Replies to recent columns:
I dubbed him The Washington Lothario. He's a middle-aged gent of apparent class who picks up professional women in their 40s and 50s. But he spins nothing but sugarcoated lies at them, and ends up leaving them abruptly. He has been at it for at least five years, according to more than 25 women who called to say that they are his "victims."
But several male readers say, hey, wait a minute, what crime has this guy committed?
"I have not heard any mention of his beating any of these women, nor stealing from them, nor asking them for money, nor forcing them to do anything they didn't wish to do," writes "An Aging Stud From Clifton, Va."
"It appears that all this guy is guilty of is dating women. My question is, 'How does a 55ish guy keep up the pace?' More power to you, pal."
Joining the chorus was Fred Reiner of Alexandria.
Lothario's victims are "bitching to you about a man who didn't want to marry them," writes Fred. "A man who didn't want to break up with a lot of yelling or crying or furniture-throwing or 'I still want to be friends.' These women just don't know when the party's over . . . ."
Even a member of the sex that Lothario pursues (and pursues, and pursues) had a different view.
"Where do I find this man?" asked the woman, who signs herself "Nanette of Northwest." "Kennedy Center, good conversation, being taken out to dinner -- he sounds like a dream! Wish there were more like him for women our age!"
Sorry, Nanette, but he's no dream -- unless you like phony names, phony biographies and phony promises to call next week. And sorry, you doubting fellas, but Lothario is guilty of a crime that's pretty serious in my book: trifling with a person's trust.
Several of these women are divorcees. Several told me that until Lo made the big move, no man had paid the slightest attention to them in years. They decided to trust a man again -- no small step for them, to be sure. And Lo turns out to be the worst kind of lying fourflusher.
No harm done, you say, fellas? I say big harm done -- to a group of women who will never be quite so quick to open up to anybody again.
I cluck-clucked over a woman from Herndon who says she's scrupulously careful to obey traffic laws. She says she never goes more than 55 miles an hour. Nevertheless, while driving on a highway where the speed limit is 55, she was pulled over by a Loudoun County cop for "impeding traffic."
Robert Kirchner of Derwood, Md., suspects that the cop may be right and the woman wrong.
If the woman was doing 55 or less -- and doing it in the left lane -- "she was violating the laws which state, 'Keep right except to pass,' or 'Slower traffic keep right,' " Robert points out.
"If she obeyed all the laws as written, she would not have been impeding the flow of traffic," he notes.
I don't know whether she was in the left lane when the cop pulled her over, Robert. Nor do I know exactly how fast she was going. Yes, it might have been 45 or so -- which is 1) a hazard and 2) a pain in the neck. If so, I wouldn't find the cop's behavior quite so strange.
I recounted the story of a reader who glanced over at a fellow motorist on the Beltway. The reader was amazed to see Fellow Motorist reading Bob Levey's Washington while driving at freeway speeds.
Bruce Lackey of Rockville saw the incident quite differently.
"What about the woman who told you about this?" he writes. "She took her own eyes off the road not only long enough to see that the other one was reading, but even read enough of it to be able to identify it as your column!"
It does sound a bit like the pot criticizing the kettle, now that you mention it, Bruce. A good reminder that drivers should pay attention to one thing: the road. Levey's deathless pearls can wait.
I described a Rockville woman who doesn't own a car, and must walk virtually everywhere. As she does so, she is constantly "cruised" by male drivers. What can she do to induce these creeps to get lost? I published several very practical replies. But then came others . . . .
Connie Libhart of Sterling suggested carrying a small camera in one's purse. When a "cruiser" approaches, "aim it at the airhead and click. You will be amazed how camera-shy some people are!"
N. C. Purdue of Dupont Circle says direct confrontation has worked best for her. She thinks that "cruisers" want to feel in command of a helpless, frightened woman. So she looks any gazing males in the eye and says, "Ye-e-e-s?" She says it has worked every time.
Finally, Kathy Gillespie of Alexandria has an idea that's eloquent in its simplicity. She advises women who are "cruised" to step off the sidewalk and start walking right up the yellow line in the middle of the street. It's relatively safe, it's unexpected -- and it's sure to attract the very attention that a "cruiser" doesn't want.