I used to be an inveterate flirt. There were different reasons for this, one of them that I was always hoping to be “discovered.” The other, that despite deep love and mutual good will, I was unsatisfied with my husband. I thought he failed to sufficiently appreciate my attractions. I now know he does appreciate them, which is fortuitous, as they are steadily ebbing.
There are different modes of flirting, but, as I have said before, they do not include sexual innuendo. I find innuendo profoundly boring and offputting. Anyone can exchange innuendos; it’s a schoolyard sort of activity, reminiscent of babboons exposing their swollen behinds.
To flirt properly is close to what my mother always called “kibbitzing,” a funny word, perhaps a word of her era, which actually means looking over someone’s shoulder at their hand of cards. But kibbitzing is always verbal, whereas flirting can be nonverbal. You can do it with the eyes. “He’s flirting with you,” my mother said of a man at another table in a wine bar in Florence. He had his whole family with him, and certainly wasn’t doing anything so vulgar as to signal “Let’s meet later.” He had a thick head of hair and an intellectual look, and he was simply sending me a gentle man-woman hello, which my mother noticed before I did.