Vive la différence

Tales of inappropriate groping and worse that happened in the past are falling like leaves from the trees. Women are coming forward in droves, finally feeling free to tell about the time they were accosted by some famous name. The kind of behaviour that’s being reported is offensive and abusive, but it also demonstrates a basic difference between men and women. It all depends on who is making the moves.

Every man has a few treasured moments that are stashed away in his memory about approaches by women. In my case, there are three such stories, none of which came to anything. I was too much the straight-laced monogamous husband to give in to temptation. But that doesn’t mean I can’t remember those occasions from time to time and feel good about myself.

Typical was an incident during the 1992 New Hampshire primaries. I was in the state covering events for the Financial Post, wearing the usual tangle of press passes around my neck, including one for entry into the all-candidates debate among contenders for the Democratic Party nomination. A woman of a certain age started talking to me in an all-too-interested manner. She felt like she was in heat until she realized that my badge said CNN because the cable network was sponsoring the debate. Once she learned I was not with CNN, she immediately lost interest. But for those few minutes, I felt like a king.

One of the other times also occurred during an election campaign. A young female volunteer was working her way through all the male members of the campaign staff. When my turn came, I let her try to weave her spell for a while, then pulled out my wallet and showed her photos of my children. The air in the room suddenly went icy. The final occasion was in Toronto at one of those many evenings when journalists give each other prizes because no one else will. Again, I revelled in the moment but bowed out before anything happened. All of which is to say that when women are approached by men, it’s often unwanted. But whenever a man receives advances from a woman, it’s always welcome.


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