On a warm, sunny spring day when I was maybe 7 years old my Dad took me fishing. He took me fishing once, and only once.
The fish were running so thick on the Potomac River you could just about scoop them out of the water with a net if you wanted. We loaded up our gray Rambler with fishing gear and the night crawlers I had dug out of the soft brown soil in the flower bed. We drove to a stretch of river access with easy parking against a grass lined paved walkway dotted with benches. A railing separated the walkway from the water. We set ourselves up on a bench and I was given a pole and directed to bait the hook. I spent several minutes fumbling with the hook and out of concern for the safety of my fingers Dad took over and skewered a large earthworm for me.
I was more interested in skipping back and forth along the railing, looking at the fish teeming just below the water’s surface. When our lines were ready I was given a casting lesson and standing patiently along the railed walkway I waited for the action to begin. When it seemed the waiting was unproductive given the obvious presence of plenty of fish in the water, Dad had me jerk on the line as I walked along the edge of the railing which resulted pretty quickly in a snagged fish! I squealed with glee with each catch and it took little time for me to fill our bucket.
I had no idea this bucket full of wriggly fish was intended to be the evening’s fish fry. So, I gave them away. Dad reacted visibly but did not overrule my gift giving. I offered them to the folks that were fishing next to us when they admired our catch and they were happy to receive them. Indicative of my parents’ approach to child rearing it was assumed that I knew what was going on and that we were going to eat the fish Dad and I caught. In all likelihood there most certainly there had been some conversation to this effect that I had tuned out. The white noise of parental pontification was often the background noise upon which I staged my juvenile thought life. They must have questioned my sensibilities often.
Dad was quiet on the drive home. I’d had a great time, and I suggested that a hamburger and fries from that snappy new McDonald’s drive-in would be a fitting end to the day. When we stepped through the front door Dad’s proclamation regarding my generosity betrayed his real feelings. I didn’t see the problem, but like I said, he only took me fishing once.
Fish fry? Not for me – but thanks anyway.