It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man having a meal at a restaurant will check out the hot girl sitting at the next table.
At least, that was my experience a few weekends ago, when I met up with not just one but two single male friends for brunch.
Despite the good food and good conversation (or so I thought), my friends' attention kept drifting 10m away, to a woman wearing a tight red halterneck dress and sitting with a group of friends.
"That dress is so inappropriate for brunch," I said in my best priggish voice.
"Huh? Quite nice, what," one of my friends replied distractedly.
Just then, the woman - she was probably in her early 30s - stood up to greet a little boy and his father, clearly her son and her husband.
"Oh no," I intoned with the malicious satisfaction of an ugly stepsister. "She has a kid."
The oglers continued to ogle, unheeding.
"Did you not hear me?" I raised my voice. "She's married! With a kid!"
My friends finally turned to look at me. "That's okay," one said, soothingly. "Don't you know? The new dating barrier is two kids."
I stared at him uncomprehendingly. He graciously explained further.
"See, last time, if you were interested in a girl but she was engaged to marry someone else, that was the end of it," he said.
"But now, the rules have changed. 'Engaged' doesn't mean 'off the market' - she can break off her engagement. If she's married, she can get divorced. Even if she has one kid, it's still fair play.