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The Ambiguous Fisherman
I have always felt the word avid should only be used alongside the word fisherman . Now, I really can’t explain why that is, it’s as if no other word just seems to fit. You love to fish, therefore you are an avid fisherman , or in my case, I would be known as an un-avid fisherman . Although, I like to think that I fit more into an ambiguous point of view about fishing …I have always been somewhat noncommittal about it.
Truth be told, I never totally bought into that whole idea of getting up when I didn’t want to, to do something I didn’t have to. That is such a very strange combination to me. It becomes downright argumentative when that alarm goes off at 5:00 in the morning and you start that whole battle with the snooze button. The only way this scenario seems perfectly plausible at all would be if you really enjoyed fishing …hence you were avid , which, of course, takes us right back to the paragraph above. The times I have ventured out from the comfort of my soft and warm bed linens over the years, to head to a nearby pond or creek, I would inevitably find myself already mad at the fish before I even got there. They hadn’t done anything. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say, if the fish had their way, I wouldn’t be there either, although I have been giving out free worm breakfasts most all of my fishing career. I just feel that starting a day off all frustrated and angry before the sun has even had the time to rise from its resting place to greet you is absolutely no way to begin a perfectly good Saturday morning. Maybe that’s why I never cared for fishing that much …I equate it with alarm clocks, being jarred awake in the middle of a perfectly good sleep and then crawling out of a warm bed totally against my will. Kinda like boot camp or maybe like a terrorist kidnapping right out of one of those Liam Neeson movies. I guess when I look at it closer, maybe I’m an avid sleeper …therein my friends lies the great conflict. With all of that in mind, why do I suddenly have the urge to go fishing? Is it my age? Has the back side of my mid-fifties ignited a grandfatherly approach to life for me? Was an epiphany thrust upon me from the heavens? Sure, I know the basics of fishing and I have fished several times through the years. I’ve trout fished the White River at a camp up in Arkansas, I’ve deep-sea fished a few times, I’ve fished for trout in streams, pond fished, I once hooked an alligator, I’ve fished late into the night from a pontoon boat and fished from a bass boat once in monsoon conditions within almost direct view of a tornado …I was told on that occasion that we couldn’t stop ‘cause we had found ourselves on a mess of crappie. So you see, I am not foreign to fishing, but I just realized that each and every time I have gone fishing over the years it was never my idea. Now, it’s my idea and I simply do not understand. I have buddies who fish and I could call one of them up, but I know what they’ll ask … what do you want to fish for? Truthfully I don’t know what kind of fish, I just need to fish. I’m not looking to catch something, clean it and take it back home for the grill …that’s why God gave us Costco. I simply want to fish. I’ll call Chris. Chris is a buddy of mine, a very good buddy of mine …a buddy that first crossed my path back in our junior high days. Chris is a fisherman, but a fisherman more along my style …simple, slow and appreciative of the moment and all that it entails. Fishing is not work, fishing is well, fishing. If you catch something fine if not, that’s fine too. Wasn’t the sunrise pretty this morning? How about another cup of coffee? We laugh at the same things, we both love Garrison Keillor, standard poodles, John Prine, Umco tackle boxes and hot coffee from a thermos. I’m telling you if I had gone to FishingMatch.com, I just know the computer algorithm thingie would have matched us up. I nervously placed the call and after our usual casual banter, I asked him out. He said yes. We’re going fishing in the morning.
The Tremont Tragedy
It was a fairly clear Wednesday. Late June in the deep south. About the time the air density begins its transformation from a light soupy broth on up to a thickened chowder just in time for tomato season. A deep breath will not be taken again until Pumpkin Spice moves through Dixie like Sherman's march to the sea.
We were traversing Highway 178 onward to the next stop, Tupelo, Mississippi. My son and I were in the midst of another road trip, this one with Oklahoma City in mind. I love road trips and my son is the perfect co-pilot. He commandeers the music and has superb taste. We actually have a lot in common …sometimes it just takes adventures like this to point that out to each other.
Just over a slight hill, I spied a quaint little grocery store ahead on the left, one that was truly a huge slice of character accompanied by a side of patina nostalgia. I am a true sucker for anything that remotely reminds me of where I once was ...a place I have spent a lifetime trying to find again. I cut left, straight into this place from a different day …the parking lot of the lovely Tremont Grocery.
I slowly hopped out of the truck. Truthfully I do everything slowly now and my hop from the truck is more of a slithering scoot to solid ground. I began to study the building, admiring it you might say. The old store sits between the highway and a splinter road …right at the beginning of the fork …its dusty parking lot forming a triangle, for some a cut-through. I began snapping a few pictures, then, to better see the subject, I took my beloved RayBan sunglasses off and laid them on the back of the truck. I continued capturing images with the eye of a seasoned photojournalist in combat conditions. Finishing the session up, I climbed back in the truck, u-turned across the dirt and dust and gravel and back to the asphalt once again to continue this stage of the journey, toward a town and a place that I have visited at least a half dozen times in my life. The childhood home of the King soon awaited.
Now, we had traveled what I’m estimating about 9/10 of a mile, give or take fifty feet or so, when a well-seasoned, Pall Mall-driven voice I’m sure in the key of G began moanfully describing the anguish of a sweet thang gone bad. His heartache was coming to us via satellite somewhere between us and heaven and was accompanied by a steady blues rhythm pushing me on the 1 and the 3 like Muddy Waters on a Clarkesdale Saturday night. That mystical arrangement of notes began moving me then suddenly it began nudging me.
"Where’s your glasses?" it seemed to announce right after the second verse and just before the guitar would further emphasize the pain.
I looked in my mirror, I looked beside me and with horror I realized I was absolutely sans glasses. I quickly locked her down and checked the back of my truck and I determined my glasses had somehow escaped. They were not to be found on my person nor were they to be found in the back of my truck. They had up and went …they were gone. In my possession no more. With a deep sense of panic, we retraced our tracks all the way back to that parking lot at Tremont Grocery.
That last spot, that very spot that I had lost touch of a priceless piece of my history. Historians may one day call it an artifact. They were simply gone. Like fried chicken at a Baptist homecoming, they didn’t last long once they were set out in the open for fetching. I surmised that perhaps they were snapped up by some collector of memorabilia and famous trinkets. Top dollar could be expected on the internet or perhaps a pawn shop near Highway 178, there just east of Tupelo and a rock throw or so from Tammy Wynette Highway over on Highway 23. I have since scoured eBay to no avail. I even tried to investigate using the Craigslist for Tremont, Mississippi only to find that Craig had inadvertently omitted them from his corner of the world-wide intrawebs …I’m quite sure just a simple oversight.
Reward? Sure there is. You’re looking at padding your wallet with twelve crisp one dollar bills leftover from that trip …wait, make that $12.47, I forgot about my change holder here in the truck. I always carry a wad of ones on road trips, strictly for research purposes.
I have hundreds of pictures of me looking absolutely fetching in those prized blue tinted Aviator Ray Bans and can provide such for ownership proof if so needed. They fit me much like the glass slipper that softly squeezed past the lovely toes of Cinderella and rested upon her charming foot. It was as if they were molded especially for me. We had seen many sights together and as an added bonus they hid about a third of my face, which at my age is really a good thing.
I’m reaching out now to the Tremont Mississippi Police Department …the Tremont Mississippi Chamber of Commerce …the mayor and city council of the great city of Tremont, Mississippi …along with any and all of the citizens of the great city of Tremont, Mississippi. I am also reaching out now to you America …namely the entire state of Mississippi, to help bring some sort of closure to this agonizing period in my life.
Compensation and a cold one awaits upon their return.