Being wooed, like wooing, is an art that must be learned, practiced, celebrated.
And, speaking as a woman, I believe it might be even more difficult a task than that of courting itself. It requires patience, discretion, strength and an absolutely unshakable faith in one’s own glory.
One caveat – I’m speaking of men and women, but, as I noted in a Comment, the paths I envisage are less gender related than they are role related. Same sex lovers will choose the path that suits them, and I know they do. But as for ladies and gentlemen, I truly believe that there are reasons for these paths and that we ignore them at our own peril. Or misery.
Now, why would a lady wish to be courted, to be pursued? Because this is the process by which her lover learns her. Learns her mind, her heart, her soul, her body. Her name. And this is how he proves that he’s worthy of her love, by taking the time and the terrible risks to do all of this. Suitor tasks.
And what would happen if the lady didn’t understand this and attempted the wooing herself, sigh? Most of us have, at one time or fifty others, done just that, and I think we know the consequences. We have attempted to “prove” our own worthiness and impress the boy with our credentials [note to Miguel: exactly], show him how much we understand him, how good we are at knowing him, caring for him, adoring him.
There were long years when I was convinced that other girls knew something, from their infancy, that I did not. Not that I was ever at a loss for lovers, but something was wrong. No matter how hard I tried, I felt negligible, unknown, not, somehow, valued properly.
And what boy in his right mind wouldn’t smile and adore being adored and cared for? What could be better, or easier, than sitting back and just being loved, without ever having to go to the trouble of learning – and wooing – the woman in question?
The consequence, of course, is that then the gentleman most probably will never go to that particular trouble, and the woman will end up wondering why.
Why, for example, she feels unknown, unloved, alone. Perhaps they both write, and he sends her chapters of his novel, but he’s never bothered to read one of her words. Perhaps they have both done astonishing things, but only his history matters.
Perhaps they sit through an entire meal never exchanging a glance, let alone a sentence.
And how could he even understand that there might be a problem? After all, he never had to slay a dragon or spend hours in a dusty bookshop thinking only of her, learning her, learning how to love the woman he loved.
All he ever had to do was show up, and there she was…courting him.
I have been a middle sister to two brothers, the mother of a son, raised another woman’s male child. I do, in fact, adore boys, beyond all measure. And, as anachronistic as it might sound, I love caring for them, playing with them, delighting them, reveling in their company.
But it took me a lifetime to learn to be wooed.
So what is a girl to do? Everything.
She goes out into the world and fights astonishing battles. She studies, learns, reads, dances, sings, paints, fixes cars or computers or countries. She jumps rope, plays chess, collects stamps, organizes unions, paints her toenails. Anything. And everything. Glorying in her own wondrous self.
So when the proper - or improper, or both, we hope - suitor comes along, he’s going to have one hell of a lot of work to do. And, until he does, we have one hell of a life.
But, also, in the meantime, she should be flirting like mad. Endlessly.
Flirting is NOT courting. It’s playing, dancing, giggling, batting eyelashes, the grown up version of hide and seek or dress-up games. I have been accused of flirting with anything that moves, and I do. I flirt with babies and the postman, with the old lady at the bakery and the tech support guy in India, with dogs and cats and that very cute boy who lives upstairs.
But it is not pursuit.
And, once upon a time, just a few years ago, when I was living in Savannah, I had a reverse Cinderella ball [note to spark: yes!]. All my girlfriends, ranging in age from 16 to many decades past that, were to invite a boy – one whom they didn’t really know, or to whom they hadn’t been formally introduced. The subtext was, of course, to improve the pool of fanciable gentlemen in our midst. And also, I might add, to teach them how to flirt.
Invitations were etched so they could be handed to the gentlemen with the caveat that this was not a date, merely an invitation. Nooks and crannies were arranged in the house and in the garden. Flowers were scooped out of dumpsters behind florist shops on Friday evening [if you are unaware of this mother lode, here it is – many shops dispose of much treasure prior to closing for the weekend]. All guests were informed that flirting was mandatory.
The wine flowed, there was much more dancing than I might have expected, more giggling and silliness, and, given the boys in question, more civility than I had dreamt possible. Case in point, the constabulary didn’t even arrive until 4:30 in the morning.
Because flirting can be so very much more than celebrating the glories and wonders of everything that moves. It’s also the first dance step, indicating interest, hinting at availability, whispering possibilities. And unbelievable fun.