Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Legend of the Co-Angler: A Sociological Study In Two Parts

As I have explained before, the fishing tournaments Buster and I attend require each "boater" to draw a random "Co-Angler" to sit in the stern and fish and also to make sure we don't cheat during the tournament - which I absolutely would do at this point.

Most people begin their fishing lives as a "Co-Angler" in order to learn the ropes. I did that once and the great, lumpy, velcro-shoed, beard-eater I was paired with absolutely traumatized me with his two-speed bass boat. It was either "off" or "WIDE OPEN" and my highly-developed sense of personal safety just won't allow for it. After our first long run of the day, Velcro-Shoes looked over at me kind of hard and said "Son there is no sense in all that hollering". Apparently, he didn't care for "wordless screams of anguish" before 7:00AM.  At the time I didn't realize that sound was coming out of me. So, I skipped over the Co-Angler stage, went home and bought my own boat. The result is - I don't know "the" ropes, or "any" ropes, or even "where they at" (to borrow a phrase from Mr. Velcro Shoes) and, as a result, nearly everything I do is wrong.

At the most recent "pre-tournament meeting" we were assigned Co-Anglers and Buster and I each placed a phone call to co-ordinate a meeting time. I dialed the number given me and, when a woman's voice answered, I said "Hello, I'm calling for Aaron".

"Hello. Yes. This is E-r-i-n" the female voice clearly enunciated.

I stood there in a rural Wal-Mart parking lot surrounded by enormous, ruddy-faced men from all walks of life, with not a single woman in sight, and I was dumbfounded - rooted to the spot; mind straining against the bounds of reason and The Universe to accept what had just befallen me.

At no point in my entire one-and-a-half years of amateur tournament fishing have I even contemplated the existence of a lady co-angler. It never occurred to me that a woman would intentionally put herself at the mercy of a strange man in a 75mph aquatic death machine. My experience with women suggests they are far too intuitive a breed to make such an egregious error in judgment.

Just then, Buster appeared out of the crowd.

You call your co-angler? He growled.
Yeah. I called that woman about fishing. I burbled mindlessly.
What in the world are you talking about? He said, beginning to generate what I have come know as his "patient face."
What? What are you talking about? He insisted again, sensing my distress. You mean you DREW A WOMAN CO-ANGLER? He cackled, gleefully.
Yes. That.
Ha!! You have to let her pee in your livewell!!!! Hahahahahahaa!!! He cackled, drawing a crowd. Jimmy drew a WOMAN Co-angler and she's going to pee in his livewell!!

In retrospect, getting from "drew a woman co-angler" to "livewell urination" was an incredibly rapid escalation, even for an Uncle, but he seemed so pleased that I didn't attempt to argue. Slowly, the earth came back into focus and what had immediately occurred to him began to dawn on me: nobody goes 9 hours without urinating unless something really big is happening like - The President is asleep across your legs, or your arm is in a lion's mouth - that kind of thing.


Then, he abruptly left, leaving me at the center of a growing circle of burly, outdoorsmen intent on offering completely unhelpful advice regarding the possibilities inherent in a strange woman spending the day in your boat.

Suddenly, the reverse hit me - what happens when a man has to pee and there sits a strange female - not 8 feet away on the open water?

I am a problem solver. I resolved to "hold it."

The following morning dawned clear and I met my lady co-angler. She was wonderful. I began to mentally prepare for an epic day of fishing with a delightful partner instead of the general run of crusty, disgruntled, middle-aged men I've been saddled with in the past. Suddenly, roughly 6 minutes into our day - I had to pee. It was 5:14AM and we were still at the ramp, but I had to go - bad. Three cups of coffee and a gallon of Gatorade did not put me on the pathway to "holding it".

Err. E-r-i-n. Eh. I, you know.
You ok? Forget something?
Ah. No. I mean ah. Well. I got to go.
Yeah, lets go! We're gonna catch em! YEAH!
No. I mean I got to ah... Eh. "Go."
Ohhhhhh. Oh. Ok. Yeah. Ok. Ah. Well....I just won't look then.
....Eh. Ok.

It got awkward.

I stood perched on the bow of the boat and, for the first time in my life, I got nervous. I don't generally urinate in front of strange women. It's not really my thing. I can't get into it.

I just couldn't do it. It got weirder. I stood on the front of the boat waving and bobbing for three of the longest minutes of my life thinking about watefalls, urinals, the ocean....Nothing.

Don't worry about me! Just take your time. She whispered encouragingly from the stern.

I cringed and broke a sweat.

Eh. I don't normally have this problem! I whispered back. (I don't know why we were whispering, but it seemed appropriate).

A few more moments passed. The silence grew oppressive.

Ah. Could you make some noise or sing a song or something? I whispered, to dispel the awkwardness.

What??! Ah. Ok!?!? Seriously? Ah. Ok. Eh. Ahmmmm Hummm mmm. Ammhmmm. Hmmm. Huummmmm. She began the first few bars of "Away in A Manger" for some reason which really threw me off.

No. No. No. No. Stop. Stop. Stop. I'm kidding. That was a joke. Heh heh. Heh.

More time passed.

I reached a point of complete focus and enlightenment as my tonsils began to float. I understood eternity. I contemplated cold fusion. I was SO close to the answers!

And finally, mercifully, success!

That may have been the ultimate "ice breaker" and we had a great day afield. I learned to manage "performance anxiety" and successfully relieved myself no less than 4 times throughout the day without a hitch. It became a point of pride.

Through all that - somehow, in 9 straight hours of fishing - she never once called for the livewell. I don't know how she did it.

So, thanks E-r-i-n. You're a great fisher-woman-person. And thanks for not peeing in my boat!

1 comment:

K@ said...

God bless you Tyler Davenport!