Despite my deep and abiding belief in Feminism I have never been offended when a man flirts with me. Maybe this is because although I have always been considered attractive, I have never been a classic beauty, and it didn’t happen very often, even as a young woman in New York City. Regardless, as long as the man isn’t crude (the ‘hey baby’ of construction workers springs to mind) I try to take it in the spirit in which I hope it is intended.
One sunny, July morning I had to take the early shuttle from the LaGuardia Marine Air Terminal to DC for an SEC meeting. It was a beautiful, clear, day and I was wearing a black linen dress with matching jacket and had a black grosgrain ribbon tied at the bottom of my French braid. I was sitting in the airport lounge fiddling with some legal paperwork and waiting for my colleague to arrive. A tall, handsome man walked up to me, stopped in front of my seat, and reached out his arm to me. I cocked my head to the right and stared at him like a quizzical spaniel. He jiggled his hand slightly so I could see that whatever he held in it wasn’t going to explode. I reached up tentatively and accepted a little grey plastic box marked ‘Manufacturers Hanover Trust.’ I gazed at the box, then up at him questioningly. He smiled and said “I always carry an extra to give to the most beautiful woman I see.” My eyes grew large and I mumbled a baffled “thank you.”
He bowed slightly, turned, and walked toward the line for his shuttle to Boston. I snapped open the box and saw that it contained mini office supplies – clips, scissors, and a tiny black stapler with extra staples. I smiled. I raised my head to find him in line. I caught his eye as he inched forward in the queue. I held up the box and grinned at him. He smiled in return then handed his ticket to the gate agent. I never saw him again.
That was 1986. I was 26 years old. I remember everything about that day, maybe because a total stranger made it wonderful by flirting with me, by telling me I was beautiful, and by asking nothing in return. So, wherever you are, Manny Hanny Guy – thank you. By the way, I still have the box.