It's tough saying so long to a "Naked Lady" -- especially one built like her.
Nothing compared to her -- or ever felt better under my fingers.
And that voice.
At times, she dripped with attitude, showing off her very hard edge.
Other times, she was powerful; commanding -- her no-nonsense way of speaking resonating her vast experience.
But I loved her best when she spoke quietly to me.
She would whisper.
It still gives me chills.
There was a time, when, quite frankly, I just couldn't get enough of that whiskey-voiced siren.
I was obsessed.
So, it's difficult to say goodbye.
As you read these words, she's already boarded a plane for the long flight to the United Kingdom.
She left town Thursday evening -- laying over in Oakland before beginning her arduous journey.
We separated hours earlier.
I resisted the urge to look back as I left her sitting there. The woman standing behind the counter assured me everything would be OK.
They would look out for her.
They would make sure she arrived safely at her new home.
They promised to take her all the way to the doorstep.
Her new home.
Half a world away from me, where she will try to please the new man in her life.
I don't know much about him, really, other than the fact that he had been searching the world for a Lady just like her.
I bumped into Ian at SaxQuest -- an Internet dealer based in St. Louis that offers a free trading post.
You can buy there.
You can trade there.
You can sell there.
For months, her considerable charms had been on display at Gottschalk Music Center in Modesto.
There were plenty of lustful stares, but no takers.
So, I posted my Lady's considerable attributes at SaxQuest and eBay.
There were a few suitors, but they didn't work out.
None of them was serious, until Ian came along.
At this point, I should share with you that my Lady is formally known as a Conn 10M tenor saxophone, made by true craftsmen at C.G. Conn Ltd.
My Lady was born, according to her serial number, in late 1935 or early 1936, at the Conn factory in Elkhart, Ind.
During the first half of the 20th century, Conn was heralded as, if not THE best, certainly one of the best saxophone manufacturers in the world.
A few years ago, when I acquired her, she already had been refurbished.
She had undergone a successful makeover -- new springs, pads, silver-plating, etc. -- restoring her appearance to the way she looked when she debuted more than 60 years ago.
The 10M became known as the Naked Lady, by the way, because of the interesting art-deco engraving on her bell, that features a lady, who is, well, you know ... naked.
These older saxophones, especially the Conns, have lots of personality. They anchored the sax sections in many big bands in the 1920s and 1930s.
Today, Conns often are sought by rock players who want projection and edge.
Just how many hands in how many countries have touched my Lady is uncertain.
But it's a safe bet she's been around the block a few times.
So, why did I do it?
Why did I ship her off to the U.K.?
It's an old story, really.
I found someone younger and became enamored.
As I've become more involved with my new love, I found myself spending less and less time with my Lady.
I toyed with the idea of keeping her around anyway. You know -- tucked away in her case in the back bedroom. But that wouldn't be right.
She has so much more to say.
She has so much more to give.
A Naked Lady deserves to be played -- and played often.
I hope Ian will give her that chance, allowing her to be seen and heard and appreciated in an entirely new part of the world.
After all, when my Lady was created it was with the thought that she would be played and enjoyed.
Nobody set any time limits.
Nobody said, "You get 10 years and then we toss you out a window."
With proper care and pampering, there's no reason why she can't go on for another 60 years.
She was built for it.
Making music. That's what she needs to do.
When I think about it, getting back into playing after so many years laying out, I was lucky to get to know her at all.
Besides, we'll always have Modesto.
"Here's looking at you, kid."
Mike Mooney's column appears every Friday in Local News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2384.