P.L. Parker

P.L. Parker

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In Search of my Soulmate - Bachelor No. 2

The Fisherman

Charged with nervous energy, I waited, excited and impatient. I could hear him rustling around in the back room.
“You’re gonnal love this,” he called. “I got it on sale and it’s perfect.”
My excitement rose. A Christmas present from a guy! Almost as good as flowers on Valentine’s Day.
He peeked out the door. “Close your eyes and don’t open them until I tell you.”
I obliged, shutting my eyes tightly, but the suspense was killing me. What could it be? Jewelry? New clothes? Something wonderful I just knew.
“Okay, you can open them now.” He sounded so pleased.
My eyes popped open.

I stared at the object. What the hell was that?
It was an inner tube! An inner tube?
“Uh,” I stammered, at a loss. “Thank…thank you.”
“It’s a float tube,” he grinned. “We can go fishing together.”
“Fishing? In that?”
Now I don’t know about you, but my idea of fishing is standing on the bank, forcing unwilling worms onto a hook and casting out. Reeling slow and, if luck was with me, I’d snag a fish. But a float tube?
I studied the item a little more carefully. There was kind of a seat thing in the middle, with holes for my legs to drape down. Didn’t look safe to me. I’m not much of a water person and I sort of figured I’d have to go out on the water in this thing.
“You’ll still need to get waders and flippers,” he explained, still so pleased. “Soon’s it warms up, we’ll go.”
Oh joy! I’m excited—not.
March came far too soon for my comfort. The fishing trip was on the schedule. Some obscure reservoir or lake out on the Camas Prairie near Fairfield, Idaho.
“You can borrow my husband’s waders and flippers.” My friend Carol fairly bubbled. She threw up her hands. “Those things are too expensive to buy until you’re sure you want to keep floating.”
Expensive was the key word. A single mother struggling to make ends meet, I didn’t need a costly hobby. Hobbies were to be enjoyed, treasured, moments of personal pleasure. I didn’t see this as falling into any of those categories.
“Thanks,” I said, with about as much enthusiasm as I could muster. I didn’t want to go in the first place so buying the gear was out of the question.
“It might be fun,” she commiserated, knowing I hated the idea. “Keep good thoughts.”
Before daylight we headed out on our less than grand adventure. It was a cold morning. The wind was blowing, the sky was overcast. Rain drizzled the bleak landscape. Not a good day to be out fishing—even less for float tubing. I kept hoping the truck would break down, he’d suddenly fall sick or that I’d awaken soon from this horrible nightmare. But fate was against me, we arrived without incident.

The reservoir was small, but certainly big enough. Mr. Fisherman threw on his gear and waded out, leaving me to decipher the complexities of the confusing equipment. There were no instructions. I had no manual. Why was I doing this? Why hadn’t I just said no? Because you’re an idiot. That’s why!
False starts and many minutes later, I was ready.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever float tube fished, but imagine loaded down with a pole, a fish bag, drinking water, my small cache of makeup, hanging onto both sides of the float tube, hampered by flippers which I have never worn before and trying to walk. Get the idea?

I stumbled towards the water on feet suddenly larger than Shaquille O’Neal’s. The voice of impending doom whispered its insidious words of disaster to my terror-fogged brain. I shivered in the icy wind. The moment was upon me.
Okay, let’s do this. I waded into the water. Farther. Deeper. In the distance, Mr. Fisherman waved, giving me the thumbs up. Asshole!
The water rose to the bottom of my tube. Okay, I can do this. I stepped forward. With the strength of super glue, the muddy bottom clung to my feet. One of my flippers slipped off! Omigawd! I’d lost one of Darrell’s flippers. I couldn’t afford to replace the item!
I leaned out, as far over the edge of the float tube as I could get, dipping the edge as I frantically groped for the flipper. No luck! I forced the tube further down, stretching out as far as I could.
The tube flipped! Freezing water enveloped my head, shoulders and chest area. I was hanging upside down in the water! Dirty water rushed into my silently screaming mouth. I was drowning. Upside down in a freakin float tube! My thoughts ran rampant. My children. My family. I’d never see them again. And they’d be left with the details of my ignoble death. Shameful and embarrassing. The local newspaper would pick up the story—I could see my epitaph—The float tube won!
I fought, but there was nothing I did that changed the situation. I was growing tired of struggling. Death loomed its ugly face.
A hand gripped my shoulder and pulled me upright. Water streamed from my hair. The waders filled with icy water.
Materializing in front of my watery eyes was the face of an elderly gentleman. “Are you okay?”
I gazed into his face, too shocked to speak.
“Are you okay?” he asked again.
I nodded, strands of wet hair flapping my face.
“Let’s get you back to the bank.”
It was only then I noticed my savior had waded out, without protective gear, to save me. He was almost as wet as I was.
“I’m…I’m sorry,” I sputtered, slogging to the bank, burdened by the added weight of the now full waders. “I…”
He frowned. “You shouldn’t be out here if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
“That’s exactly what I thought.”
In the distance, Mr. Fisherman waved again, thumbs up. He is so dead!
“You need to get dry—so do I,” my savior chuckled. “Didn’t expect to go swimming.”
“I’m so sorry,” I apologized again. “I feel terrible.”
“You look terrible. Go get dry.”
I stripped off the waders, noting a long tear in the right leg. Great! Now I’d have to buy waders and flippers. My gross national debt was growing by the second.
In a rash moment of clarity, I had packed a second set of clothing—in the off chance I’d need them. Finally dry and sitting in the truck, I waited for Mr. Fisherman, fuming and ready to attack.
It was then the truth finally sank in. Mr. Fisherman believed whatever was good for him was good for me. Wasn’t it? I looked back over the preceding months. We did what he wanted to do, ate what he wanted, tried to enjoy what he enjoyed, and I realized--I was nothing but a second thought when he was in the mood.
Several days later, walking down Main Street, a couple walking ahead of me were sucking face and groping frantically. It was Mr. Fisherman!
Months later, I ran into him again. He asked me if I'd ever gone float tubing again. "Sadly," I said. "A friend borrowed the tube, left it in the back of his pickup and lost it driving down the freeway." Secretly I smiled. That fifty bucks in my checking account just about paid for the
flippers and waders.
The vote was in. Mr. Fisherman? Definitely a “No.”

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