In case you didn't already know: as men grow older, they tend to retain their vanity, expanding it whenever possible. Though greying or balding, with ridiculous bags of fat hanging pendulously from every section of their bodies, they retain the fantastic notion that they remain attractive to women. Even young women.
I recall an episode from my days in The Episcopal church. Our parish Men's Club was enjoying an evening of billiards and food. Our waitress was a hot, young Asian girl of perhaps 23. Many of us aging male Episcopalians were ogling her beauty. The more circumspect among us might have described this activity as opening our eyes to behold God's gracious hand in all his works; that rejoicing in his whole creation, we might learn to serve him with gladness (1928 BCP, p. 596). But one among us put it in more earthy terms: "Just because there's snow on the roof, it doesn't mean there's no fire in the fireplace."
Which brings me to this morning's frantic dodge down I-696 and the Southfield Freeway, in which I flatter myself that a very attractive woman flirted with me. Given what has been discussed above regarding the vanity of old men, I accept that the entire episode may have been a fabrication of my own vain mind.
She had jet black hair and raven eyes that looked directly into mine as she slid her low-slung silver Mercedes into an empty pocket in the traffic, directly to the left of my menacing black Marauder. Her features struck me as being Italian in origin. As our eyes locked, she gave me a mischievous grin. I was thinking how the two of us would look in a black-and-white movie ... her glistening black hair, her silver coupe, my silvering hair, and my big black Mercury. We played tag in the slow crawl on I-696, and on the faster jaunt down M-39. Sometimes I pulled directly behind her, to look at her in her rearview mirror. Sometimes, she pulled up behind me to do the same.
We were both advancing through the traffic. Not racing, not taking chances, just efficiently cutting through the sea of Toyotas and other similarly soulless automotive appliances. Once, on Southfield, as I roared down the left lane, she pulled left to follow, but an ancient red Aerostar minivan cut her off. She'll catch up, I thought. And by Warren Road, there she was, right on my bumper again. I pulled over to let her past. She didn't go past, but tucked in behind me.
I was impressed by her driving. Fast, but not showy. Efficient, calculated, immensely confident, but always safe. Competence is sexy, I think.
I managed to maneuver myself behind the sleek silver Mercedes one more time before she pulled off at Ford Road. I got behind her to look at her license plate number, to see if she had a vanity plate.
No. All the vanity was with me.