For many years now, my basic philosophy on fishing has been: Really . . . what's the point?
The few fishing trips I've been on usually went something like this: Throw a line in the water. Crack a beer. Stare at the line for a while. Crack another beer. Talk about the Orioles bullpen. Crack another beer.
Maybe you're starting to see a pattern here.
Pretty soon the entire fishing party is trashed and not even thinking about the fish and the conversation goes something like this:
" . . . dumped me fer thish real jerk."
"Women. Can't lib with 'em . . . "
"A lifeguard! B'leeve that?"
"You shoulda kicked his butt."
"I shaid, 'Shweetie, yur makin' a big mishtake . . .' "
"Just kicked his . . ."
"Then I met Marlene, 'kay?"
"Just kicked it."
You could do that in a bar and save yourself a whole lot of aggravation, it seems to me.
The other problem I have with fishing revolved around the fish themselves.
The truth is that I was never crazy about, um, touching the fish.
On the exceedingly rare occasions when I actually caught something, I'd say to whomever was with me: "Here's a couple of bucks. Go take that fish off the hook, willya?"
In any event, I somehow assumed my dislike for fishing would be inherited by my kids via some kind of complicated chromosome transfer.
Instead, the older boy developed a real love for the sport. Instead of puffing on Marlboros and leafing through Playboy like any normal 10-year-old, he started spending his time at a nearby fishing hole.
The whole downward cycle continued when he saved up his money and bought a rod and reel and tackle box filled with bobbers and hooks and whatchamacallits . . . lures.
I don't know what got into the boy. You try to bring them up right. You try to give them a little guidance so they don't grow up pulling handguns on terrified convenience store clerks at 3 in the morning.
And then the kid gets into something so . . . well, I don't even want to think about where this will lead.
Anyway, the other afternoon he barges into my office with a fishing rod and says: "Dad, let's see if the fish're biting."
Now what am I going to say?
No, I hate fishing? No, I'm too busy to take you fishing? No, get lost, you're bothering me?
Well, I said all that and he still insisted we go.
In fact, he threw himself down in front of the word processor and locked his arms around the desk and started chanting: FISH! FISH! FISH!
Where do these kids get this stuff, the Berrigans? It was pathetic. I couldn't even think with all that commotion, never mind write.
So finally I said, OK, and we jumped in the car and headed up to the reservoir with our rods. And a six-pack of Diet Coke. Times sure have changed.
You have to picture what happens next.
It's late afternoon when we get there. The shoreline is deserted. The fish are actually jumping out of the water, they're so hungry.
Me, I'm thinking: This is a piece of cake. It'll be like hunting cows. We'll have to beat these fish off with tree branches.
So we put our lines in the water and brace ourselves for some non-stop action.
A half-hour goes by. Nothing. Not a nibble. I can see the fish actually approaching our hooks and then veering off sharply at the last minute. They're looking at our bait like it's week-old garbage.
We change bait. Another half-hour goes by. Nothing. Now I'm bored out of my mind, so I start hitting the Diet Coke pretty heavily.
I'll tell you something about Diet Coke. It's a nice drink and all. But it doesn't do much to cut through the boredom, if you catch my drift.
A six-pack won't fill you with a warm glow and get you reminiscing about the time you caught that winning touchdown pass against Warwick High and how it was the greatest day of your life.
All three cans did for me was make me jumpy. Every time a fish jumped out of the water, I ducked behind a boulder.
Anyway, we stayed another hour and didn't catch a thing, unless you count that submerged branch I hooked. My son had a ball, though. By the time we left, I was on my fifth Diet Coke and starting to see things. My hands were shaking so badly I could hardly get the key in the ignition.
We drove home at about 70 miles per hour, fish-tailing the last 100 yards or so into the driveway.
I don't think we were followed.