One of my earliest memories I have of my Grandma (she of the practical jokes) is a time she took me fishing. I don’t remember much about the actual trip itself – but I DO remember the cool cowboy hat I was wearing…and I also remember a fish flopping around on the creek bank that freaked the crap out of me. But apparently, flopping fish didn’t traumatize me too much, because I tried fishing again when I was older. I should emphasize that I TRIED to fish – apparently, I suck at fishing, because I rarely catch a damn thing!
There is something relaxing about fishing. You bait the hook, cast your line in the water, and then just sit back and wait for something to happen. Occasionally (if you are a decent fisherman) you’ll see your bobber pulled under and then your heart races a bit as you set the hook and reel that baby in. Or in my case, you attempt to set the hook and then your heart sinks a bit when you realize that wily fish got away unscathed, taking the bait with him AGAIN! And then you watch the guy across the way pulling fish after fish out of the SAME DAMN POND and you feel a little hatred in your heart for the fish seem so willing to sacrifice their scaly selves to THAT guy when not ONE of those cold-hearted, big-mouthed, wall-eyed ichthyoids will let you take them home for dinner!
Whew! Let me take a deep breath and then we’ll get back to the relaxing part. And don’t be too impressed by the seemingly casual use of “ichthyoids” – I totally had to look it up and I still don’t know if it is actually a correct term for a fish.
When I was a teenager, the dream house was located not too far away from a river that had been dammed up to make a small lake that was popular with local fishermen. One day, two of my friends and I decided that we would take the fishing rods hanging in my parent’s garage and hike over to the lake to do some fishing. We had a grand plan of bringing home a passel of fish for my mom to clean and fry up for our dinner (I’m sure she would have been thrilled). None of us had fished in years, and we had always had adult help and supervision before, but really – how hard could it be? Besides, I was nearly 15-years-old – I didn’t need a grown up to bait my hook anymore!
The lake was circled by a trail and we passed a few other fishermen as we searched for the perfect spot. Finally we found a small, deserted clearing with a few big rocks to sit on and scrub brush on either side, giving us a sense of privacy. I was impressed by the hook that was already on my fishing line – it was a three-pronged, barbed monster that seemed more than capable of doing the job.
I baited the hook with some bright orange fish eggs from a jar we had found in the garage – and then I posed myself with one foot forward and balanced on a rock, determined to look super cool as I cast my line into the lake. And it WAS the perfect cast – until I realized that I hadn’t released the line so that it my hook could sail out into the lake. Instead, the hook whipped around and rocketed back toward me – and I only had enough time to squeeze my eyes tightly shut and hope that it missed my face.
When I didn’t feel any pain, I opened my eyes again and looked around, thinking the hook had ended up tangled in the nearby scrub brush. As I started to set my fishing rod aside, I quickly realized where the hook had REALLY ended up – neatly and deeply embedded right in the crotch of my jeans. I tugged on the line to try to remove the hook, but its barbed hooks just dug in further. I then I asked my friends if they could get it out – so they knelt while I semi-squatted in front of them so that they had some room to work. I’ll give you a second to picture what THAT might have looked like – because it is the same thing that a young, very handsome, college-aged fisherman saw when he came up the trail. The three of us froze like deer in headlights as the young man walked by – and then he stopped and took a few steps back, staring at us as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing.
I’m sure my face was bright red as I tried to explain what had happened, but college guy couldn’t have been nicer. He offered to help, opening his tackle box to look for a tool he could use – and then realizing he would need to put his hands right in my crotch to do ANYTHING.
“Maybe you should take off your pants so I can work on that without…hurting you,” he said, looking a bit trepidatious as he realized that perhaps THAT wasn’t an ideal solution either. Still, what else could we do?
I shimmied out of my jeans, being extra careful so that no important parts would be scratched and thanking the God’s above that I had worn a bodysuit that day. For those of you who aren’t ancient enough to remember, bodysuits were kind of like the leotards that you’ll see on the gymnasts at the Olympics – except they had snaps at the crotch so that one could go to the bathroom during the day without getting entirely naked. But still, I was mortified because my underwear peeked out around the leg openings and I hadn’t started shaving my legs yet – so I looked a bit like an anorexic Sasquatch.
Cute fisherdude was careful not to look at me as he bent to his task and he made quick work of the hook, clipping off the barbed ends so that he could slide it out of my jeans. I accepted them back gratefully and pulled them on again as fast as I could – while my two friends sat in the dirt and giggled like…well, like teenagers.
Did I mention we didn’t catch ONE DAMN FISH that day?