"There you go, my lovely," says the greengrocer, handing over the sweet potatoes.
"Is the "lovely" for me or her?" I ask playfully, gesturing at my 5-year-old daughter. Whereupon an odd thing happens. The greengrocer blanches, swallows and stutters, "I didn't say 'lovely'. I didn't call anyone 'lovely'."
And what was a good-natured little interaction between two people on a bright and sunny Saturday morning has suddenly been warped into something strained, worrisome.
Why? Because the man thinks I'm going to ask to speak to his boss, accuse him of a smorgasbord of 'isms' and demand some form of retribution/compensation for the affront suffered.
Welcome to 2017, folks: the year flirting officially became a crime. Now let me be clear: after reading and running, flirting is one of my top three pursuits. I'd even go so far as to call it an addiction.
Ever since I first felt the peculiar biochemical change that occurs when two people engage in playful banter, at 13, I have scoured pretty much every occasion - social, professional or otherwise - for the pilot light that will allow me to engage in what I see as one of the purest celebrations of life that there is. I flirt with men; I flirt with women.
I'd flirt with a table leg if it had a nice line in badinage. Because it's not about sex. It's not even about seduction. It's about veering off into a little cadenza that may mean everything, or, most probably, nothing at all.
It's about - as Wikipedia will remind you - "a social and rarely sexual activity involving verbal or written communication as well as body language by one person to another, either to suggest interest in a deeper relationship with the other person, or if done playfully, for amusement."
Amusement - remember that? And I'll tell you something that's not covered by that definition; something so deeply off-message that I'm half expecting my keyboard to rise up in PC outrage and auto-delete the following words: when talking to a man, I like to be reminded that I am a woman.
I like there to be an implicit nod to my femininity, an appreciation that I am a different creature - not inferior, just different. Rarely will young men engage in that subtle and sweetly antiquated doffing of the cap now.
It would be inappropriate, the girls warn - before posting pictures of themselves naked and wrapped in toilet paper on Instagram.
And so those tender little exchanges - homages really, to women and womanhood - are left to the men of over 50, who - sentimental fools that they are - will occasionally still be ignorant enough to call a woman "my lovely."
By the time my daughter is a teenager, I'm not sure there will be a cabbie alive who will have the temerity to call her 'love', the disrespect to help her with her bags or the condescension to wait until she lets herself into the house of an evening before driving off.
And I can only hope that she has enough 'impropriety' in her soul to make her own fun in what looks likely to become a very brittle world.
Reports The Telegraph