Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Fat Man and the Sea

Sorry I haven't posted in the last week or so. I spent the end of last week busily trying to clear my desk so I could spend a long weekend mooching off my in-laws in Florida, which is exactly what I ended up doing.

It sometimes seems that Florida is home to more Clevelanders than Northeast Ohio. Every time I'm in the Sunshine State, I find an abundance of Ohio plates, and a fair number of people dressed in Indians, Browns, and even Buckeyes apparel. I guess that wouldn't be surprising if I was in Winter Haven, but I was in South Florida, and I still saw a lot of Cleveland logos on display at the simply awful exhibition of baseball that I witnessed the Orioles and Dodgers put on in Fort Lauderdale last Saturday.

How bad was it? Well, despite a scorer whose charity would've humbled Mother Theresa, there were six errors in the first four innings, including two by Miguel Tejada. In the top of the 5th, they actually turned off the portion of the scoreboard that showed errors. After all, you don't want to see anyone suffer a season ending self-esteem injury during a meaningless Spring Training game.

The quality of the game wasn't real good, but it's still true that a bad day at the ballpark is better than a great day at the office, so I've got no complaints. Nevertheless, the ballgame wasn't the highlight of the trip. That honor goes to the next day's fishing trip. My sons and I went out on a fishing charter with my father-in-law. We took a fishing trip the last time we went to Florida about three years ago, but that was in January, when the fishing isn't particularly good. The only fish we caught that day were two Kingfish, which are fun to catch but have grey meat that tastes like an ashtray. By the way, if a fishing guide ever tells you to prepare your fish by first soaking it in milk for an hour, make sure to do that, and then instead of grilling or broiling the fish, I recommend that you throw it the hell away.

Sunday's expedition was much more productive. We caught one Kingfish, but we also caught four Dolphin. Okay, before you get your nose out of joint, let me assure you that we didn't kill Flipper, who was a mammal anyway and is, I'm sorry to say, already dead. Nope, we caught what you probably know as Mahi-Mahi, which is one of the most beautiful fish in the ocean and tastes awesome as well. My in-laws invited some friends over and we all pigged out on it that night, and still had more than enough to give a meal to the other two families in my in-laws condominium complex.

But, of course, it wouldn't be a fish story without the one that got away, and this time, the one that got away was a Sailfish, maybe the biggest prize that you can get off the Florida coast. Our captain found one, and he actually took a nibble on each of the four lines that we had in the water, but we couldn't get him to grab the hook. We felt him hit, and tried to set the hook, but he'd already backed off the bait each time we tried. What a shame. Catching a fish like that is an experience that has inspired not just countless fishing stories, but perhaps the Fishing Story, so it would've been something to tell you about, that's for sure.

I didn't catch my Sailfish, and I'm sure that Hemingway and Santiago would agree that nobody on our boat was worthy of the great DiMaggio, "who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel." Nevertheless, we still ended up with bellies full of Mahi-Mahi, and it's fair to say that we all came a hell of a lot closer to DiMaggio's standards last weekend than Miguel Tejada did.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

A Fishing Story
Have you tried fishing? Not your common or gardening angling, but “reel fishing”! Not with worms or artificial flies, but with “real meat”, like horses or donkeys. We used to do it every summer…well! It was your summer & our winter. You’ve probably gathered, that I used to live in Australia.

We’d hire this boat, quite a big one it was, Ethel & the kids, John 14 & Sandra…she’d be 17 by now. We’d do a picnic basket – lovely it was, ham, salad, cold turkey, a couple of bottles of wine & a case of Fosters. And off we’d sail over the reef. The sun would beat down, often the sea would be as calm…no calmer than a mill pond & we’d just drift. We’d put our lines over then & just wait – play cards, gossip & sing carols. Wonderful it was. Mind you, Ethel, didn’t care for the bait, it was the smell you see & the sight of this dead horse cluttering up the deck. “Patrick”, she’d say! “That horse is putting me off my dinner”! Well, it didn’t bother me or the kids, it wasn’t like that, the abattoirs delivered it quite fresh but Ethel used to say that it “sneered” at her & made noises, offensive noises, when the gases escaped from its gut. The kids loved that “Mum”! They’d say when it did it – “The horse is playing, God Save the Queen”! Well she didn’t like that, not Ethel, strict monarchist, she was, thought it was very disrespectful. She would go into one of her sulks & it would last for “bloody hours”.

Mind you, she did get a bit more excited when we got a shark interested. Well she had to with the thing thrashing the water & banging against the side of the boat. And then there would be more…dozens of the bastards, tearing chunks out of the horse, blood everywhere, snapping at each other. But I don’t think she really approved, not Ethel. She said it was senseless slaughter. Well I suppose it was if you look at it that way! But there are lots of sharks aren’t, there?

It went wrong when we got the “great white”! Huge it was, more like a submarine, really. Again & again it tore great hunks of flesh from the carcass, but it wouldn’t take the hook. Clever “bugger”! It had learned you see. Well I was determined that it wasn’t going to get away. I threw the Fosters, all the picnic stuff in the water. Ethel went mad; I’d never seen her so upset. She tore the rod out of its restraints & hurled it in the water. I didn’t stop to think, that’s always been my problem, “being impetuous” – Ethel followed the rod! Well! She was gone in “two bites” & I didn’t catch the shark. It seemed to know, it sort of “grinned” at me & then just made off. The kids weren’t too pleased either…they’d missed their PICNIC!!