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Florence Horsman-Hogan: In the age of Facebook, we're losing our ability to flirt

'YOU know, Flo, at times you can have seriously come-hither eyes." As this fella is one of my 'hurt-me-with-the-truth-but-never-comfort-me-with-a-lie' friends, I took him very seriously and got all worried.

Jeez. In my book 'come-hithers' either belong to women who want to convey a romantic interest in their target -- or those who charge by the hour. And as a girl who's lived in blissful harmony with the love of my life for the last 25 years I definitely wasn't either of those. And I'm no Lolita either.

Knowing my hypersensitivity to the unspoken rather than the spoken word, he went on to explain himself in an attempt at mollification.

Apparently, when I'm talking to a man I find attractive, I hold steady eye contact with them and smile slightly. My eyes also tend to sweep them radar like, as if I'm eyeing-up a roulade or meringue (yum, yum!). I hadn't realised this about myself and wasn't sure what to make of it. But like everything, on mature -- or more likely immature -- reflection, I started to see the fun side of it.

To a certain extent I have to agree with him. I mean, while I'm very happily married, I'm not a nun.

I've always quite openly admitted in previous pieces that I love men. When God invented the fellas, she did women a great favour. And I'm not talking about having them as procreation partners -- a bit of science has taken care of that issue. While I fully acknowledge that there are girls out there who can happily admit they don't need/like men (and fair play to them), this isn't about them.

My personal favourite is men with beards. You know the type -- mysterious, dark and swarthy. Since I'm only 5ft 2in, height doesn't really matter. I don't know why, but most men of my acquaintance who have that bearded attraction are usually the more intelligent types; journalists, academics etc.

I'll go out of my way to meet these people and almost always enjoy their company and communication skills. I suppose, while you could say I'm loyal, faithful and true, to my beloved, I'm a bit of an intellectual slapper!

Um. . . again, having said that, I have been known to stop mid-sentence when out with friends for lunch and "observe" a nice bit of eye candy walking past. They know I'm doing it, 'cos I'm usually grinning speculatively to myself. I think it's criminal not to enjoy the finer things of life occasionally.

The funny thing is that my hubby -- though tall, dark and handsome -- has no beard. He grew one once -- and I hated it. For some weird reason it really unsettled me.

I don't think I've ever done so much Florence-style subliminal messaging in my life. A new electric razor, buying tins of shaving foam (when my usual shopping involves buying stuff for me, myself and I). Leaving newspapers and magazines lying around with shaven headed/ clean-faced fine things. On and on like this until I had to resort to my usual straight talking. "Shave that shagging beard off, it doesn't suit you!"

Once his rather attractive dark stubble starts to resemble anything like a beard, I'm off again.

But less about me, and more on the subject of come-hithering. I find it very ironic that in the age of greatest advances in communication, we, the human race, are losing our ability to work on our innate and natural talents of communication. Worked on, they can provide the hugely impressive tools of flirt and fun for relationships.

Thanks to Facebook, we've become experts on baring our souls with Hans in Germany and Peter in Australia. Yet we can hardly make eye contact with John, Jack or Jim sitting across the bar/office from us.

Some of my female friends (I do have a few) tell me they'd love to have a hubby/life partner. But with working, and chances of social meet-ups being few, they felt the years were increasing while their chances diminishing.

One of them, who a few years ago was in her late 30s and still single, was fed up and very lonely. Being extremely attractive, with beautiful brown eyes, you'd think she'd have snapped up a fella yonks ago. Nope! As well as being extremely attractive, she was also very intelligent and tended to take things way too seriously. Not too sure what happened, but she went abroad for a year and came back, while not exactly burlesque dancing, definitely flashing the teeth, twinkling the eyes and taking life and herself far less seriously.

She's now living with a fine hunk (no beard though!), and has three screaming little snotty nosed kids under four. (She told me I could use that phrase!) When she and partner aren't blissfully exhausted from child rearing, they're both working as academics. By learning to have fun and flirt in her life, she'd actually attracted her perfect partner!

Another, who'd always been a feminist who-needs-men type, finally gave in and became an avid appreciator-of -testosterone type. Also -- like me -- her come-hithering has landed her with a strong silent type who can have her back in her kennel with the flick of an eye.

They're having the wedding in spring. I wonder if there'll be any talent there?


Sunday Independent