You know how it goes. Amazon packages show up in your mailbox. They contain strange things, things you can’t name or fathom, but which gross you out. Tiny fake frogs. Fuzzy things with bright-red hair and a head-like thing on the end. In the really big box, boots that come up to approximately chest level. Little boxes for storing all these things. Leashes for holding these things. Hooks, spools, red-and-white balls you know are bobbers.
There are at least eight, maybe ten, fishing poles in your house, only a few fisherman — and one of them’s a damn toddler so he probably shouldn’t count. But even he has his freaking Paw Patrol rod and reel. Because fishing. Because he counts.
And as the only non-angler in the house, you are a fishing hostage.
It starts early in the morning, many days. Hubs sneaks out in darkness, rod and reel and whatever the hell else you need to catch these slippery aquatic creatures. He spends the morning on (in) the river, where bald eagles buzz him and herons croak their dinosaur caws. Ospreys let loose their high, clear calls, and he reels in bass, striper, sunfish. The sunrise turns the river to gold, and his next catch is a smallmouth bass, all mean red eyes and fight. He stays till somewhere around 9.
But you — you wake at 6 o’clock to someone yelling, “I peeeeeed!” You ascertain it’s the toddler, heave yourself out of bed. You strip off urine-soaked Paw Patrol pajamas and put him into his clothes, which he hates, which he complains about. Then it’s into the living room, and he’s begging for Octonauts or Ninjago or Scooby-Doo. You stumble into the kitchen, somehow, all bleary eyes and stiff back, and manage to reheat coffee. By then he’s yowling for toast, and someone else has woken up, and they also want toast. Your coffee beeps. You are too busy making toast to prepare it. Toast shoved at the children, you heave yourself onto the couch like a beached whale, mainline coffee, and surf the internet. The kids stare endlessly, shamelessly at the TV. This is how the hubs discovers you when he arrives home, all fresh-faced, exhilarated, and stinking of catfish.
Then there are the family fishing trips.
You try: You bring a book to amuse yourself, and clutch it to your chest as everyone tromps through the woods to some river or stream. The kids all need something at the same time: a bobber, a hook untangled, a new worm. There’s not enough of your husband to go around, especially because he’s fishing too, and you end up on worm-stabbing duty.
There are mosquitos. Someone catches a fish, and everyone cries that they didn’t catch the fish. Then someone else catches a fish, and — whiz-bang! — it’s a fighter, and for approximately one minute everything’s interesting. Then they have to unhook it, which is super gross because it bleeds through the gills. Then they have to hold it, and if this “they” isn’t your husband, they drop it. It hits hard and flops impotently, grossly, and you back up and yell at them to pick it up. For the love of all things holy, pick it up! They pick it up. They pose. You have to take a million pictures of them grinning and squeezing the shit out of the fish. Then they let it go. It swims away dizzily, and they start again.
This happens over and over.
Or it doesn’t, and everyone gets pissed off that they aren’t catching fish. You sit there with your book not caring, except they start to cry. Then you’re forced into caring.
There is lots of yelling about not putting the hook through your hand/thumb/eyeball or your brother’s hand/thumb/eyeball.
You could stay home. And the offer is always extended. But then you’d just mope. You’d feel selfish; you’d miss the kids. You’d feel sad at missing their joy over a fish caught, even if it totally grosses you out. You’d get bored and probably just sweep floors, dust high shelves, and fold laundry. Eventually you’d get so sick of it you’d take a nap just to pass the time. And while a nap would be downright luxurious, absolutely wonderful — well, it doesn’t compare to the joy on your kids’ faces, no matter how much you hate the reason for it.
So you tag along. You bring your book, but just end up stabbing nightcrawlers on to hooks that are then waved in your face or casted into your hair. They offer to let you hold the fish. You decline. But it’s sweet, a kind of love language you just happen to find repellent. You hate fish. You hate fishing. But you’re glad for them. Even if you are ditched with the kids or relegated to worm-stabbing when it becomes a family adventure.