off with a single parent in a less stressful environment than a chaotic environment created by clashing parents.

Okay, that's it for my rant. I just had to get that off my chest.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Hmmmm. I’m starting to wonder, actually have been wondering for quite some time, if I was meant to be a settled down person. You know—married, 2.3 children, white picket fence, steady employment and PTA meetings. More and more, I’ve been thinking ‘no’.

I took one of those Facebook quizzes about what kind of animal represents me—as a rule, I don’t take them seriously but sometimes the results make me think. Apparently, I am an Eagle type person, the description of which is:

You have an Eagle personality. These Birds of Prey are some of the wildest of nature's beings. Though they can be tamed they always retain some of their wild spirit. Most see the Eagle as a wandering spirit but it only seems that way to the untrained eye. In actuality you as an Eagle personality have issues being tied down in relationships and in places sometimes not because you want to be elsewhere just that you want the freedom to be elsewhere if you choose. You aren't the most trusting individual but you are the most well known. Eagle personalities are few and far between but they tend to stand out in a crowd as if they don't belong with them, mainly because they are fairly solitary: they might be the artist who sits in the corner and doesn't communicate, they might be the popular person who has lots of acquaintances but very few actual friends. Being an Eagle means you have an inner core of strength, which you unfortunately have to use quite frequently since you are uncomfortable leaning on others, and have difficulties sharing your personal and innermost thoughts.

I don’t know anymore. I like to think that I chart my life according to my own wishes, but more and more, I look at my past and realize that I’ve never been settled. Not at any time, not in any place, not with any person, not in any job. My earliest memories are of wanting to get away, to escape from wherever I happened to be in my life or where I was living.

For a period of time during my now-defunct marriage, I was at the same job for almost four years and during that time, in combination with an impossible marriage, I felt trapped. I was in a rut. Get up every day, go to work, come home, make dinner, watch TV and argue with my ex. Every. Single. Day. I felt as if I had died in a hell of monotony. And then one day, I was laid off along with half my department because the company I worked for was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Suddenly, everything was immediate. I started living in the here and now and anything could happen. I was scared as hell because I had become accustomed to an every day mundane existence and was abruptly dumped into a whirlpool of uncertainty. At the time, I thought it the worst thing ever. After a number of months (and after much nagging by my ex even though my severance package paid my full salary for the duration), I found a contract position as a Business Analyst. The position turned into Project Manager, Build Manager, Trainer, Team Lead, Systems Analyst, Quality Assurance Analyst, Support Analyst, Professional Handholder and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer for a department in the government. And in a strange way, my need for instability and chaos was satisfied - until I hit my physical limit and was forced onto disability.

But it was exciting. Being dumped into the deep end and forced to sink or swim. I swam but at a huge cost to my health. I think it's part of a perfectionist, masochistic streak that seems to run through my head. If I could do ten jobs at the same time, I must be pretty good, right? Wrong. It illustrated how the thought of letting other people down adversely affected my health. It illustrated a lack of personal boundaries. It illustrated how people will take advantage of those who do not protect their own boundaries. I hate learning these lessons the hard way, but that’s the only way I seem to learn them.

I seem to do better on my own. Always have. Like a lot of people, early on I learned not to trust people. People will turn on you. People will let you down. If you do it yourself, you won’t have to depend upon anyone else. But you know what? No one is an island. And you will be hurt. At some point, in some way. It is a part of life. But the question isn’t if I will be hurt, the question is how will I react when I am hurt. I won’t disappear. I won’t dissolve. I will keep going because that is what I’ve always done.

No matter how independent you are, at some point, you will need help. And with any luck, someone will be there. As someone was there for me when I needed it the most.