There comes a time in every new relationship when the euphoria
wanes and reality creeps in. All this putting-your-best-foot-forward
stuff starts to wear on both of you. This is not necessarily a
bad thing, as there are definite advantages to being able to let
your guard down.
For me, I knew I was getting to this point when the lace on my
Victoria Secret "nightmares", I mean nightgowns, started
chafing and I began contemplating pulling out the old flannel
PJs to see what kind of reaction they would bring. For my husband
(then-boyfriend), I knew he was ready for a dose of reality when
he turned to me one lazy Sunday morning, as we were lounging around
reading the paper, and asked "So, do you like to fish?"
To the untrained (i.e. the non-females), this may seem like a
benign inquiry. However, for those of us who are uncannily intuitive
(i.e. the females), we know that answering a question like this
is like navigating a minefield. This issue puts menacing blips
on the radar screen and it is imperative to proceed with caution.
This being said, the first reaction is to do what any normal,
red- blooded American woman would do, you lie like a rug. I, when
confronted with this scenario, heard something remarkably similar
to my voice (a few octaves higher than normal) screeching in reply,
AB-SO-LUTELY. Ok, its possible I might have over sold the enthusiasm.
But, even though there may be several reasons why a woman might
take up the sport of fishing, lets face it, the number one all-time
reason why a woman would start fishing is to impress a man. As
you may have guessed by now, and I'm not ashamed to admit, I really
wanted to impress this man.
Let me pause here for just a moment. Before anyone starts sending
nasty letters or e-mails about how they are the President of the
He-Woman Man-Haters Fishing Club and their love of fishing has
absolutely nothing to do with a man or that they have been fishing
since Carter was in office (blah, blah, blah) Ð stop. As I
said, I know women come to love fishing for a lot of reasons.
This particular article just happens to be from my perspective.
This is what we in the world of professional journalism call a
background piece. Besides, I'm the author so I get to write whatever
Back to the story. So, even before his grin of pleasure begins
to fade, you realize there is a significant flaw in your approach.
If he is serious, you may have just committed yourself to actually
going fishing. Whatever you do, don't panic. There is always the
possibility that by "fishing" he means going to the
beach, drinking beer all day and taking along a couple of fishing
poles so you don't just look like two drunks on the beach. I wasn't
so lucky. While my own piercing, AB-SO-LUTELY was still ringing
in my ears, I was whisked down to the garage to survey the fishing
gear. I had been through his garage dozens of times. How is it
that I never noticed the magnitude of fishing paraphernalia lining
the walls and shelves? I guess love does make you blind. Apparently
it makes you stupid, too. Because the very next Saturday the alarm
clock was blaring at an hour usually reserved for roosters. Early
in our relationship, this was about the time we were usually getting
to sleep, if you know what I mean. But not this weekend, No Siree,
because we were goin' fishin' and that is way more fun than that
As I mentioned before, he doesn't realize that this outing opens
up a whole new can of worms (and I'm not talking about bait).
Up until this point in a relationship, most people are able to
remain in their comfort zone, thereby making it possible to always
cast yourself in the best possible light. This little jaunt was
about to change all of that for me. Once loaded up, we were en
route and there was no turning back. The miles between civilization
and me were steadily widening, and my mind drifted anxiously to
the task at hand.
Talk about the consummate test. Not only did I need to feign
at least some working knowledge of fishing, but I also had to
do it in such a way as to look reasonably competent and maintain
some of the feminine qualities that initially caught his eye.
I mean, he didn't become dumbstruck with love and admiration for
me because I could burp the alphabet. So, armed with a crash course
in fishing from my brother, I resigned myself to my fate. The
sun began to peek over the horizon as we grew ever closer to 'The
Spot'. He had discovered 'The Spot', as I learned, many years
ago and it apparently yielded unheard of numbers of fish. Over
the past week, descriptions of 'The Spot' reached near mythical
proportions. It was rumored that the fish practically jumped right
out of the water and into your cooler. The location of a spot
this fruitful was so coveted that I was sworn to secrecy.
I sensed, however, as we pulled in, that perhaps word of 'The
Spot' had leaked out, (60 Minutes had probably done a piece on
it or something) as it was lined with anglers looking equally
resolved to make their mark. My fellow was not to be deterred.
While I caught a momentary look of apprehension cross his face,
he soon regained his determination. We were going to catch some
fish because he "felt it in his bones." The only thing
I felt was sick because we left so God-awful early that McDonald's
wasn't open so I couldn't get a sausage biscuit. Not to mention
the van was beginning to take on the odor of the not-so-fresh
shrimp we were hauling to use as bait. We pulled in and picked
our spot at "The Spot." My spirits lifted a little as
we parked, stepped into the fresh salt air and unloaded all we
needed to set about our task. One thing became clear almost immediately,
the set up of the gear was going to be critical to our success.
This was not going to be an open-your-lawn-chair, bait-your-hook,
operation. Oh, no. This was going to be a multiple-rod-multiple-bait-fishing-extravaganza.
I sat back, sipping my coffee and watching in amazement. Which
brings me to another matter. After about my third cup of coffee
it suddenly occurred to me that I had overlooked one very important
detail in my pre-event planning, where the heck was I going to
go to the bathroom? The nanosecond the realization of being bathroomless
hit me, of course, my need to go grew exponentially. So, I had
no choice. This rather delicate issue had to be broached.
I patiently waited for him to have all of the rods placed in
the PVC pipes he was using as mounts, sit back in his lawn chair
and survey all the work he had done. As nonchalantly as possible,
I asked, "So, where would be the closest bathroom?"
I actually lapsed into a momentary state of shock when he replied,
"There isn't a bathroom within ten miles of this place, but
there is a bucket in the back of the van."
My mind was racing as this potential disaster loomed. I didn't
know much about fishing, but I was pretty sure that once he'd
seen me pee in a bucket, the mystery would be gone forever from
our relationship. The ensuing debate over this issue had the potential
to create a lot of tension in the day. Once I was able to adequately
explain my position on the matter (and he realized that it would
be futile to resist), we agreed to a compromise. Anytime I needed
to go to the bathroom, I would go ahead and drive the ten miles
to the convenience store.
When I returned from my twenty-mile round trip to the bathroom,
it was time for lunch. After we got that out of the way, we were
able to once again commence with the fishing. Okay, I hadn't actually
done any fishing yet, but I had significantly participated in
the prep work. I could have never predicted what happened next.
I had a ball. He helped me hone my casting skills and I even got
to the point where I was baiting my own hook. We caught red fish,
flounder and even a few stingrays. I was placed in charge of catching
the pinfish that, he assured me, would be an integral part of
our success. We fished all day, enjoyed the beauty of "The
Spot," laughed, talked, relaxed and just had a plain old
good time. I was hooked. A few years have gone by since that day.
We're married now and have a beautiful daughter. We've been blessed
in ways too numerous to count. And, I'm proud to say, we are a