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Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Taking the Bait

“An outing with the children can be a pleasant and enjoyable event.” I smiled encouragingly.

“If they’re sedated.” Dad thinks I can't hear him when he mumbles behind the newspaper. I couldn't help but notice that he'd circled all the advertisements for houses for sale over the state line.

“The thing to remember, Dad, is that with children, the theory “Less is More” definitely applies. "Just remember that you’re in control.”

Dad, a doting grandfather, was preparing to take the boys on a fishing trip to the lake. He is perfectly willing to do it again, he says, just as soon as the bandages come off.

“The thing to remember,” he said steadily, peering at me over the top of his glasses, “is that I was fishing thirty years before you could put a worm on the hook without doing the boogie woogie.”

“Well, this should be right up your alley, then”

“Last time I took them fishing, I spent six hours cutting my fishing tackle down out of trees. I have enough gear in that old pine tree to open up a tackle shop.” Dad shot me a “you owe me big” look and headed out the door behind the boys.

Later on, he whiled away the time in the Emergency Room jotting down notes to remember. I blame the painkillers for the noticeable lack of feeling. Here are his notes:

1. Baiting Your Hook

The thing to remember when taking young boys fishing is not to use live bait, unless it’s live corn. Whining and crying can be avoided by a bit of creative forethought. Besides, hysterics frighten the fish as well as the children.

There are any number of products that can be successfully used for bait if they actually make it as far as the water. Jerky strips, corn, cat chow, and peanut butter sandwiches all work well for pond fish as it is all quite easily recognizable with no “ooky” parts. They also go on the hook easily with minimum damage to small fingers or bare feet. A simple gold #8 Eagle Claw in the big toe will help to convince him to wear proper gear, such as shoes, at the lake. Shouting @#*^%! does little good except to get you in trouble when both boys sing out @#*^%! upon returning home to Mother.

2. Casting Your Line

The thing to remember about casting is that once you release the button, the line will actually leave the reel. If your rod is pointed toward the lake, the hook will drop neatly into water with a satisfying plop. Likewise, if you release the button as the rod tip aims pointedly at the tree directly overhead, your bob will direct the line around random twigs and branches and your hook will secure itself into hard wood at least ten feet out of your reach. Let me stress again that screaming @#*^%! will produce sentiment likely to be repeated in front of undesirable people, such your wife who will punish you by refusing to make supper in order to teach you a lesson.

3. Catching a Fish

No matter how hard you try to prevent it, one or more of the children may actually catch a fish. Be forewarned that the child will jerk the line wildly and reel the fish in frantically, responding to any well meaning advice with an air of defiance.

“Keep your rod tip down,” you offer calmly.

“If you don’t stop yelling at me, I’m telling Mom,” he bellows, rod tip pointing erratically at a flock of wild geese overhead.

Once the fish has survived the trip to shore, your little fisherman will refuse any contact. “Take it off the hook, Pop,” he’ll squeal.

If it’s a catfish, calmly show him how to hold the fish under the two needle-sharp pointy fins so as not to be lanced indiscriminately by an unthinking fish. Little Fisherman will disregard all advice and reach for the gaping mouth of the fish, impale himself on the point and jerk rapidly, flinging the fish in your general direction. Immediate action is required. Scream @#*^%!

Dad’s notes end at this point. I figure the ambulance arrived not long after. All I know is that when I visited him in the hospital, he requested a large meal before he went home, and his chart listed his given name as @#^%.

4 comments:

the Bag Lady said...

A true fishing story.
Very funny!

plaidearthworm said...

Hilarious! A story even Patrick McManus would be proud of. I also love the coincidence of subject at the end of the story:
Posted 9:11 p.m. 911! The perfect time for an ambulance/painkiller/fishing tale!

Erika said...

Wow...I'm totally speechless. The visions of grandpa and the boys fishing are too hilarious, I'm actually doing that silent, body-shaking laugh.
And...I've tagged you for a meme. ;)

Amy Mullis said...

High praise! Thanks, ladies, and don't forget the bandaids when you go fishing.