'You talkin' to me?' I ask. No, it's not my De Niro shtick it's my response to the come-ons that a lot of guys are foisting off as compliments these days.
It doesn't seem to matter what I'm wearing, what sector of town I'm in or what time of day it is: Men seem to think that I'll catch whatever pass they're throwing. And I have heard some doozies. Which makes me wonder: Is it me, or is it a sign of the times? Are the (white) gloves off in the pas de deux that is romance?
Get this. I am walking along the Eastbank Esplanade with a friend. As we pass beneath the Burnside Bridge, a fellow who appears to be, shall we say, down on his luck, sidles up to me. 'You're lookin' good,' he says, sizing me up like a Porterhouse steak. 'What are you 35 or 40?'
I cannot make this up.
My reaction is a mixture of amusement (could there be a worse place to hit on someone? I mean, that's not chardonnay on the ground), concern (do I really look É well É my age?) and incredulousness (does he honestly think he'll meet my mother someday?).
I wish I could say that this was an isolated incident, but there are many, too many to recount. It's Portland, after all, last year named one of the worst cities in the United States to be single in, a sad fact that the weather and the economy fail to make up for.
Surprisingly or perhaps not the best flattery is offered by the guys with the least to lose. 'Nice legs. Spare a buck?' asks a fellow from his alfresco office.
Or this recent comment from a guy who, like the Burnside Bridge boy, must think that women are suckers for a good summary of themselves: 'Say, you're in pretty good shape; you must be about 120 pounds. Whaddaya say we hook up later?'
'Finally!' I want to cry with mock relief. 'Someone who sees me for who I truly am! A 40-ish, 120-pound woman who wants to 'hook up'!'
What's worse, it's not as if these whaaat?? moments are limited to encounters on city sidewalks. I have had men ask if they could do their laundry at my house this after the third date. Call me crazy, but doesn't the wooing come before the washing?
And I've also endured blind date lunches where the first course was an unappetizing 'You should grow your hair out,' the entree was a tasteless 'My ex-wife is a shrew,' and dessert was a bland 'Call me if you want.'
But none of this gets to me. Really. Even if the guys' throw was way off the mark, they all meant well. And I like to think that my pain is my friends' gain, in that my experiences reinforce their own relationships, i.e., 'Gee, I guess Todd's not so bad, after all.'
And what's that worth? A thousand, two thousand bucks?