When the phone in my office rang, its tone cut through the drone of business voices down the hall. It was the dentist’s office.
“Sir, just a reminder that we’re expecting you for your first visit with us on Monday at 9 a.m. Looking forward to seeing you.” Then she hung up.
I remembered I had booked my next appointment with a fishing dentist. Something like a trance fell over me as I rested my eyes and envisioned my first appointment.
Walking into the dentist’s office left no doubt in my mind that this person fished. Around the walls, waist-high, ran a rubber strip separating a blue metal-flake upper half from a pale lower white half. This lower wall had a film running around the room marking the waterline. As I signed in at the counter, the receptionist responsible for scheduling looked me up on the Solunar calendar, and since there were no major feeding periods showing, checked me in. I sat down momentarily, glanced at the coffee tables, and saw that every magazine had a fish on the cover. Muzak played an instrumental of “You Get a Line, I’ll Get a Pole, Honey.”
Pretty soon the dental hygienist, or as the receptionist called her, “the first mate,” showed up to lead me back to another room. She wore a fishing vest that rattled with gadgets as she walked. A captain’s chair stood in the center of the room on a pedestal. I was seated and a Gore-Tex poncho was thrown over me. The hygienist retrieved and flipped open a tackle box, removing her cleaning tools. She had variations of all the usual stuff, like fly-tying floss she spooled off to floss my teeth. Apparently, I was a Royal Coachman as the floss was bright red.
Before she could get down to business, the dentist waded in, greeting me with an “Ahoy . . . so you’re in for a floss and release?”
He then grabbed me by the lower lip to hold me still and took a look in, like he was trying to see where I was hooked.
All the time he worked, he asked the usual questions, “Catchin’ any?” “What are they bitin’?” “Dry or wet?”
Abruptly, he started asking for tools, using a language I understood, not the usual dentist jargon. I felt reassured.
First, he scanned my mouth and watched for cavities to show up on the sonar. When he found one, it beeped, and a tooth showed up on the screen. The first mate recorded it on my chart in what sounded like Loran coordinates.
“A little bilge pumping needed,” he said softly, and the first mate responded by hanging the flexible spit-sucker over my lower lip.
He turned on the Q-Beam overhead for additional light. His patient manner lulled me into watching my reflection in his polarized glasses, and I could easily have nodded off.
I snapped to full alert at a sudden thought, however. “What kind of fisherman is he?”, I worried.
If he goes after bass, I could picture him pulling teeth by cranking down to remove all the slack and yanking swiftly to “cross some eyes.”
Or if he’s a catfish angler, I wasn’t sure that I really wanted his fingers in my mouth. Imagine some of the bait he had no doubt handled. Livers, gizzards and Uncle Raford’s stink baits would probably leave a taste that forty-seven brushings and a half-bottle of Scope couldn’t kill.
Or what if he fishes offshore? My bill would probably be outrageous to cover just his gas expenses. I’m not sure I want to subsidize someone else’s fishing bills, when I have such a tough time with my own.
And what if he fishes for sharks . . . or carp?
My mental wandering ceased when the hygienist stepped up with a Minn Kota foot-controlled power scrubber to clean my teeth. The high-pitched whine drowned out all other sounds. She then flossed with the Royal Coachman floss, had me rinse with some solution called Bite-Mate, and I spat into a livewell.
As my checkup concluded, the dentist glanced at The Weather Channel, saw a northeaster approaching, and scribbled a note to the receptionist to pencil me in for a filling on Wednesday.
I was visualizing myself standing at the receptionist’s counter with an appointment date scribbled on a fake fishing license when, luckily, the phone in my office rang again, jolting me out of my trance. The papers still held siege to my desk while I contemplated the urgency of the phone.
The phone pleaded with a third ring. I decided to ignore it, however, and let it go to voicemail. For all I knew, it could have been the nurse with results from my physical telling me she had booked me with a fishing proctologist.
This story is an excerpt from Jim’s award-winning book, A Creek Trickles Through It. You can find his books on Amazon or order autographed copies from the author at acreektricklesthroughit.com.
Award-winning author, Jim Mize, has written a humorous book specifically for fishermen. Titled, A Creek Trickles Through It, this collection delves into such topics as carnivorous trees, persnickety trout, and the dangers of fly-tying. Whether you are an arm-chair fisherman or one with well-earned leaky waders, A Creek Trickles Through It will be a welcome addition to your fishing library.
Jim has received over eighty Excellence-In-Craft awards including the Pinnacle Award from POMA for his book, Hunting With Beanpole. His articles have appeared in Gray’s Sporting Journal, Fly Fisherman Magazine, Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, South Carolina Wildlife, as well as many conservation publications. You may order copies through Amazon or his website at www.acreektricklesthroughit.com