The First Timers' Guide to Fishing
For some strange reason (insert wide, innocent eyes here) I have been the fodder of anecdotes, gossip and outright tall tales my entire life. I have been compared to everything from a Byronic Hero (by my high school English teacher) to a human cartoon character. No idea why. I just kind of do things, think about things, speak about things and write about things in a way different from most other, normal people. In fact, according to my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator profile only about 2% of people in the world have my particular personality leanings.

That being said, I’ve never been one to let not knowing what I was doing slow me down in any sense whatsoever or to keep me from running headlong into what my son likes to refer to as my “adventures”. I suffer from the “If they can do it, surely with me being me, I can do it too.” disease.

You see, at a frighteningly young age I grasped the concept that so long as you *appear* confident - as if you know exactly what you are talking about and/or doing - and are charismatic, the stars generally align and all will kind of work itself out in the end. Needless to say, I have had some rather interesting and what other people might view as comical life experiences - the kind of experiences that people take for granted will happen to me even if there would be a snowball’s chance in h...the oven that they would happen to anyone else.

Taking my son fishing for the first time was no exception.

Note: Everything I’m about to relay to you is absolutely true and it really happened just as I describe it. Also, my son has a rather unusual name. So, in order to protect his identity I will just refer to him throughout this anecdote as Peanut (which is of course obviously short for Peanut Butter and Jelly Head)

The summer before, while visiting a friend in another city, a male friend of ours decided to take my son fishing. My son had a ball and ever since had been constantly begging and begging and begging me to take him fishing.

I was a little leery at first as I had never actually fished a day in my life. Yes, I’ve kinda sorta been in the vicinity of other people while they fished; however, I was too busy “accidentally” kicking over their worm buckets so that the little suckers could burrow for their lives whenever the fisher people’s backs were turned to actually pay attention to what they were doing (past them cutting the worms up into pieces and skewering them).

I imagined myself having to massacre and torture the poor little creatures myself. I imagined having to unhook this poor, wiggly, slimy and angry creature from a hook while it sent secret, irate fish sonar messages to its little friends to attack. In all of my imaginings, I simply did not imagine that fishing was the thing for me. Leaving the “dirty work” to others had worked well for me in my gastronomic life so far. I saw no reason why it should change then.

Still, there was my little Puffy Cheeks with his big, pleading eyes and confident, charismatic ways (no idea where that came from) begging and begging me to take him fishing just once. On top of that, I was stabbed in the back by fate.

We were wandering through a store when we spotted fishing gear on clearance – rods and everything. My son lit up like a sparkler on the fourth of July. Ever so calmly, I explained to my son that I had no idea how to put that stuff together or what all we would need. My adoring son, however, points out to me that that package over there says it’s a complete ready to use kit. (Darn his school and their accursed phonics!)

Having no real viable reason not to, I give in and I get us each a kit. Of course, in my opinion, they were mostly for decorative purposes.

And they were - for a time. Just owning the shiny, new fishing kits made my son deliriously happy – for a time. However, as the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months (and the kits begin to grow cobwebs), Peanut finally begins to realize that he was no closer to going fishing with me then than he had been before we had bought the darn things.

Slowly, but surely the begging begins again. Ok, so he nagged the living...snails out of me until I finally decided to give it a go.

My first step was to look up how to fish on the interweb. Second, to seek advice. I asked a male friend of mine and he was full of optimism and tales of how easy fishing was. He was so confident in fact that I decided I did not really need to re-review my handy, dandy packet o’ information I gleaned from the net. I mean it certainly *looks* easy enough on television and there he was telling me that it’s all easy breezy…beautiful, Covergirl.

So, loading up our complete fishing kits in the car, we decided to head to the beach for a combo beach picnic, frolic and pier fishing day.

After hours of frolicking in the surf and having our picnic, I could put it off no longer. We decided to try our hand at fishing. Okay, so my son nagged the living seashells out of me to get me to agree to try our hands at fishing.

Our adventure began with us taking my “complete ready to fish fishing kit” out of the package and Peanut taking out his Simpson’s pole. While it certainly appeared that all I had to do was to stick the smaller pole into the larger pole, when I opened the package, the reely thingamabob fell off! Apparently they were only going for the *illusion* of easy assembly. But no worries, with no instructions that made any sense to me on the package, assembly was a veritable breeze!

After a while of watching me curse under my breath and engage in questionable assembly practices, Peanut asks some guy walking by for help. This guy takes one look at all of my hard work and he starts laughing. As it turns out, while the reely thing was in fact attached with some tenacity, it was attached incorrectly – backwards and upside down were the terms I believed he used.

So, said gentleman kindly proceeds to destroy all of my hard work in the name of assembling the thing “correctly”. Done, he and his sons strung us up right proper like and hooked us and all (with my artificial bait).

At last, off we go on our journey to find a dock off of which to test our hereto obviously hidden fishing prowess.

I learned many things that holiday weekend day. I learned:

1. A “complete ready to fish kit” does *not* come with easy to understand directions, something to cut the line with or assembled and therefore, is neither complete nor ready. Who knew?!

2. Crappy casting does not fish yield. I guess that’s because there were far too many steps! Flip back this silver thing, then stick your finger up something and press this button. (shrug) If I’d just had a gun, it would have worked out *way* better.

3. I am an expert line tangler. I mean I managed tangles in my line of which world class fishermen can only dream. In the end, I had a big tangly ball of line that completely covered my reely thingie. Some might call this a problem. I call it ensuring continued stability of the hold my reely-ma-bob had on the rod

4. Peanut is a Class A seaweed catcher. I mean he caught balls of the stuff almost as impressive as my line ball. We were both very excited as I think we both secretly longed for a hot steaming dinner of Seaweed soup at the end of the day.

5. My rod made a *way* better rapier than a fishing pole. I easily defeated Peanut in our subsequent sword fight. Okay, fights. (Don’t look at me like that. It’s call repurposing. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle my friend.)

6. Peanut’s rod makes a better sand pencil than mine. Mine was just too floppy to make curvy letters and provide any real structural definition

7. My rod however, because of it’s floppiness (which had originally been a flaw in a sand pencil), made a really cool whooshing sound when flopped back and forth quickly and a really trippy mind scrambling device when one’s eyes tried to follow the tip while engaged thus.

8. Peanut’s rod also made a really nifty walking sticky – of perfect size and strength. Mine on the other hand, due to it’s half-accursed and half-blessed floppiness, was a poor support - even in Gandelf-ish usage.

9. While poking with the rod is good, actual slashing can lead to injury.

Yes, number 9 happened to me. After I poked Peanut a few times with my rod, he gets all over excited and decided to pretend to slash my legs with his. Unfortunately, during all of our adventures (which apparently exceeded the proper, intended use for a fishing rod), the little metal part that made up the round line guide had come loose. As he slid it across my calf, it sliced my calf and my finger while I was trying to move it away.

I bled out pretty good though the actual incisions were pretty small. He got down good into the meat after all. My finger I put in my mouth because of well the antiseptic and coagulative properties of saliva but my calf was another matter entirely. I did not think it appropriate for me to sit down in the sand, lift my leg up and suck on my calf in the middle of a crowded beach.

I instead decide to wade into the water and walk in it until I reach the lifeguard shack and its bandages (as the salt water would help to stem the flow of blood). As I’m walking, my son starts getting all paranoid about sharks scenting the blood. But being the good mother and stand up kind of gal that I happen to be, I assured him that while I might be the shark’s initial attraction, there were many, many people a lot farther from shore that the shark would surely get to before me - thus giving me time to run out of the knee deep water to safety. Peanut was satisfied with this reasoning.

After about an hour of driving home the guilt Peanut should be feeling over my life threatening injuries, we concluded our fishing odyssey. I vowed then that next time, I would leave the fishing to more bored and technically proficient persons and stick to my thawed, fully cooked and served fish.

The end.

I know. I know. I’m awesome.
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