11 January 2010

In Front Of The Wife

On my way home from work, I stopped in the Duane-Reade store near the Jamaica Terminal of the Long Island Rail Road. (Yes, they spell Rail Road as two words.) I had to buy one of those, you know, things a girl needs (!) and had a coupon from D-R.

Anyway, having found what I needed, I walked down the chocolates aisle. (I went from what a girl needs to what a girl craves, I guess.) There, one of those swarthy, eternally handsome men with a moustache was with a woman who was quite obviously his wife. The woman was looking at something and talking to him in what I somehow knew to be Arabic even though I don't know any Arabic. As he made the gesture of listening to her, he rocked back and brushed against me.

"Excuse me, Miss."

"That's all right," I simpered.

He paused and looked in my eyes. "You're beautiful."

While I felt flattered, I felt badly for his wife. I mean, I don't think I'd want my husband flirting with some sorta blonde stranger. In any event, I was at a loss I exhaled, "Your lady is quite lovely."

"But you are beautiful!"

"Well, I have a boyfriend," I lied. "And you have a very beautiful wife." Which, by the way, she was.

"But it is not wrong to admire how beautiful you are."

"Well, I appreciate the compliment. But, please, appreciate what you have."

"Yes, she is beautiful. But so are you."

"Thank you. And I hope you both have a nice day."

After I paid for the box of needs and package of wants, I was walking out to the street when, from the corner of my eye, I saw the man looking at me.

Now, I must say, when I got dressed this morning, I could swear that there were a few pounds around my midsection that weren't there before. And it was one of those days when every mirror and every window I passed drew attention to my seeming newly-acquired adiposity. (So why did I buy chocolate?, you ask.) But people, out of the blue, told me that I looked good. And then I bumped into that guy. Or, more accurately, he bumped into me.

I'm still thinking about his wife, though. I don't know anything about her, but I don't think she deserved that. Then again, for all I know, that's written into their marriage contract, or some kind of contract that they have.

In any event, it got me to wondering if I was anything like that guy. Of course, I never looked as good as he did. But I couldn't help but to wonder whether I was a little friendlier with some stranger or another than I should have been when I was with whoever was in my life at the time. I never consciously flirted with anyone else when I was out for the day or night with one of my now-exes. Not to brag, but I was flirted with a few times on such occasions, particularly when I was in really good shape.

I actually used to dread those situations because they always led to a fight with whomever I was hooked up with at the time. That used to happen whenever I went to an office party or other event with Tammy and her co-workers or when I would go with Eva to something or another that one of her Sarah Lawrence classmates hosted. At the office parties, it seemed like everyone was ignoring me (which I didn't mind so much) or hitting on me. And sometimes the ones hitting on me were the wives of the traders, accountants, lawyers and other executives. (Tammy worked for a Wall Street firm.) She used to say that they were interested in me because it was obvious that I wasn't in or of that realm of work. That seems plausible enough. But I don't think I'll ever figure out what any of Eva's classmates saw in me--except, perhaps, that I was with Eva.

Maybe that guy who bumped into me today was flirting for no other reason than I'm not his wife. I'm guessing that she was about my age. But other than that, we couldn't be more different: She was one of those classically beautiful Eastern Mediterranean women you could easily picture in a Greek statue or Byzantine mosaic. I guess a guy can get bored with filet mignon if he has it every night; a cheeseburger (if not a cheesecake) provides a little variety, if nothing else.

Then again, maybe he flirted with me, in front of his wife, for the same reason that Donald Trump trades in his wife every five years for a newer model: because he can.

I hope I was never like that guy or that I don't become like that woman. But, if that sort of arrangement makes them happy, I wish them well.

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