They doubt themselves now, but they're more interesting and lovelier than ever. They've had their adventures, they have stories to tell. They're knowing, wry, and speak in husky cigarette voices. They get my jokes. They're surprised that I'm not a close minded insecure prick like their ex husbands were. They tango, and foxtrot, and swing. I miss ballroom dancing. I had to stop though; I knew I'd get myself into trouble. Older women tell me I'm well read and mature for my age... they make me feel suave, sophisticated, just like they are. I don't get that from young women (Don't fret, young women, you have plenty going for you, and all I'm saying is the best might still be yet to come).

Someone said men grow distinguished but women just grow old. I disagree. Women do too grow distinguished. Without the baldness and beer guts of my own graceless gender, might I add.

Want to see distinguished? Look at Hillary Clinton, Susan Sarandon, and aaaaaw Carly Fiorina. Look at some of the managers at my day job, but be subtle. It's safer to look at the ladies at my night job, though. I can look at them all I want because I'm a desk clerk, and I'm supposed to smile, chat, and make eye contact. Paid to flirt. Heaven. Blurring the line between customer service and simply swooning at that fortysomething in a business suit with hot legs on her way back from some convention at the University. How confidently she clicks across the floor! I wonder if she's got a PhD. Definitely at least a Masters. Cute, tiny, and fragile she might seem, but don't be fooled. She's given birth. She's been married and divorced, and maybe married again and divorced again. All while beating and clawing her way through one glass ceiling after another. Now she's standing atop one of the outermost ones, looking down. To the victor belong the spoils. I'd be more than happy to carry you to your room madam, if you wish. No trouble at all, we aim to please. I am completely, and utterly, at your disposal. If there is anything, anything at all you need, please don't hesitate to ask.

I knew I wouldn't see her again. Her husband had been transferred to company headquarters in Denver. It was a big promotion, a rare opportunity, and impossible to pass up. They were leaving as soon as she dropped her daughter off at college. We sat there quietly, savoring the last of our time together, looking at each other and grinning like idiots. I left the most important words unsaid.

The girl who'd been a punk rocker 20 years ago wore a fuchsia dress with yellow flowers. Her face was beginning to become lined, the bags under her eyes tactfully hidden by the frames of her glasses. Below the dress were legs that she was at once proud of and embarrassed by. They were long and shapely, white hose partially hiding the blue splotch of veins on her right calf. The dress followed her figure: shoulders, chest, waist, hips. A body that had lived life. She was beautiful.

"I'm really going to miss talking with you." Our eyes met and we smiled again. I loved making her laugh—a woman's laugh, loud and piercing and infinitely more genuine than a girlish giggle. Kind and compassionate, intelligent and mature. The kind of person you could talk with all night without running out of things to say.

We hugged. Not a polite hug, shoulders touching and heads not, but a warm, intimate, head-tucked-into-neck hug. Breathing each other in: lilac and strawberry. Warmth radiated from her neck, daring my lips to gently—so gently—brush against it. Her own lips smiling, full, temptingly near. She sighed contentedly, almost imperceptibly, and sank deeper into my embrace.

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