My friend Jimmy asked if I wanted to join him and a couple of his buddies for a little fishing this weekend. Regrettably I declined. I haven’t cast a line since I was ten, and for good reason.
My lone unfortunate experience with a rod and reel took place at sleep-away camp. I’d never fished before but had decided to give the pastime a try, mainly because my own counselor, Randy, happened to serve as the fishing instructor. One crisp morning at the crack of dawn, I accompanied him and six campers to a picturesque, tree-lined area at the lake’s edge. Randy distributed poles to each of us and demonstrated how to cast. After I practiced a few times he seemed marginally satisfied with my technique. He told me to sit tight while he readied the bait for everyone.
By then I’d already begun to feel like a true fisherman. I imagined myself casting out and hooking the mother of all catfish. In my mind I vividly pictured the ensuing fight to the death, as one man pitted his strength against raw nature.
Distracted by the fantasy, I didn’t realize I’d actually grabbed my rod and attempted a mighty cast toward the lake. I discovered the reality only when the abrupt suspension of my arm’s forward progress broke my reverie. Logically (albeit incorrectly as it happened), I assumed the fish hook must’ve snagged on a tree branch to my rear.
Instead of turning round and verifying my conclusion, I simply tugged the line as hard as I could to force it free. That’s when a muffled, gurgling scream erupted behind me. Belatedly, I pivoted and commenced surveying the scene. It didn’t take long to identify the source of the commotion. Indeed, my eyes couldn’t help but follow the trail of the fishing line all the way to the hook’s surprising terminus … embedded in Randy’s cheek.
I’d wanted to snag a big one, and I suppose I succeeded. Not unexpectedly, at the same time I also succeeded in adding another activity to an already extensive list of those strictly forbidden me for the rest of that summer.