The wind is blowing today. That means no fishing. We’re not going to take the Whaler out. We’re going to stay home and go nuts.
We stay in when the wind is blowing 15 miles an hour or more. Fewer black and blue marks that way. Getting knocked against the gunnels is rough on thighs. And then there’s always the chance you’ll get impaled on something.
I don’t mind staying home on a day of very bad weather, but there’s a “Him” factor here. The “Him” factor? That’s when a certain somebody in my household loses his mind because he can’t fish. Fishing is the antidepressant to his forlorn misery of boredom. There is no other cure. Only calmer seas, lost bait, and big bucks poured into that infinite hole in the ocean called a boat.
Terminal boredom, that’s what I call it. Why terminal? Because boredom can kill you. And I know. There’s a great big chasm of boredom that runs right through my living room when we’re not fishing. Fall down in it and there’s no way out. You just drown in the repercussions of not fishing.
The day usually begins like this: “What are you looking for?”
“Nothing,” he replies.
“You must be looking for something.”
“Okay…Something.” And he digs around some more.
“Well, why are you going from closet to closet, room to room, and drawer to drawer? And who’s going to clean up that mess you left on the counter and on the floor?”
“What exactly are you trying to find?” (I don’t know why I ask.)
“I’m looking for my Magic Tuna Killer.”
“It’s on the boat.”
“Well, what’s it doing there?”
“You left it there.”
There are other things he could do in the meanwhile. He has the time, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to do them. He could repair the leaking bathroom faucet. But then he’d have to replace the plumbing, and worse yet, the moldy, squishy wallboard underneath. And he’ll insist, “I don’t do plumbing.”
The silence continues.
I really hate it when a man is silent. When this one won’t answer a question or when he answers a question with a question, it’s like it’s a purposeful evasion based on a lack of commitment.
Two hours later and he’s finally busy. But busy at what? I see he’s in the dining room. He’s stuffing Ballyhoo or “rigging bait” as he calls it. No matter. At least it’s something.
He does this on our dining room table when he’s in the mood and after we’ve lost all the bait on the last fishing trip.
Dead ballyhoo bodies float in a big, briny bowl of water. Their silver scaliness reflects the dining room light. I have to feel sorry for this little baitfish with its humongous underbite. An underbite because its mouth has a congenital exaggeration – a short upper beak and an extremely long lower beak. If a fish could wear braces…
I’m distracted by the slosh of the smelly, saline water onto the embroidered tablecloth. I wonder, does Martha Stewart stuff ballyhoo on her dining room table? Does she have ballyhoo stuffing get-togethers? And how does she remove the smell?
“Boy that’s a lot of Ballyhoo,” I tell him . Wires and hooks are everywhere. Big blind fish eyes gawk and goggle post mortem. No help here for you little fish. No help from any one. No fish deserves an undignified end like this. Oh well, it could be worse. We could drag it through the water live. Nothing like watching some voracious carnivore bite off your behind.
Ballyhoo fins and shiny bellies float, and wait… I watch him run the wires and hooks through their guts and heads. Deliberate, calculated surgery being done here. But no survivors. Not that they were alive when he started.
I ask, “Why do you rig it that way?”
“Because bait rigging is an art.”
Pretentious smart ass. All he had to say was it prevents another fish from coming up and biting off his catch.
“Nope,” I say.
I don’t know what he wants. And I’m not even going to ask. If I don’t help him rig ballyhoo, then maybe he’ll stay busy a little longer. Busy at something. Preoccupied.
I’ll drive the boat, I’ll fish, and I may even clean fish. But…I don’t do bait.