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  • Writer's pictureJerry Della Femina


Below is an old column that ran a few years ago on flirting.

If anything, things are worse today.

How can I flirt if half the other person’s face is covered with a mask? Is she smiling? Is she sneering?

Does she have her lawyer on speed-dial and will she say my innocent words frightened her and caused her great physiological damage that only money can cure? Will I spend my few remaining years in “MeToo prison”?

Screw it. The world has changed and I will never flirt again.


Remember flirting? Remember how much fun it was?

It was, in its time, America’s favorite sport, indoor or outdoor. It was so innocent. There would be no touching or groping – that’s not what flirting was all about. Just some funny banter and mind games between two people of the opposite sex. Or, for that matter, between two people of the same sex who were attracted to each other. It could take place at a cocktail party between two people who were married, but not to each other.

HE might start by saying, “That is one sexy dress.”

SHE would counter with, “Sexy? It’s not meant to be sexy.”

HE would reply, “Cute? Would you believe cute?”

SHE: “I will accept cute. What are you drinking that’s making you so frisky?”

HE: “Frisky? Me? I’m the least frisky guy you’ll ever meet. Can I get you a drink?”

SHE: “If my husband sees you trying to ply me with liquor he’ll challenge you to a duel.”

HE: “With that dress you’re wearing, I’m ready to duel for your heart.”

SHE: “I don’t think it’s my heart you’re after.”

HE: “Touché.”

SHE, laughing, says “You’re so silly” as she walks away.

At the end of the evening, as she is getting ready for bed, the flirtee will think, “I still have it.”

At the end of the evening, as he climbs into bed next to his wife, the flirter will think, “I made her smile…I still have it.”

99.9 percent of the time that would be it. Nothing would happen. They flirted with each other, they both came out of it feeling good about themselves, and that would be that.

Flirting goes beyond the slightly outdated stilted conversation I just attempted to write about. Sometime flirting was a meeting of eyes across a room and a little smile. Sometimes it was raising a glass in a toast and holding the eyes of the person you were toasting just a second longer.

Anyway, it’s all gone.

Try to flirt today in this, another woke year of political correctness, and you will be greeted with a blank stare. Sometimes a twinkle in in your eye will be answered by an angry look. All of us, men and women, are a smile away from being listed in MeToo. All of us are a wink away from reading about ourselves on Facebook.

So, we communicate with cold, soulless texts, careful that we don’t write anything that will come back to haunt us in years to come. We are not flirting anymore. We are the politically-correct generation.

How sad.

How f***ing sad.


Last Thursday night, having put this column on the death of flirting to bed and feeling pretty good about myself, I boarded the #6 subway train at 23rd Street on my way home. The train was packed, and I found myself standing above a seated, attractive woman who was in her late 30s or early 40s (I’m terrible at guessing women’s ages). Like everyone else on the train, she was staring at her cell phone.

Suddenly she looked up at me and gave me a warm smile. I was taken aback, but I smiled back. She looked up at me and smiled again, raised an eyebrow, and nodded her head.

Was she flirting with me? I thought.

Then she said with a smile, “Would you like my seat?”

“Oh, no,” I said, suddenly feeling very ancient.

She then offered the seat to an old woman standing next to me, who took it. I stared at my reflection in the subway window. I don’t look that old, do I?

Then I smiled. I was right, flirting is dead, but thank God chivalry will live forever.

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