It's a well-known fact that women love to shop, especially during the Christmas season. My wife, Sue, is no exception. She oftentimes talks me into going shopping with her this time of year by telling me that she would like my advice on Christmas gifts she is considering for others. Every year I fall victim to this female trickery.
It's not that I dislike spending time with her traipsing from one store to another, most of which have the same stuff to look at, touch, hold it up for a thorough inspection, place back on the rack and go to the next item for the same routine. I feel it my husbandly obligation to fight the throngs of inconsiderate people all of whom are in a hurry and armed with the self-possessed God-given right to knock whoever gets in their way half way across the next isle. I feel it my obligation to protect her from harm in the "bumper car-style" driving in the parking lots, and to stand in line for long periods of time with heavily burdened, sagging, aching arms and shoulders inching our way to the counter to order a sandwich in one of the mall eateries so she can enjoy the spirit of the season. Since she seems to enjoy my company during her shopping forays, I decided it was time to show her just how much I'd enjoyed having her with me when I'm doing something that I truly enjoy.
Sue likes being outdoors during the warm months of the year, so I get this bright idea that she'd enjoy sharing quality time with me when I go fishing. If she objected, I planned to remind her that I had gone Christmas shopping with her several times and that I thought it only fair that she spend some time with me doing what I like to do.
I asked; she balked. I mentioned our Christmas shopping adventures; I could see her defenses begin to weaken. To help sway her, I told her that spending time on a boat was a great way to relax and enjoy a few quiet hours away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
When the day arrived for our outing, to do her part, she fixed a lunch while I got the boat ready, and we were off to Stonewall Jackson Lake. She helped me get the boat in the water and the essentials onboard. I parked the truck and trailer while she held the towline so the boat wouldn't meander off down the lake on its own. Soon we were putt-putting down the lake on mirror-smooth water.
A few minutes went by and she asked, "Why are we going so slow?"
"We're in a 'no wake' zone," I replied.
"What's that mean?"
"That means we can't go so fast as to leave a wave behind the boat. They do that to reduce erosion of the banks." She didn't understand, but let it go at that.
"How far do we have to go like this?"
"From where we put in, it's about two miles to the main lake. Why?"
"Oh, no reason," she said. "I was just thinking though, if we have to go so slow, why aren't you fishing as we go? Trolling I think I've heard it called."
I didn't answer.
After reaching the main lake and making a high-speed run to one of my favorite fishing coves, I slowed to a stop, raised the engine to trolling depth and flipped the trolling motor into the water. As I eased the boat over to casing distance from the shore, she dug out a couple magazines and a "search-a-word" book and drifted off into a world of her own. Before she did, though, I asked her if she'd like for me to fix a pole for her so she could try her luck. She said, "No, I'll just read a while."
After about 10 or 15 minutes of casing my favorite lure, a spinnerbait, I got a hit. I knew it wasn't very big, but the splashing jerked Sue from her "search-a-word" concentration and she hollered, "You got one, you got one!"
"Yeah, but it's not very big," I said.
As I swung the hapless little fellow into the boat, it came off the hook and began flopping in Sue's direction. She was sitting on one of the seats along the side of the boat with her back to the water. She jerked her feet up as though a cottonmouth water moccasin had dropped by to say good morning. As she jerked her feet up, she tilted backward and nearly back-flipped into the water. She righted herself but now her feet were back on the floor with the poor little fish jumping all over the place. I think she was wishing she had ended up in the water.
I said, "Calm down. He can't hurt you he's just a little fish trying to get back in the water."
"I know," came the shriek, "but he's all slimy. I don't want him near me!"
I chased him down and flipped him back into the water. Calm came back over the world.
"How come you have so many fishing poles laying there?" At least she was still speaking to me.
"Would you like me to fix one for you?" I asked again.
"No, I wouldn't like you to fix one for me!" she shot back. Did I detect a note of sarcasm? "I just wanted to know why you need so many fishing poles when you can only use one at a time."
Oh boy, is this trip going to be short? I thought.
"Well, each is rigged for a different lure," I tried to explain. "By having three or four poles rigged and ready, you can change from one fishing technique to another without having to take time to rig the pole it's already rigged and ready."
She looked at me with a blank stare. I don't think she understood my logic.
"I'd be happy to show you how to use one of them if you'd like me to it isn't hard."
"Nah. Anyway, what would I do if I caught something?" she said.
"There's only one way to find out," I told her. This was, after all, a time when I wanted her to enjoy quality time with me as much as she seemed to enjoy my going shopping with her.
She agreed to give it a try, so I rigged a pole with a night crawler, knowing not to ask her if she wanted to bait the hook. I showed her how to work the bait to make it more attractive to a fish should one swim by. After I put fresh bait on her hook two or three times, she got a hit. If shrieking and squealing is an indication of having fun, she was having the time of her life. The fish escaped before she got it to the boat. Apparently that was all the excitement she could stand for she didn't want to do any more fishing.
Around mid-morning, she was tired of the gentle swaying of the boat, search-a-word, the book she brought along to read, slapping at biting bugs, me and everything else in the world of fishing.
When I went shopping with her, I could always jump in the car and go home when I'd had enough, but I had her trapped on the boat. She was at my mercy and my mercy said that it would be easier and cheaper and my stay in the doghouse would be a lot shorter if I was to get her back on solid ground and the sooner the better.
On the way back to the dock, I toyed with the idea of asking her if she would like to go hunting, but I didn't.
I'll probably go shopping with her again, but I have some serious doubts about her going fishing again. Life just isn't fair.
Merry Christmas everyone.
Don't forget to attend the annual senior citizens' dinner, pageant and party tomorrow at Orchard Hall. Activities will get under way at 2 p.m., but it would be a good idea to get there early in order to get a good seat. It is one of if not the premier event for seniors during the Christmas season, there is no charge and the food is great.