Today I finished round two of the horse-pill-sized antibiotics prescribed for me after the ultrasound. The lump in my armpit remains unchanged, so at lunch I found myself seated in the waiting room of my Eastern European family doctor. The waiting room is not large, unlike the crowd of people it was failing to accommodate when I arrived. After my hour and a half wait the doctor came in and started reviewing the last three weeks with me. I was pleased to hear her suggest it was probably some kind of subcutaneous cyst or benign tumor, and that it seemed too near the surface to be a lymphatic tumor. She told me to monitor it and make sure it is not changing size and to come back in four months for an ultrasound for comparison. So the visit went well, and I should be able to worry slightly less for a little while.

In other news, I continue to be a huge flirt everywhere I go. Over the past year my wife and I have made an effort to be much more social. We finally have a couple of regular babysitters, we live inside of town now instead of a 40 minute drive away, and we decided we needed more friends who we could be ourselves around instead of our conservative social group. This has led to some interesting adventures, including a crazy Valentine's Day party that had a cage and stripper poles and cookouts where our group decided to go for a communal naked swim.

One of the unforeseen side effects of all of this has been the realization that at some mysterious point in the past few years I crossed an invisible line into the "desirable man" category. Prior to that I had always been withdrawn around any woman who was not my wife when we would be out socially. I married very young, and after my divorce remained single for only a few months before meeting my current wife. This meant that, for the most part, I had missed the entire adult dating scene. My wife and I met through work (and our mutual hatred of our job) and circumvented a lot of the initial "Hi, how you doin'?" kind of nonsense. Since I have been married for almost my entire adult life, I've never given a lot of thought to how other women perceived me.

Turns out, being a tall, well groomed, generally fit mid-30s male is like winning the flirting lottery. Once I started paying attention I realized that many of the guys my age now carried noticeable paunches or had started showing the signs of a life of bad posture or dental neglect. And while I have a laundry list of medical concerns myself, none are immediately obvious, and great teeth and a straight back are starting to pay dividends.

My wife seems amused by this. While she is in far better shape than I am and a source of lust among my friends, she has never been a big flirt, though this year has seen some changes in that department as well. Sometimes she will feign indignation when I relate to her some anecdotes that happened at the supermarket or how a nurse was so far in my personal space I could have charged rent, but then she will laugh. The only woman I am not allowed to flirt with is my ex-wife, who for years did not even live on this continent, but now lives an uncomfortably close 400 miles away. This is because I am friends with my ex-wife, which baffles my wife, and she (unnecessarily) sees the ex as a real threat, whereas she knows I would never pursue random women in the checkout line.

I am enjoying being who I am for once in my life. And the interesting thing about this newfound self-confidence is that, almost like emotional compound interest, it grows on itself, and the more I use it the more confident I become. In some ways, I feel lucky that this experience did not occur early in life when I was not married. I would almost certainly have been a promiscuous rake. Which would have been fun, I imagine, but not entirely productive towards building a life. But now that I have that life, I am enjoying flirting like every day is my last.

So, how you doin'?

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