Memorial Day. By the time you read this, it will have already happened and we are all returning, albeit not happily, to our respective occupations. But today, the Friday before Memorial Day, it is time for me to prepare for battle.
No, I’m not marching off to war. My tendency to lose consciousness when exposed to blood and my general negative outlook to all things involving manual exertion prohibits any career in the military. No, this is the start of my fishing season. A chance for me to match wits with my intellectual equal: in this instance a fish whose big decision in life it to whether bite the shiny thing in the water or let it continue to move towards the shore.
Over the years I’ve learned to keep my expectations low with regard to fishing. Sure, in my younger days, I used to set goals of catching the biggest fish ever recorded at the lake, or find some sort of long lost Darwinian example of evolution. Now, being older yet no wiser it seems, I keep my goals to something more reasonable. This is the year I will not lose enough lures and other fishing gear worth the GDP of, say, Uganda. This is the year my hands will smell more of fish than of seaweed (granted this goal doesn’t have the same level of support from my wife and daughter as my first goal).
I will also be more patient than in years past. I fully realize that there will be snags in my line. I will take this in stride and not make wild, frantic gestures while attempting to untangle the line. Some of those past examples were often compared to Clark Griswold trying to get the lights working in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and I don’t want to be accused of copyright infringement, so I’ll try to limit such displays.
I also realize that I will be fishing for some time with absolutely no luck and my daughter, having just come down to say hello, will dip her line in the water and catch the lake equivalent of Moby Dick. I shall not react with tears and obscenities…well not many anyway. I will realize that she hasn’t been on the Earth long enough to warrant the same level of Fishing Gods’ wrath that I certainly have earned as evident by the sheer number of out-of-court settlements for hooks accidentally imbedded in neighbor and their offspring.
I will not rush out of the house to get down to the lake without putting on sunblock. I will responsibly remember to apply copious amounts of the goop to myself to avoid being severely sunburned in what seems to be twenty minutes. I will not return from the lake with enough Noxzema on my body to closely resemble Boris Karloff in the 1932 film The Mummy. I will return home rest assured with the knowledge that I didn’t give in to my temptation to throw caution to the wind for the sake of a few more minutes fishing.
Are all of these goals reasonable? Yep. Are these goals something a man clawing towards forty should be able to accomplish? Without question. Am I confident that I can successfully change my behavior to allow me to do reach these goals? Not at all.
So if you enjoyed your holiday weekend and see a raving man covered in Noxzema swearing up a storm and frantically trying to retrieve a lure connected to a neighbor and hooked to a tangled line, yep, that was me.