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Woodworking: I was lured to visit Florida by my wife's Texas hoodwink ploy

Finesse -- Artfulness, cunning, subtle strategy; an artful stratagem, a ruse, a trick . --"The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary"

It seems that my marriage to Ruth is made up of one finessing after another.

Only problem is, I'm the one who always gets finessed.

Here's a recent example: During our 42 years of married life, I've been willing to follow Beautiful Wife almost anywhere. Last summer I even agreed to go to Las Vegas, which is not hell, but you can see hell from there.

Three places, however, I have succeeded in refusing to visit: 1) The Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, Minn.; 2) Florida; and 3) Texas.

Let's concentrate on the latter two destinations. I once visited Florida when I served on the faculty of the Modern Media Institute in St. Petersburg.

What a town!

The MMI bussed students and faculty into town each morning in time to see retirees from New York City's garment district digging around in dumpsters for breakfast, having moved down years back and finding that their pensions didn't quite make the grade.

Then there's the matter of elections. I know a fellow in River Falls who bought a retirement property in Florida, but has never lived in it since retirement. He stays in River Falls, he says, "...because I want them to count my vote."

Another friend who actually lives there to avoid paying taxes complains that he and his wife have to leave their dwelling for two weeks every year so that it can be fumigated.

Bugs, I guess.

Texas? I went there in the '80s to speak to the reporters of the Texarkana Gazette.

In that benighted city, which straddles the Texas/Arkansas border, I was amazed to find out that the young reporters the newspaper was hiring were paid $5 per hour for the first 40 hours per week.

After that, they were expected to work 20 hours of overtime, for which they would be paid $2.50 per hour.

Another time, my plane landed at Dallas International Airport for a three-hour layover that seemed like three years.

The city fathers advertise it as one of the world's largest airports. They didn't bother to mention that it's also one of the emptiest.

I also watched the TV series "Dallas" once, which was more than enough.

I also watched one of its native sons who became president cut brush -- once.

So there you have it.

Here's how I managed to get finessed: Last week we were sitting on our screened porch enjoying the last rose of summer when Beautiful Wife perked up and said, "I've got it! I know what we should do for Christmas this year!"

Beautiful Wife, you see, is an emancipated woman, and last year put her delicate foot down and said, "No more Christmas trees. I want to enjoy Christmas."

That was fine by me and so I looked forward to maybe a trip to South or North Carolina, some civilized place away from snowdrifts.

I could almost taste the shrimp and grits when Beautiful Wife continued: "Let's go to Texas!"

"TEXAS!?" I snorted. "What in God's name are you talking about? You couldn't pay me enough to even drive through it.

"What's with you? Have you been nipping at the tequila, or what?"

As I ranted and raved about inedible country-fried steak, brush-cutting presidents, Lyndon Johnson's shady election to Congress back in 1937, the longhorn version of overtime pay, Beautiful Wife sat calmly in her lawn chair and replied:

"You're being irrational, oh Respected Patriarch of our Household. We've been to many unpleasant places, but what bothers you so much about Texas and, ah, Florida?"

"To get out of going to Texas, I'd go to that damnable FLORIDA," I sputtered.

So it's Sarasota, here we come!

On the next morning, I told the Sages of the South Fork that I had been finessed by my wife.

"Is that some sort of lovemaking routine?" asked a Sage.

"No," said another. "His wife wanted to vacation in Florida, so she finessed him."

Dave would like to her from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.