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.