Tom

Last year Louise made a solo drive to Newport Beach. She wanted to prove to herself that she “could still do it.” I had no doubts, but she, being the person she is, was not so sure. Maybe she had early onset Alzheimer’s or some other undiagnosable, incurable ailment. So she drove off, waving a giddy wave as she rounded the corner and into the west. The first night, she called from a $6.00 a night casino on the western Nevada border. “I’m doing it,” she said. “I can still do this. And it’s only costing me $6 a night.”

Night after night, she checked in. Each time she said how happy she was to have made the trip, how she now wanted to work on the car ferry between Balboa Island and Balboa Peninsula, beginning as the fare collector and moving up to pilot of the boat. “I know I could do it,” she said. “I asked the guy collecting money if I could work there,” she said. “He said I should apply in the fall when the student collectors go back to school. I could be a money collector on a ferry.”

And then, on the last night, when I thought I knew where this was all going, that she would return home to trouble-free hugs and kisses from me, she said, “I want you to woo me when I get home.”

“You want me to woo you?” I repeated her words.

“Yes,” she said. “I want you to woo me.”

The words banged around my head like bowling pins. “I want you to WOOOOOOO me when I get home.”

The conversation ended somehow, and I sat staring into the darkness of the room. A deadness spread through my body like an oil spill. I recalled for a moment how Louise had once said that I am predictable. I never surprise her. I could never accuse her of being predictable. The woman rocks my boat. And I fell asleep on the sofa.

I woke up after nightmares of wooing. I had never really wooed anyone. Well, when we got engaged, I wooed her, I guess. But that was then. This was 45 years later. And then, what does it mean to “woo” someone?  Google. Maybe Google had the answer. I googled “woo.”  “Woo” a Chinese name. “Woo,” etymology from Middle English women. Then again,Woo: 1) to sue for the affection of and usually marriage with  [a woman]; court [a woman]; 2) to solicit or entreat especially with importunity <woo new customers>
3) to seek to gain or bring about.” Bring about what? Definitions would not help me. Could not help me.

Next Google search: “How to woo a woman.” A lot of answers popped up for guys trying to seduce a woman. Guys who had not the faintest clue how to go about it. Guys like me. I suddenly felt sorry for all those nerds. Wooing advice came under titles like “Seven ways to woo a woman properly.” “Ten ways to woo a woman.” “Scientific proof: the successful way to woo a woman.” Forget that one. Scientific proof? Give me a break. And “Fifty ways to woo your lover.”

Somewhere in all of that nonsense, I picked up on an idea. Rose petals. Strew rose petals on the bed. That was the advice. Screw that. Strew rose petals through the house. Strew them all over the place. Yeah. Rose petals for starters.

I called florists. “Do you sell rose petals?”

The first one, a guy, paused. “You mean, like,” he hesitated, “for wooing a woman?”

“Yeah.”

“No. Sorry, Bud. Good luck.”

Several more calls, then pay dirt. “Yes, we have rose petals. We sell them by the bag.”

I tore out of the house and across town to the rose petal seller and bought the biggest bag. I was on a wooing roll now. I’d woo that woman. Then I went to Target. Wandered around the house wares (full blown disaster), the bedding (just as bad) and into the cosmetics section. There were rows of bath salts, smelling massage oils, foot baths. I cleaned off a shelf. I bought a basket, and went home to begin wooing. I was on a roll now.

Louise came home to a big sign I’d made up. I no longer recall what it said.  Rose petals strewn from the front door, up the stairs, into the bedroom and onto the bed, all over the bed, where the basket of goodies awaited her, along with chocolates. No wooing Louise without chocolates.

She hugged me, kissed me, thanked me. Said she felt wooed.

Later we went out to get some food. Our grandson and a friend came over to see grandma. When we didn’t answer, they peeked through the window next to the door and saw the rose petals. “Let’s get out of here,” H. said. “I think they’re having sex.”

The next evening, Sam and Sarah came over to welcome Louise home. They looked at the rose petals, still strewn around the house. Louise raved on about her wonderful wooing.

Sam got a smirk on his face. “Did you have to google for ideas?” he asked me.

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