"Flashed as in flashed," I said. "The classic version. Dirty old man in a raincoat and, well, he opens the raincoat and renders his private parts public. Not that he has to be old. Any age counts. So, I repeat, have you ever been flashed?"
She was about 70. We were driving north together to an event in which we were both taking part. And within a minute of meeting her, no, within seconds of meeting her, I knew that I liked her and that she would be forthright and honest and light of heart and in all probability funny.
A motorbike came up behind the car, followed by another and another and another. I could feel them as much as hear them, their engines not so much revving as detonating, no doubt with something done to them to enhance the noise they made, the conversation-ruining, peace-destroying, invasive noise. My hackles itched with hatred of them, of their aural violence, their intrusion on my wellbeing.
Caught briefly behind us they roared like anger caged, then as the road straightened they went past, a dozen of them, some with those bullhorn handlebars we put on our pushbikes as kids until we realised how dumb they were, some with their feet raised in front of them in the style of an American movie circa 1961, all of them in black, every one of them no doubt seeing himself as a lone adventurer brave, a solitary male bellowing his uniqueness across the plain of life, but every one of them indistinguishable from his mates, a follower, a cliche, a patsy and a dupe of his testosterone.
"Blokes," I said, when they had roared out of earshot. "Blokes."
"Oh I don't know," she said, "you're not as bad as all that."
And she's right. We're not. Most of my friends over the years have been blokes. They have made me laugh. They have made me think. They have made me happy. I have loved them. But still, oh dear, when viewed en masse we blokes are not appetising. And so much of it has to do with sex.
Consider the bike riders. They were every wild-life documentary you've ever seen: the bellowing masculine ostentation, the bid for power and status, with the sole purpose of power and status being mating rights, the passing on of genes, the simple male imperative. It is the way of the world, the single truth of evolution, but what weird and vile expressions it takes in the male of our species.
A few years ago one of the cleverest men I know, an astute businessman, great reader, fine thinker, hard worker, honoured by the government of his country, a man whose company I'd enjoyed intermittently for years, was accused of, charged with and sentenced to 18 months in prison for sexual crimes. And when I'd got over the surprise I realised I wasn't all that surprised. I won't say that his sexual appetites were of a piece with his success in other fields but neither will I say that they were unrelated. He was a bloke, take him for all in all.
Or take Trump. Look how sex underpins his narcissism. Consider his trophies of sexual success, the string of decorative wives and Playboy strippers, all of whom he's bought.
And it was to underline this dim view of blokes that I raised the business of flashing. For over the years I have asked perhaps 20 mature women, women who have seen a bit of the world, whether they have ever been flashed. And every one of them has said yes.
There could hardly be a greater condemnation of blokes. Not only is flashing obviously indefensible, indeed criminal, it is also spectacularly free of thought. What conceivable benefit does the flasher hope to achieve? Does he imagine that his victim will be so overwhelmed with admiration for his physique that she will leap across the back of his motorbike and ride into the sunset of perpetual sexual gratification?
"No," she said, after a lengthy pause, "I don't think I've ever been flashed."
"Are you sure?" I said. "Not at some bus stop on the way to school? Not late at night at university? Never?"
"No," she said. She'd had men rub up against on her public transport. She'd been serially groped when she first started working and she'd been propositioned she didn't know how many times. But flashed never.
And I have to admit to feeling a little disappointed at having my 100 per cent record broken. And I told her so. And, bless her, she apologised. How could you not like her?