Find your child. Not the one you left at the mall or forgot to pick up at soccer practice. No, I’m referring to the one who lives deep down in your gut. You know the one. The one who made you poop in your buddy’s tent on that camping trip that one time. Or the one who makes you slap yourself in the face with a Snickers bar as if it was a giant chocolate penis, just for a laugh. These childlike antics are as important to my fishing as the fishing itself.
I have become somewhat of a split personality. I go about most of my days in a 37-year-old way. I pay my bills, I interact with people in a professional manner, and I try to teach my kids not to be douchebags. All very normal, all very responsible.
That is, until I fish. I drink, I smoke, I cuss. And on more than one occasion, I’ve donned a Sasquatch costume.
I feel like my crazy side and my “normal” side are complementary, in a healthy, divergent sort of way. I am a better person with both sides happy, co-mingling. The crazy side makes the normal side more tolerable on a daily basis, and the normal side keeps me out of jail.
Jail sucks. The food sucks. The mattresses suck. And waking up next to a real criminal (not a fun criminal) is the worst of all. If you’ve ever fished with me, you know that I am a walking yard sale. I lose keys, phones, and wallets on a regular basis. “Dammit Dave” is not only a soon-to-be copyrighted catch phrase, it is my friends’ fishing trip mantra (when they’re foolish enough to include me). The illusion: these incidents plague me due to drunkenness, laziness, or just plain dumbassery.
The truth: these things happen because once I am fishing, the normal stuff just doesn’t matter anymore; I’m free of those societal burdens. I’ll find a locksmith, I’ll call the bank, my wife, or the phone company, but not until the fishing is done and I have milked every last ounce of joy out of it.
I am not a young man anymore, but with every trip ventured, I feel more like me, and less like someone I never wanted to grow up to be. It is now very evident to me that every mile traveled in pursuit of fish is one mile less on the road to mental apathy.