One day, when I was little, I was fishing with a boy named Connor. I was not the kind of girl who had crushes. I was the kind of girl who had a rock collection. I didn’t like boys, not in that way. I liked to do things. For instance, I liked to catch fish and cut out their eyeballs and paste them on my forehead. And I liked to be with kids who were likewise creative. Connor was like this and catfishing was what we were doing.
I did a lot of this. I didn’t have brothers and there was nobody but me to set the bait and manage the hook, so I did it all, and I guess I thought it was pretty tough stuff because people said so. Connor wasn’t a country kid like me, even if he did like to fish, and I guess I was thinking for a while that I could take his lunch money if I wanted to.
But that day on the dock, something happened I’ll never forget. Connor landed a big she-Cat, flipping wild as a Texas wind. He couldn’t hold it still, so in his city-boy tennis shoes, he happily, senselessly, stomped on that fish. He stomped once, proud of himself, and he stomped again. Then in a second, in a frozen moment in time, the beautiful slick, razor-sharp top barb of that giant Cat went straight into and up and through the top of his foot. There it stood, straight smack-dab in the middle and high in him, territorial, like the flag on the moon.
I screamed royal. Connor threw up, and then after further consideration, he threw up again. He was white. I might have been green. Adults came running down the hill, and someone grabbed the fish and pulled it off and someone (thrice blessed) washed the puke away.
And then, and then, dear reader, do you know what Connor did? Connor went right back to fishing.
After a while I did too, but I can still remember, looking out across the pond at the cattails, the existential ramblings in my little heart and if you care to know them, this is what I was thinking: So that’s a boy… and I’m a girl. We are mostly alike and yet we are remarkably, distinctly, totally…. different. The only thing that can explain this is that we must have been made special… made to be just this way.
I was glad I was a girl that day, and have been ever since. I was glad Connor was a boy, too, though I couldn’t for the life of me, at the moment, say why.
My husband and I fish a lot together and we always have, in ponds and rivers and lakes and creeks and stagnant snakey pools. Fishing is what we mostly do when the work is done or tiresome. He is a serious fisherman, while I sometimes just lose my rod, aimlessly watch the water-bugs and eat all the food, but still he often makes me think of Connor, for without him, my days would not be near as lively, nor as tragic, not anywhere as comedic, as what happens in this world, in this wild and watching world, in this world charged and waiting for a spark….
When a boy and a girl go fishing.