Fish On

by jkatejohnston

3 August 2015

Dear Max,

Yesterday we went fishing with Jenny, Dahlia and Bruce. Bruce wore a lucky tie draped about his person. All the kids caught fish. The pond is pretty much infested with baby bluegills. We kept them in a bucket just to look at and then let them go. Bruce said, “I kissed mine twice on the mouth and three times on the side.” He named his first fish Slimy. Enzo caught a big one—relatively big, about four inches—and Bruce named him Monsty. One fish got loose and flopped onto the bank, and a duck ate it. Disgust and delight all around.

Jenny texted her husband a picture of Bruce with his first catch. Her husband texted back, “Where’s the fish?”

“On the pole.”

“I thought that was the bait.”

Then we went to the creek and waded and swam. There were fish, large mouth bass, Enzo said, or possibly spotted bass. He and Bruce took turns going under water with the swim mask to look at them. We tried to catch them. No go. Bruce and Enzo tried to noodle them, that is, catch them by hand underwater. Enzo kept making Jeremy Wade-like pronouncements about the murky conditions, the treacherous eddies, the possibility of eels. Dahlia seemed to be the most interested in actually catching a fish. She and I waded upstream with the fishing pole to get away from the boys and their noise, but they followed us, and we all ended up at another little pond. It had fish too, which we did not catch. But going under the cool water felt so good.

Before we left, we went back to the bluegill pond and Enzo caught one for our aquarium. I held the bucket on my lap on the way home. Teresa went slowly around curves and over bumps. Most of the water stayed in the bucket. Then just as we were about to get off the freeway I felt a fluttering between my legs. “Shit! The fish! Oh my God!” I raised my butt cheeks and undid my seatbelt. “It’s okay, it’s okay. Just drive.” It flopped on the seat beneath me and then was still. I clicked my seatbelt in again, keeping my butt up. Teresa got off the freeway and pulled into a parking lot.

“Can I get a Jamba Juice?” (We were parked behind one.)

“Not now!” Teresa jumped out, came around to my side, took the bucket from my hands and then reached under my still-raised butt and retrieved the fish. Back in the bucket, relief all around, the happy sense of having been in a story. Still no Jamba Juice.

I just went over to the aquarium to see if the fish is still alive. I couldn’t see it, but at least it wasn’t floating on top. Teresa says it will probably hide in the weeds for a few days.