I promised to take the Secrets fishing on Saturday, way back when Saturday was still a long way off. And when it actually arrived, I wished I’d kept my forkin’ mouth shut.
We dragged all the poles and equipment out of the garage, and got everything organized. I made sure there were hooks on every line, and nothing was tangled in a big spaghetti mess.
I got rid of a bunch of stupidity from the bottom of the tackle box, and kept only the stuff we’d really use. I have no idea why there was a rusted spoon in there. And as far as I know, there is never a need for a lure that looks like Phyllis Diller.
Then I had to go somewhere and buy a fishing license…
Years ago I pushed my luck, and banked on the laziness of park rangers for a while. I’d noticed that most people pinned their licenses to their filthy baseball caps, and the rangers just drove past in SUVs, checking things out from the comfort of elevated, air conditioned chairs.
So, for half a summer I took my sons fishing with a Dairy Queen napkin pinned to my hat. And not once was there even a close-call.
But I didn’t fully trust the other fishermen… They seemed to be under the influence of some sort of high-horse outdoorsman code, and eyed my napkin with disdain. I knew it was only a matter of time before one of them turned me in (the pricks), so I ended up going legit.
I thought about trying Dick’s Sporting Goods on Saturday, but the lines are always long and slow-moving in that place. Plus, the parking lot is a multi-pronged clusterfuck. So, as much as it pained me, I decided to just bite the bullet and go to Wal-Mart. It might not be completely horrible, I lied to myself, since I’d be conducting all my business in the sporting goods department.
But the place was absolute pandemonium, a white trash jamboree. Little buzzcut hicklets were wandering the aisles with yesterday’s fudgesicle smeared four inches in every direction around their mouths, their big halter-top mamas screaming at them from great distances, and their grandmothers shuffling around in a stained housecoat, leaning on a four-legged cane, and clutching a pack of Kents inside a leather carrying case, with built-in lighter pocket.
I told the boys to pick out some grubworms, or whatever, so we could lure some unsuspecting fishes to their death. And they disappeared behind a rack of nets and reels.
The guy at the counter asked if he could help me, and I told him I needed a license. “The line starts over there,” he said, and pointed at three or four bored-looking people standing single-file, and occasionally glancing at their watches.
When it was almost my turn, a man walked by cradling a large lizard in the crook of his right arm. The thing was more than a foot and a half long, and was wearing a red dog collar. You think I’m joking? Well, on that count you would be mistaken.
“Can I help you?” the cashier asked.
“Did you see that guy carrying a big lizard?”
“Over there,” I said, and pointed.
“Holy crap, I think it’s an alligator!” he shouted.
I looked a little closer, and he was right. The dude was walking around Wal-Mart with a baby alligator in his arms. I about shit the bicycle helmets.
“You see…” the cashier started, with a twinkle in his eye, “people believe this is an easy place to work. They think it’s all glamour and big bucks. But every night when I go home, I think: what am I gonna drink first?!”
He was a funny guy, who recognized and appreciated the ridiculousness of the situation. I wondered if he might be available for guest columns at the Surf Report.
Then alligator boy walked right up to us. “You got any airsoft guns?” he asked.
“Is that an alligator?” both of us said, ignoring his question.
“Yeah, it is,” he answered, offering no further explanation.
“Well, we don’t sell airsoft guns,” the clerk said, and the man walked away.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before…” I muttered.
“The thing was wearing a goddamn dog collar,” the cashier said.
By the time we got to the lake, one of the fishing poles had gone full spaghetti mess on us. It was the oldest Secret’s, and he wasn’t happy. Somehow five miles of line had come loose, and it was not pretty.
I told him to just use mine, and I’d supervise. He objected for a few minutes, but finally agreed.
It was a perfect day: sunny, not too hot, not too cool, and completely bugless. I sat on a bench and offered “advice,” exchanged text messages with Metten, and performed a little of my amateur “comedy.” Within five minutes both Secrets had left the pier, and taken up residence fifty yards away. Everyone’s a critic…
We stayed there for roughly two hours, and it was nice. And when I say nice, I mean nobody caught anything. Just the way I like it.
As we were packing-up, I mentioned that I was hungry, and both boys agreed with my assessment of the situation. I asked what they wanted, and the younger Secret said, “Donuts!” Oh yeah, I’d willed him to say that.
And this is approximately the conversation I had with the order-board at the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru.
Board: Welcome to Dunkin Donuts, may I take your order?
Me: Yeah, I’ll have a dozen glazed donuts.
Board: Go ahead when you’re ready.
Me: I want a dozen glazed donuts!
Board: I’m sorry?
Me: A dozen glazed donuts!
Board: I’m sorry sir, we’re all out of iced rings.
Me: (WTF?) No, GLAZED! One dozen GLAZED!!
Board: Oh, I apologize, sir. That’ll be 85 cents.
Me: For a dozen??
Board: Oh, you want a dozen?
Me: A DOZEN GLAZED DONUTS!
Board: Pull forward, I’m having trouble hearing you.
Yeah, no shit? What the crap’s an iced ring?
Then I went to a nearby grocery store, bought a 4-pack of Boddingtons, went home, and commenced to taking on massive calories.
It was a good day. What did you do on Saturday? Tell us about it in the comments, won’t you?
And I’ll see ya next time.