“If you are going to fish you need to learn how to cut a worm in half with your fingernail.” He grabbed my hand and placed a long squirmy pink one into the palm. We had dug it and half a dozen of its siblings up from my grandmother’s flower beds that morning.
Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty.
I squinted up at him in disbelief. “I can’t do that, Grandpa! It’s a worm.” I was five years old, old enough to have a sense of what was really gross and what wasn’t.
There was no way…
“You can always do things you think you can’t.” He said it in such a way that it left no room for argument.
He stood waiting.
I sighed as I tore the slimy thing into two wriggling halves. Brown and yellow colored worm guts were all over my fingers and under my thumbnails.
He was right.
Listen to your elders.
It was not as hard as I had imagined… and I was surprised to find that my hands washed off clean in the river. Clean enough to eat a bag of Cheetos with, at least.
I hadn’t really wanted to go fishing. Fishing was for boys. But I really, really didn’t want to stay at home with my grandmother to help with the canning. That was too hot and messy and boring. Plus, grandpa had Cheetos.
Girls can do boy things.
Mmmmm. Cheetos. Finger lickin’ good…
He showed me how to thread my bit of worm onto the hook properly and how to cast without injuring anyone. We stood there for hours. Casting. Reeling back in. Casting. Reeling back in. I watched the bobber dunk below the surface countless times, felt the hard tugging on the line, only to pull up a bare hook again and again. Bastards. I never caught a thing.
The fish were taunting me.
Sometimes you don’t get what you want, even when you work hard for it.
I was terribly disappointed but strangely addicted. I knew I could get those buggers next time…
My grandpa stopped to clean the fish he had caught so my grandmother could cook them up for dinner that night. He made me help, even though I begged him to let me play in the water instead. Worm guts were bad enough. Now fish guts?
Unpleasant things are often necessary and as much as you might want them to signal the end of the world, the world will not end. Not for you.
As we were packing up my grandfather took my hook to pull off the last bits of remaining worm. I was not paying attention and ended up pulling the hook through his index finger.
Somehow, he didn’t cuss at me. He was a good man.
Always say you’re sorry. AND carry wire cutters in your tackle box in case of emergencies.
“Can we go again tomorrow, Grandpa?”
He grinned his lopsided grin as he slung the poles over his shoulder and led the way back to his beat up green Chevy truck. “You bet.”
I was secretly hoping for more of those Cheetos…