Maya turns thirty-eight today. Time for her to experience what being a classic woman is all about. Breathe life into the stereotype. 

She puts on a full mask of makeup, matches the color of her pumps to her mother’s voile scarf from Paris, and practices crying in front of the mirror (in case she’s given red roses). She then reapplies the makeup.

Unfortunately, her date is late, and having studied her part, Maya knows that in her role as the classic woman, she cannot tolerate waiting, especially not when she has prepared a three-course dinner. By the time poor Felix makes his way over to her house, delayed by golfclub chitchat and Saturday-afternoon traffic and a line at the gas station (Sorry, no roses), Maya’s resentment is stronger than his flattery. She acts defiantly and pours him stingy glasses of wine. 

To make matters worse: Felix is terrible at playing the classic man. She chose him because he’s of the previous generation, but he doesn’t act like he is. He’s too modern for this game. Does he think the theater of the sexes is a comedy? His weak performance is not helped, not helped at all, by his compromised costume: there’s a butter stain on his chinos near his crotch. Maya notices the stain when Felix carries the shrimp-cocktail glasses back to the kitchen—how confused he is about his role.

Cutting the lamb, however, his interpretation of the classic man falls less flat, and for the rest of the dinner, Felix properly courts Maya with lines from a male fantasy written decades ago. You are so sensitive. Other women never get me. This is the best vanilla parfait I’ve ever had. 

When the dialogue peters out, they dance in the living room to Leonard Cohen. Just as Maya’s mother would have done today at the age of sixty, if she hadn’t died of breast cancer weeks before her thirty-eighth birthday. 

Felix kisses Maya’s neck and strokes her ass. There are no further improvisations before he carries her off to bed. But undressing her, he accidentally knocks over her mother’s portrait and the spell is broken. 

What’s wrong? Felix asks.

It’s a valid question. In all fairness, in this scene, the classic man should meet a passionate partner between the sheets. After all the wooing he did. A classic woman may withhold forgiveness long after the man has redeemed himself, yet she will never take revenge during sex. It’s not her style. Sex is for union and pleasure, Maya’s mother used to say. Not for politics or education. Which is why Maya sometimes found her father at the breakfast table long after the divorce.

Still, Maya acts disinterested by Felix’s more than adequate erection. In honesty, because she is disinterested and no longer willing to play. She gets out of bed, offering no reason, and goes downstairs to finish the wine. She was only sixteen and still a virgin when her mother died. She had wanted to close the gap. 


About the Author: Claire Polders is a Dutch author writing in English and living in Paris. Her most recent flash fictions and micros appeared in New World WritingNecessary FictionConnotation PressThe OffingBat City Review, and Cheap Pop. You can find her on FacebookTwitter, or at

Story Song: "Take This Waltz" by Leonard Cohen