I love to flirt. It’s enjoyable, non-committal, allows me to smile and most of all, it forces me to practice speaking in a high pitched, womanly voice. I’m getting quite good at that, but sometimes it still seems to be an uphill road. Anyway, I was out shopping in the town centre in my electric wheelchair – I cannot walk properly after a stroke – wearing a beautiful new hat – a marvellous, wide-brimmed creation in red vinyl – just the thing for a damp winter’s day. Then I heard a cat-call. In disbelief that it possibly be for me, I looked round to see who made it and whom did he mean. To my amazement I saw a man standing by a street café table with a mug of beer in his hand staring in my direction. I gave him a smile – I couldn’t stop myself – which earned me a wide grin and a load call, “Lovely hat, my dear!” I waved my thanks and blew him a kiss.
On my way again, I suddenly became aware of a presence behind me. Unable to turn in my chair, I stopped for a moment and pretended to look at a shop window. Sure enough, a man stopped, too, apparently sharing my interest in a display of perfumes. I caught his reflection in the glass and turned my chair so that he could see me. We both smiled and I waited for him to open the conversation.
“Nice day,” he started, rather unimaginatively, I thought, but perhaps he was nervous.
“Yes, isn’t it?” I replied, no less tritely. But then I gave him a smile.
He grinned back and then said, “Forgive me, but I was admiring you back there. Your poise and how you dealt so elegantly with that jerk.”
“Well, I don’t know about the poise. After all, I am sitting down and strapped into my chair. Still, it’s nice of you to say so.” I smiled again,
“OK. Even if it was not poise, it was elegant.”
“Well, thank you. But why did you call him a jerk? I thought he looked rather nice.”
“Maybe he seemed that way to you, but our tastes no doubt differ.”
Our conversation seemed to have reached a dead end and I started to wonder what would happen next. I did not have long to wait.
“Are you going my way?” he asked. “Towards the station?”
“Well, in that direction, certainly, but actually I only wanted to window shop. So my pace is likely to be an amble at best. Have you a train to catch?”
“No. Let’s stroll together?”
“Fine,” I said and looked up at his face.
He seemed to be struggling with what to say next. At least, that was how it appeared to me.
To help him, I went on, “If I’m not very much mistaken, you seem to have something on your mind. Nothing tragic, I hope.”
“No, nothing tragic. Actually, I was wondering how your chair works.”
“How, do mean? It’s an ordinary wheel chair with electric motors in the wheel hubs.”
“Yes, but how does the steering work? And the power transmission?”
“ I steer with this little joystick here. I don’t, I’m afraid, know what you mean by power transmission. I think, it’s all electronic,” I ended, guessing wildly.
“I see,” he said. “Anyway must be getting on now.” So saying, he left me sitting without another word and hurried off into the crowd.
What a disappointment. And what a waste. A handsome gentleman who might have fallen to my charms. And all he was interested in was how my chair worked! How did he expect me to know, anyway?