I've been thinking about the old man again. Not a day goes by when I don't miss him. I shall never see his like again.
I've been thinking about the times he, my brother and I were out on the old boat. Some of my happiest memories are of us in the boat. He'd often be in a happy mood, and he'd start telling us his old stories again in his rough voice and his inimitable style. As we got older, the stories would change a little. we'd say: "Whoa! you never mentioned that before."
Him: You're older now.
Us: Does Mom know about that?
Him: Are you nuts? Do I look stupid to you?
Those fishing trips were something he'd look forward to all year long, even though it must have been trying on his patience sometimes.
My brother: Dad, my line's snarled.
Dad: What? Okay. Take my rod and give me yours. Any fish you catch on my rod is mine.
He would take the rod and start fixing the snarl. These things happen. No big deal.
Dad: Fixed. Take your rod and
Me: Dad, my line is snarled now.
Dad: What? Oh, fine. Here. You take my rod and I'll fix the snarl and
Me: any fish I catch is yours. Got it.
Dad would start fixing my line, but now he was a little put out. This was starting to cut into his fishing time.
Dad: There, you take your rod and
Me: Now you have a snarl.
Dad: What the hell. Give me that rod. Grrrr.
Now as he was working to untangle the line he was muttering sharply under his breath, sounding more than a little like Yosemite Sam, but with a steadily increasing volume.
Dad: Razzle Fracking mumble mumble work all year just to untangle knots bleeding bleep bloop what did those kids do think I got it no that's not it you got to be kidding me what is going on here DARN IT THAT'S IT WHERE ARE THE CUTTERS?
My bother and I were trying not to break out laughing. Somehow, we thought Dad in this mood was just hilarious. If he caught us laughing at him, then he would get really angry, and threaten us with a long swim home, though I am mostly certain he didn't really mean it.
But though we sometimes laughed at him, he also could show us that he had one of the rarest of gifts: he could laugh at himself, or at least see some irony in the situation. One day, when the fish weren't really biting, and it looked like none of us would claim the bet for the first, most and biggest, he reeled in his line and started in with one of his "I'm going to turn this mess around" spiels.
Dad, as he was going through his tackle box: Y'know, I got a lucky lure in here. I bought it a while back, and I've been saving it for a special occasion. I think I'll break it out right now. Here it is.
He pulled the lure out of his box. It was still in its wrapper.
Dad: I knew this was lucky the moment I saw it. The fish will be jumping out of the water to get this one. I don't understand why you two don't just hand your money over to me now and save yourself some trouble.
He kept on talking in that vein as he opened up his snap swivel and took his old lure off his line and put it back in his box. He pulled the lucky wrapping off the lucky lure, and gave the lure some of his lucky spit to increase the already prodigious luck of the thing. He carefully placed the lure on the snap swivel, forgot to close the snap swivel, drew back his rod, and threw the lucky lure out with a mighty cast. It flew off the swivel and out into the lake, never to be seen again.
Dad was mostly silent for a moment, staring at the spot where his lucky lure disappeared, muttering something under his breath we couldn't make out before he turned to us.
Dad: and you know what the worst part of it is? I got no one to blame but myself. I can't even blame you two knuckleheads for this. It was all me. Sigh. Pause. I guess I need another lure. I think I'll use... this one.
Me: Is it lucky?
Dad: Ha ha ha. Very funny, smart aleck. Feel like swimming back, do you?