Friday, November 19, 2010

Bam-Bam, the Fish, and the Universe

My dad died when I was twelve and my baby brother was three.

(Relax. This isn't going to be a maudlin post.)

My older brothers and I did our best to help Mom with, oh, let's call him "Bam-Bam." Because that's what we did call him. See, he had this little wooden hammer, and was not bashful about using it...but that's not really germane to this story.

One of my dad's favorite pastimes was fishing. We'd go to the lake in the summer, and stay for a few days or a week, depending on how much time off Dad could get. He would spend every spare second down on the dock, fishing. My older brothers spent their fair share of time there with him, proudly holding their rods. (Heh-heh.)

I'd join them sometimes, mainly to watch. And *cough* possibly to make a lot of noise, trying to scare the fish away before they were hooked. (Yeah, imagine how popular I was with the menfolk.) What can I say? I was a soft-hearted twerp. Besides, the worms were icky. I couldn't bear to squish them onto the hooks myself, and even when my dad did it for me, it still freaked me out. I mean, eew. Worm guts.

So I spent most of my time in the camp's rec room, playing ping-pong and drinking Delaware Punch (the only non-carbonated beverage in the soda machine. Oh, and reading, of course. Good times.

Bam-Bam wasn't old enough for any quality dock time before Dad died, but he'd heard stories. When he was about six, he got it into his head that he wanted to go fishing, just like his daddy. My other brothers were busy doing teenage boy things, and Mom didn't fish, so I figured it was up to me.

Trouble was, I still couldn't stand to, you know...

 Which was really fine, because I sure as heck didn't want to deal with... actual fish.

See, what I had in mind was a nice afternoon bonding with my baby brother while he dangled a worm-less hook in the water. Pretending to fish. After all, just holding the pole was the important part. (Honest to God, I tried to come up with a way to not make that sound like a double entendre, but I don't think there is one.) Anyway, no worm, no possibility I'd have to deal with a fish, right?

Ha. Hahahahahahaha. HA! <--Hysterical Hindsight Laughter

So, what do you suppose happened the very first time Bam-Bam dropped that hook in the water, and jerked it back out in his sheer enthusiasm for the activity?

That's right. He hooked a fish. Through its back.

There, dangling from Bam-Bam's fishing line, was a four-inch, silver-gray fish who was suddenly having a very bad day.

Picture it: you are the Einstein of fishes, much too smart to snap at a worm on a hook. No, you'd rather starve than place your mouth on any strangely still, hook-shaped worms. Because you know better. And then out of nowhere comes a freakin' worm-free hook, speeding through the water above you, and before you can wiggle your tail and swim away you are suspended in front of a six-year-old human boy shrieking, "Can we eat it? Huh? Can we eat it?"

Like I said. Bad day for the fish. (And me--I had to *shudder* take the hook out.) But Best Day Ever for my baby brother, even though I had to explain to him that we had to throw the fish back because it was too small to keep. Didn't matter to him. He'd caught his fish.

There's a lesson in there somewhere. Something about never taking anything for granted. Or about how life can surprise you in the damndest ways. Or how, even when the odds are against you, things sometimes work out. Or perhaps how point of view is everything (think of the fish). Take your pick. Me, I just look back on it and laugh.

How about you? Has life handed you any small surprises? How'd they work out for you?

P.S. Speaking of worms, there's still time to enter my SAVE THE WORMS contest. Have you saved a worm today?


Bren said...

LOL, great story, Linda. I could picture it as I read. I'm with you about the worms. Ew.

Teri Anne Stanley said...

I'm thinking the lesson might be along the lines of "The best laid plans of mice and men" ?

Pretty much my whole life has been like this. Isn't there a proverb about "Man plans, God laughs"?

Unknown said...

GREAT post Linda, I laughed, I...well, I admit that I did snicker over the pole thing, but it's true. Pole holding is very important;)

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Ah, i love a good fishing story. What a good big sister you were. What I hate about putting the worm on the hook is when it tenses up as soon as it feels the hook. Aaargh! And taking fish off the hook isn't much better but I'd rather do that all day than hook the worms *shudder*

Kerry Schafer said...

See, if you were writing that story as fiction you'd never, ever be able to make that up. Another reason why I love life - always waiting to present the ironic surprise. Which, I admit, is often funny later. Much later. And not in the moment it is offered up.

Linda G. said...

Brenda -- I'm afraid I didn't do justice to the surprise I felt when it happened. I truly was flabbergasted.

Teri Anne -- Exactly. Which why now I try never to get too attached to any of my plans. ;)

Karla -- Ha. Glad I'm not the only one snickering over that. ;)

KarenG -- Nothing worse than tense worms. *shuddering too*

Kerry -- Hand to heart, it happened. Could have knocked me over with a feather. And yeah about some things becoming funny only after the fact. I have some college experiences that would fall into that category. ;)

Dianne K. Salerni said...


I really hope that reading this blog -- right before I took a phone call with some disappointing news -- is a sign that life holds some surprises.

I feel as if I'm standing here right now, with a wormless hook. There is no fish in sight, but I guess I don't know what I might hook if I just throw my line in, huh?

Linda G. said...

Dianne -- Sorry about your disappointing news. :( And, yes, throw that line in the water. Because, truly, you never know what could happen. :)

Unknown said...

Awesome story, Linda. The little joys are the best; thanks for reminding me.

Jennifer Shirk said...

LOL!! It was just that fish's time.
I won a book on a blog a few weeks ago and I didn't even know there was a contest going on. That was a nice surprise. :)

demery said...

What a well-written story! Sweet and funny. I love the optimism and simple joys little ones can feel. And, really, what are the odds of a wormless hook catching a fish?!?

One of my little brothers caught a big sticker bush the first time he fished - but he was still so little he thought it was a fish. Was VERY proud - and we just kept right on letting him feel that way.

Like Diane, I received some disappointing news yesterday. Will keep trying casting the line out b/c you never know.

Lenny Lee said...

hi miss linda! you got me laughing with that fish story. mostly girls dont like worms. for me i think theyre pretty coolspecailly those big fat crawly ones. i went fishing just a couple times but mostly didnt like it cause i dont like hurting anything not a worm or a fish. i didnt ever eat a fish after that...or a worm. ha ha. i hope you have a fun weekend.
...hugs from lenny

Linda G. said...

Jeannie -- They are, aren't they? And so easy to overlook. I have to remind myself sometimes that so much of life is about which direction we choose to look.

Jennifer -- That IS a nice surprise. I love winning books.

Demery -- Thanks! Your little brother story is cute, too. Sorry you had some bad news, too. Keep casting out that line! If nothing else, it's great exercise for the arms. ;)

Lenny -- My son LOVED earthworms when he was little. Every day when we walked to his school, we'd have to stop and put all the worms that had crawled onto the sidewalk back into the grass, so they could hide from the birds. Like you, he couldn't stand the thought of hurting them. I hope you're having a nice weekend, too! :)

Lola Sharp said...

Oh, crack me up. You should be a writer or something, 'cause this was sweet and funny.

Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

abby mumford said...

you're the best big sister! you can worm your way out of having to bait the fishing hook and yet, your little bro will still catch a fish.

magic indeed.

thanks for the worm free story!

Kelly Breakey said...

I totally see the worm theme. I realize I read the entries out of order and am commenting out of order as well, but I am still bitter about not winning any sour worms. I am now complaining to all of my office tweeps. Maybe someone will be compelled to buy me some at lunch. Hey, a girl can dream.

Linda G. said...

Lola -- Aw, thanks. :)

Abby -- You're so welcome, and thank YOU, too.

Kelly -- I hope you got your sour worms! :)