It was soon obvious I didn’t know what I was doing…like when my scarf got tangled in the fishing reel… Or when I tripped over the picnic basket and nearly fell out of the boat.
But I think it was most obvious when my normally patient husband began shouting at me: “Turn around and face the fish! Your back is to him! No one brings in a fish that way!”
Ah yes…The day had started out well enough. The breeze on the river was brisk, but I’d come prepared. I had on a sweater, jacket, hood, a pink-striped scarf, and an old sunhat perched on top my head.
In my pocket were a pen and a scrap of paper. A writer’s emergency kit.
We’d forgotten only one thing—my life-jacket—however, a fair substitute was soon found. We tied an empty gas jug around me with a rope. A bit clumsy, but it would keep me afloat in case of shipwreck.
We set out on the river in our SS Minnow—the hundred-dollar rowboat we’d found at a yard sale. With the Cap’n rowing hard, we honed in on sunny spot—a small cavern-like cove, complete with waterfall and smooth-carved walls—a sheltered niche full of fish and sunshine. Cascading falls…clear, aqua-marine waters. Beautiful!
I stretched out in the sunny boat, as usual, with my pen and scrap of paper in hand, while my hubs prepped his hooks and bait. Then he made the mistake of asking me if I wanted to join him.
I haven’t fished much since I was a kid visiting my cousins in Minnesota…pulling in sunfish and perch and little crappies. Nothing like the hunking big fish swimming in this river. These fish were big enough to drown you.
“I’m pretty busy,” I said, scribbling on my scrap of paper.
“Put down your pen and come fish with me,” he said. It didn’t take long for him to regret those words.
I’d no sooner thrown in a hook than I caught a fish. Michael caught one at the very same time. The race was on!
I began reeling frantically. My heart pounded and my deodorant failed.
“What are you doing?” Michael hollered. “Your reel is upside down!”
“Is not!” I said. “It’s above the fishing rod. That means it’s right-side-up!” But I had no time to argue my case. We were in a fight for fish.
With the gas-jug banging about my waist, I reeled furiously—standing backwards in the boat. That’s when my husband told me to turn-around-and fish-like-a-normal-person, but I didn’t dare. I knew I’d lose my fish…so I kept on reeling.
Our lines got tangled…A diabolical mess. Somehow, we reeled the fish in anyway.
My fish was beautiful and very big—several inches longer than my husband’s.
Now folks–any woman with half a brain knows she’s treading on dangerous ground when she catches a larger fish than her husband. Especially when he’s the one baiting your hooks and casting your line.
Wisely, I resumed fishing without saying a word .
Despite my backwards method of fishing, I caught one fish after another. Hunkin’ big Squawfish. My hubs was so busy unhooking my fish and re-baiting my hooks, he had little time to fish, himself. So far, Michael had caught only one fish.
I knew such a turn of events could be hard on a marriage.
“It’s just beginner’s luck,” I said glancing down at all my fish in the bottom of the boat. One of them was still flopping a bit. Quivering. Staring up at me reproachfully. It made me sad…full of remorse. What was I doing? Killing God’s beautiful creatures.
“Oh no! Look at him!” I said. “Poor thing. He’s still alive and suffering.” Tears stung my eyes, and I started to sniffle. “He was just minding his own business and I jerked him out of his home—“
Michael was trying hard to be patient. But it was a stretch. “Listen here,” he said. “Do you cry over your fish-sandwich at McDonald’s? No! This is just life. You’ve got to get used to it.”
I sniffed and got out a piece of chocolate cake from the picnic basket. Three pieces, in fact. I ate them all while Michael wasn’t looking.
I felt better and eventually went back to fishing. I caught more—almost twice as many as my husband—but in the end, Michael caught the biggest fish. It was God’s way of saving our marriage. I’m sure of it.
The sun sank low in the west, staining the sky a lovely pink and crimson. The breeze died and the waters turned to glass. So still. Not a ripple. It was then that the fish began to jump. And flash… And twist in a primordial dance.
They erupted around us—going after the evening-bugs. Shiny fish leaping in the rays of the dying sun. It was beautiful to behold.
With a final wink, the sun kissed the mountain goodbye, sliding down…down toward distant lands on the other side of the planet. The moon rose and shined down on us in the twilight.
Fishing with your husband can be quite romantic, folks. Especially when he takes you home and cooks you a gourmet dinner with the fish you’ve just caught.
It was a wonderful feast…wonderful, indeed!
I polished off my dinner, took a shower and crawled in bed. I sneaked a notebook and pen into bed with me. While my husband snored, I scribbled away happily in the dimness…
Unintelligible words stacked on top of one another in the darkness. Words about boats and squawfish and waterfalls. All those delayed words that hadn’t gotten scribbled on my scrap of paper because I’d been so busy fishing.
At last I ran out of words…all but the final ones.
I stopped. What would I call this story about a patient husband who baits hooks and untangles lines and tolerates all kinds of foolishness from his backwards, upside-down, jug-slinging, cry-baby of a woman?
I looked over at my noble fisherman snoring away in the dimness.
There‘s just one title that would do, of course. Only one would do…!