Weiner's real fear: Being invisible to women

I had lunch recently with a good friend who is a veteran of the CIA and one of those spies who is a study in grays—handsome enough, but always in the background; never the first person you’d notice in a crowded room, and very possibly the last. Given his profession, I thought he wanted to be that way. So I was surprised when, early in the conversation as a college student served us iced tea in the diner, he said to me that one of the worst things about getting older is that you become “invisible to women.” It’s not just that they aren’t interested in you, he said, “it’s that they don’t see you.”

Not many men admit this, I think, although I am sure that many men in their 50s and older, and not a few in their 40s, must feel it. And I suspect that it is this sensation of invisibility that makes some men—especially politicians and actors who have made careers trying to be loved in public–make ridiculous spectacles of themselves as they get older…

But what’s really missing, and what my friend the spy was talking about, is that great spark that can come from nothing more than eye contact when you’re in your 20s or 30s. Suddenly that’s just not there anymore. You discover that what used to be a young man’s sexy glance is an older guy’s licentious leer. You thought you were a rampant stud, or at least an attractive older man, and you see in the expression of the young woman you’re talking to that you’re really just an old goat. Or you’re not there at all. You find yourself saying, “Do you know who I am?”