Date and Brother Go Fishing

by O’Neill Williams

It was during my nineteenth summer that I decided it might be worthwhile to take my younger brother, eleven years old at the time, and my girlfriend of recent vintage out for an evening of fishing. I was an experienced fisherman, and since not many guys were at that age, I felt I needed to impress her with my knowledge and aptitude. Okay! Maybe I did not think things through. It turned out to be a learning experience for us all that would foreshadow the future.
I had been catching a few crappies from around the docks at Norris Lake near Lithonia, Georgia. A short trip, from 7pm to midnight, did not seem too difficult. Knowing about the lake, docks, and general layout served us well, and we soon located a small 14 foot aluminum boat at the dock. With lanterns and gear in hand, off we went into the gathering darkness.
Well, first of all, my brother lost the only paddle overboard, never to be retrieved. Eleven-year-old boys are rarely known for their coordination. However, refusing to give in, we scrounged a lengthy 2×4, about 12 feet long, and I rowed on ‘kayak’ style, toward a destination not yet realized. That necessary paddling style unfortunately wet the matches in my shirt pocket. That situation unfolded as we reached the dock. No matches for the lanterns. What now?
So we pressed on; we were there, so fish anyway. As hands and feet scrambled in the darkness on the uneven planks, my tackle box was kicked into the water and floated away. This frazzled eighteen-year-old, trying his best to impress his beautiful date, attempted to decide who should take the blame. Well, it seemed important at the time.
No light, no tackle, little resolve! Give up! Live to fish another day. Paddle back to the dock.
As I tied a stern line to the post at the dock, I was assured by my date that they the bow was likewise secured. The lone female on this little jaunt needed to visit the little girl’s room. She hurried away, privacy and all that. No problem, I will unload. Go ahead.
Alone now, I placed the remaining gear on the dock and stepped out. Secured bow line? No, and I quickly did an acrobatic split and plunged into the dark water head first. My returning date noticed the soggy foot prints on the pavement, and recalled the part about the bow line. Teenage giggles mounted into infectious laughter as she surveyed the scene. Remember now, these people were eighteen-year-olds.
There I stood, no glasses. They were lost during the impromptu dive, soaked to the bone, dignity dripping wet! Hardly the impressive conclusion I had envisioned.
Anyway, we got through that evening, sense of humor finely tuned, knowing a great deal how we would react to and eventually overcome adversity. It was kind of a rehearsal, I guess, that first fishing trip. We are still paddling, that girl and I, sometimes ill equipped, but always willing to go back and start over, during some of the darkest times, with dignity and shared humor. We have been together now for 56 years.