The more fish my buddies catch at the local fishing hole, the greater the chance I will catch absolutely nothing and still manage to drive the metal end of a fish stringer through the most sensitive part of my thumb.
The thing about fishing is that you can spend next to nothing on a stick from the woodpile, a hook, and some fishing line, or you can drain your life savings on the latest gadgets and gee-whiz scientific gizmos, and still get about the same result.
One time, I was fishing on the side of Hickory Creek with my friend Travis. He had been pulling in fish-after-fish. All I was catching was a serious case of annoyance because he was having all the Outdoor Life Network moments, and I might as well have been waving an old two-by-four over the water.
Suddenly we heard this cry from upstream, a long drawn out yell of, "Hey!"
And then a few seconds later the voice, louder, said, "Hey," again, followed in a Bronx accent by, "Yoos guys mind if I sit down?"
Travis glanced at me, and I shrugged. We couldn't see the owner of the voice, and we weren't even sure if the voice was talking to us. It sounded like there was an elephant moving through the shoreline trees a little way up the creek.
Presently there was the sound of somebody thrashing around in the burdocks, yelling, grunting intermittently, and muttering unintelligible curses. Suddenly, this huge gigantic specimen of a sports fisherman came stumbling out of the brush.
Before you noticed his size (I mean this guy was at least 300 pounds and stood about 6 feet high), you were blinded by the gaudy Hawaiian shirt that literally glowed in leprous splotches of bright orange, purple, and green. A single button desperately tried to keep the garment together over the guy's hairy belly. I felt a stab of sympathy for that button, straining with all its might to hold that ugly shirt together, all the while poised over the lint-filled pit of the man's bellybutton. The second thing you noticed was that, tucked under the hairy pit of each ham-like arm, he was a folded lawn chair. In his right hand he was waving around a rod and tackle box, and in his left hand was a huge plastic cup of something that had to be alcoholic because the final thing you noticed about this guy was that he was completely drunk.
Travis gripped my arm for a second and said, "Look at that." In the stranger's right hand, gripped between the sausage-like fingers, he held an imported Shimano fishing reel mounted on a Loomis graphite rod. This yahoo was holding fishing tackle in one hand that was worth about two months of my salary.
"Hey!" He said again, breathing through his mouth and stumbling back and forth. "This river is huge! I've got to sit down."
So saying, he handed me his blue plastic cup, which looked to be mostly vodka, and started to vigorously shake one of the lawn chairs in a Herculean attempt to open it with sheer enthusiasm. He looked like a grizzly bear making its first attempt at Origami. The guy started staggering around in a wide circle, flailing the lawn chair as if it were a weird medieval weapon.
He crashed through our cooler, spilling ice and beer everywhere. The behemoth knocked the bucket of Travis' fish back into the creek, and somehow he managed to drop-kick my tackle box into the branches of a nearby tree.
Suddenly, probably out of terror, the chair decided to spring open, and the guy, red-faced and still gasping for breath through his mouth, flung the chair to the ground between Travis and me. He turned, rocking back and forth as the world swayed in front of his eyes, and dropped the fortune in fishing gear across the arms of the aluminum chair behind him.
He looked around in confusion before focusing on me, and I silently gave him his drink. He held it up and paused, looking oddly distinguished for the briefest second before pronouncing, "Fishing ish the shport of gentlemings."
And then he took a long drink, slowly leaning back until he toppled into the chair, snapping the rod and crushing the reel.
The lawn chair seemed to grunt in surprise that the universe had decided to drop a sweating walrus on it. Then the chair decided life was no longer worth living and it collapsed.
For a moment there was silence, and then the gentleman angler started to snore.
Find more Macho Chef columns at FiddleheadFocus.com.
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