Fifi grew up in a rural Pennsylvania area in the Allegheny Highlands with three brothers who loved country living. She escaped to the city and married Tim who is educated and well-bred but for some reason she just doesn't understand, Tim would rather hang out with her brothers and their friends than stay in Philadelphia. This is a scene from Treat Yourself to the Best, one of the short stories in My Last Romance and other passions:
"Thad," I say, remembering my earlier offer, "what are you doing tomorrow?"
He studies me for a moment. "Depends on what you want."
"I was telling Tim about going woodsing. He’s never been before. Would you take us?"
Thad looks at my drunken, happy husband then back at me. "Woodsing is a guy thing, Fifi. I’ll take Tim but if you come we won’t have any fun."
"You liar!" I stare at him. "You and Simon used to make me go with you even when I didn’t want to and then you’d threaten to leave me out in the woods."
He chuckles. "We weren’t woodsing then. We were just teaching you a lesson." He looks at Tim. "She was the most god-awful pain in the ass. I hope for your sake, she’s changed."
Tim is staring into his empty beer mug as though confused as to how it got that way. Thad, of course, is overly familiar with that circumstance and knows exactly what to do. He takes Tim’s mug and heads for the tap with the two of us trailing behind.
"The thing about woodsing is women just don’t get the good parts like getting shit-faced and driving through cricks and spitting tobacco out the window." As though suddenly reminded, he hands Tim the refilled mug and reaches into his hip pocket for the foil pouch. I can see the words "treat yourself to the best" on it as he reaches inside for a clump of the noxious brown weed. He offers the pouch to Tim who hesitates for a moment, glances at me, then shakes his head.
"There’s a wet t-shirt contest at Sloppy Ed’s tomorrow afternoon," he adds. "If you come with us you’d have to keep your mouth shut and we both know you’re no good at that."
"They still have those?" Tim says astonished.
"Yeah." Thad grins. "What? You thought we didn’t have any cultural entertainment around here? Naw, Tim, you can’t take women woodsing. You can take them spotting deer but not woodsing."
"What’s the difference?" Tim asks.
The old guys by the beer keg have been listening so Boris has to put his two cents in. "Spotting deer is a time honored tradition, son. You need a truck or a car with a good-sized back seat, a spotlight that runs off a car battery, a dark night and a pretty girl. Round here young bucks have been spottin deer with their girls since they invented the automobile."
"If it weren’t for spottin deer, Simon would still be a free man," Thad says just loud enough for Simon to hear. Simon looks up from the basin of ground meat he is kneading spices into and flashes a wide grin.
"Hell, boy," Eben adds. "If it weren’t for spottin deer I’d a never married either of my wives." Boris chuckles. "Can you believe that?" Eben elbows Tim’s ribs. "Getting a woman in trouble when she’s forty years old and you’re past fifty? I oughta had a knot tied in the thing."
"Spottin deer is responsible for half the population of Hamlet," Boris says. "Young guys around here wouldn’t ever get married if it weren’t for spottin deer. Lotta premature babies got started that way."
George, who is glassy-eyed by now, nods solemnly. "Got me one a them."
Thanks for reading.