Living in a small town of 4,000 people, there were many times when we had to entertain ourselves as opposed to driving all the way to Kansas City for fun. With five kids, Mom and Dad often would opt for the cheapest entertainment they could find. Often times that was fishing at my great aunt and uncle’s farm.
Aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents would join us, making it a family day. The adults would fish and gossip as all the kids would run around, scare cattle, attempt to catch frogs and play hide and seek in the woods that flanked the large lake.
Every so often the older kids – Paul, our cousin Jason and I – would have the opportunity to fish, which because of our younger ages consisted of “bobber watch.” An adult would cast, and we’d hold the pole until the bobber dipped, then an adult would take over and haul in the catch.
Prior to “bobber watch,” our parents thought we were up for fishing on our own, but then I had to go and ruin all the fun. I grew bored waiting for the bobber to be pulled underwater, and next thing I knew, my fishing pole was being ripped out of my hands and drug down into the depths of the lake by whatever I had managed to catch (although, I clearly must use that term very loosely).
As we grew, Mom and Dad finally thought it was time for the five of us to graduate from “bobber watch” to bamboo fishing poles. We each got a bamboo rod for ourselves. Because they are not traditional poles with rods and reels, Mom instructed all of us that once we felt a jerk at the end of our poles to tug on it, pulling the fish out of the water. Then she or Dad would unhook it for us.
So we set to fishing.
Paul was the first to get a bite. He pulled the fish out perfectly. The rest of us saw how it worked and awaited our turns.
Brandy was next. Instead of tugging, she took off running backward. The fish’s normal out-of-water dance was magnified 20 times as it bounced off the lake’s bank. We all had a good laugh at the girly-girl running away from the fish.
Then it was my turn. I felt the tug as my worm was munched up. Just as Mom said I pulled the fish. However, instead of just your normal, everyday tug, I yanked that bad boy as though someone had held out an arm full of $1,000 bills for my taking.
That fish flew out of the water in such a high and fast arc that, to this day, Mom swears the fish had died of fright before it slammed into the ground at a good 100 miles an hour.
Nearly immediately after I was promoted to a proper fishing pole, reel and all (of course, after swearing on my life to give the fishing pole my full attention). No one really felt keen on eating fish that had every bone in their bodies broken.