I learned something about myself this weekend.
Isn’t that nice? None of us should let a week go by without learning something about ourselves, that’s what I say.
Actually, what I really say is “None of us should let a week go by without learning something about something,” but I suppose ourselves qualifies as something. So, if all you manage to learn something about is yourself, I suppose that beats what 50-percent of Americans learned this week. And it beats what 90-percent—(give-or-take 10-percent)—of what Trump voters have learned since … well … since probably ever. I mean, considering they are Trump voters, and all.
Anyway, I’m getting somewhat off-track here. This is not about Trump or the people who have not learned—yet, or probably ever—that he is a diseased turd. This is about me, and what I learned this weekend as pertains to that subject. You may remember Friday I announced I was going fishing. I have never done much fishing in my life. I can count all the times I’ve been fishing, going back to when I was a child, on my fingers. However, I am one of the fortunate ones who has never lost a finger. That’s because I have always been extremely careful—unlike some people I know—around lawn mowers, power saws and garbage disposals. I’ve been something of a piano player most of my life, and one thing piano players like to hold onto is their fingers. Although, in all fairness, I know a nine-an-a-half fingered fellow who plays piano, so it’s not impossible. However, it’s a lot easier to play piano—especially Bach—if you have ten, full-length fingers. Not that this guy I know would ever chose to play Bach. He’s definitely more of a Jimmy Buffet sort.
But back to my fishing history. Essentially, it is non-existent. I did catch two 25-inch steelhead once—the first two fish I ever caught, and that’s the truth—but I had a guide to do all the yucky work. That was over 20 years ago, and since then, I’ve been fishing only when our family went to our favorite place in the hills. And I’ve only caught two fish in all that time.
Of course, I didn’t really try very hard, because there was no guide along on those family trips to do the yucky work. Unless you count my wife as a guide, which she certainly is. Without her, Heaven knows where I would have ended up. But one thing she has always been pretty adamant about: that being, when it came to fish, I had to do the yucky work myself.
Fair enough. I agreed to do whatever yucky work there was to do on any fish I caught, but I found a loophole: Just don’t catch any fucking fish. I went through all the motions. You know, with a pole and hook and some worms and that sort of thing. But except on those afore-mentioned two occasions, I managed to avoid catching fish. As to those two occasions, I think they were unavoidable accidents. Just happened to run across two fish who weren’t looking where they were going, that’s all. And they didn’t like it any better than I did, I’m sure.
So guess what. One of those two occasions on which I serendipitously snagged a fish was this last weekend. I was on a pontoon boat thingy—(looks like a rocking chair a clown, with just enough room for me, my freezing wet feet, a fishing pole and a few worms)—out in the middle of a cold-ass lake, when I accidentally caught this poor, clumsy fish that was probably gawking at some bit of weed or a duck or something as he swam by my worm.
I tried to save his dumb ass, I really did. I wanted less to do with him than he wanted to do with me. But having no experience in fish-saving techniques, I lost the battle. And so did he. By the time I got that stupid hook out of his mouth—(yes, he was swimming by my worm, gawking around when he should have been watching where he was going, with his mouth hanging open like a teenager, can you believe it!)—I had a dead fish on my hands.
To make matters worse, all the while I was trying to save this fish, the pontoon clown-rocker thingy was being blown like a styrofoam peanut farther and farther away from where I needed to be if I ever wanted to have warm feet again. And by the time I rowed the stupid thing back to an approximation of where I’d started, it was damn-near dark, I was exhausted, the fish had rigor mortis, the pontoon thingy had about half the air keeping it afloat it had had when I’d started, and I was pretty sure I was going to die.
Later that evening, as I recovered over a very strong drink mixed by a very generous bartender in the lodge at which we were staying, I got to thinking about how much accumulated enjoyment I had received over the course of my entire life from the venerable tradition of “gone fishin’,” and decided, perhaps, it wasn’t an activity best suited for me. And that is what I learned about myself over the weekend: I hate to fish. I firmly believe that bit of self-enlightenment will come in very useful in the future, especially when it comes to allocating whatever time I have left.
Yet, as flippant as I may seem to you about this revelation, there is a sadness about it I can’t escape. When my father was dying, during his last days—while he and I were spending some of the last few minutes we would have together, just the two of us—he sighed and said, “Damn, Bill. I was only hoping I could go fishing, one more time.” That’s how much he loved to fish.
So maybe there is something about that moment which has led me to continue to believe—as I get ever older, myself—that I would get to like fishing … maybe even love fishing as had Dad … if only I would give it more of a chance.
Oddly enough, as I was deciding over the weekend that I had given it all the chances I would, my daughter was deciding she loved to fish. She caught eight in a day, I think. Maybe nine. And she did it on purpose.
So maybe there is really something about family traits, family tastes and family tendencies skipping generations. I wish her well with it for the rest of her life. May she always look forward to it, and never feel like she’s done enough of it.
As long as she doesn’t ask me to come along.