On a recent family excursion out to eat, our server was an attractive young lady of perhaps 22. I’ll call her Lisa. She was comely, but also witty and warm. She was fun to talk to, and she did a fine job.
We had been there perhaps ten minutes when a guy came in by himself and sat at the bar (some distance from us but well within earshot). Now my immediate inclination is to describe him as “some older guy,” but the truth is he had maybe ten years on me at most. I’ll call him Ralph.
So we’re there at kind of an off time, so Lisa’s the server, bartender, and hostess. So she drew Ralph too. And as Ralph started talking to her, I could tell he was a smidge overly excited to be doing so.
Ralph opened with too much chit-chat about this offering or that on the menu, then progressed into excessively extended conversation about his beer selection. She/we eventually heard about where he lived, what he liked to do, where he’d traveled, how he’d like to build a shop because he liked to work on old cars…you get the idea. Lisa engaged him expertly. She was preserving her tip, to be sure, but I think she was also just a nicer person than I am.
Then Ralph said something about watching his weight. Lisa commiserated, which he took as a license to begin discussing her figure.
Now he was never out and out gross. But the truth is, there’s really not anything a 50-something guy can say to a 20-something girl about her body that she wants to hear. (It’s a perilous topic for any man to any woman, but the inescapable dirty old man vibe super-nastifies it, don’t you think?)
Lisa was a pro, never hinting at any offense. I noticed she brought her boyfriend up pretty quickly when the conversation took that turn, though. I’m sure that’s a standard and effective play for her.
It’s just a shame she has to have it.
I wrote once of being a bad storyteller and not realizing it. I definitely don’t ever want to be a dirty old man and not realize it. I love women, and I enjoyed interacting with Lisa. I think if you described our encounter to her, she would remember me, and she would recall that I liked her. But I think her assessment would be based in that we conversed relevantly and cheerfully, that we laughed together, and so forth.
(As opposed to that I dug her butt or helped myself to a glance down her shirt.)
Really, I’m not that worried about sliding down this slope. I’m 46 years old. I think if I were headed in that direction, there would be some clear indications, and I don’t think there are.
But I do appreciate the reminder to keep my self-awareness charged up. It was also a good opportunity to talk to the boys about how we do and don’t talk to women.
(I was truly heartened by how yeah-Dad-we-know they were about it.)