Hook, Line and Thinker
As recently as my 30th year of existence, I had never caught a single fish. This was not for lack of trying. No, no…I had tried on multiple occasions, and I have various stories of deep emotional scarring and wasp-sting-induced-near-death experiences to prove it. Okay, so maybe the near death experience part is a little exaggerated. Still. It has never been pleasant.
Then Memorial Day rolled around. I had a long weekend, with an extra day off from work, and we were headed to the lakehouse. The lakehouse is a very special place, and escaping to its solitude is one of my favorite weekend rituals in the cooler days of spring, summer and early fall. Our cell phones don’t work, the television can only play DVDs, and you might as well forget an internet connection. It is bliss. I am incredibly thankful for my job, and I enjoy what I do. Still, even the most contented of laborers needs a little vacation. Since oil has only just stopped gushing into the Gulf, and I’m planning a Thanksgiving trip to Boston, little vacations are truly the thing for me this summer.
My mom, from whom I inherited and learned the gift and art of hospitality, respectively, invited one of her fellow ER nurses to join us at the lakehouse. Her name is Jane, and she drove in late Friday night, pulling a boat behind her. Now. Mom and Charlie go fishing almost every weekend that they’re at the lakehouse. He taught her everything he knows and now she is, of course, out-fishing him. Their boat is really only big enough for two, and I was believed to bear the fishing curse, so it was really never a question of whether or not I would venture out onto the waters of beautiful Lake Nimrod. (That’s right, I said Nimrod.) When Jane brought that boat up, though, the question was suddenly asked. Without thinking it through, I answered in the affirmative and hopped right into Jane’s boat. For once, I’m glad I didn’t think it through. After two days of quiet on the water, you gain a kind of clarity that you just won’t find in the clatter of everyday life.
Jane knew she had a battered and bruised novice on her hands, so she threw out plenty of hints and tips on how to properly catch a fish. I’m a sucker for parallels and analogy, so it’s no wonder that I was struck by the obvious similarities of navigating the treacherous waters of both fishing and dating. I offer the following as proof.
1. Just because a fish is nibbling at your line doesn’t mean he’s ready to commit.
2. If you haven’t caught anything in a while, move your boat on up the lake.
3. As soon as you pull that fish out of the water, get him in the boat and throw him in the live well.
4. Don’t keep everything you catch, and only keep the ones you wanna clean. It’s okay to throw a few back because there actually are other fish in the lake.
5. You’ll likely catch the big one when you least expect it. (See photo to the right. I caught this beauty after my line had broken and my only option was to drop my baited hook straight down into the water and reel it slowly and straightly back up in the hopes that some fish would bite. It’s called straight-lining, for obvious reasons.)
6. And even then, it’s okay to go home at the end of the day with an empty bucket.
The important thing is to take it all in – the water, the sun, the people…the wind on your face as your boat speeds across the lake, the feeling of a summer day, free and unfettered. Sure, you want to catch the biggest, most spectacular fish that anyone has ever seen – who doesn’t? If you happen to manage it, all the more to celebrate. But if by chance you don’t, life will go on, and splendidly at that.