Fishing always has played a part in nearly every relationship I've ever had. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, "You like fishing more than you like me," I probably would be right up there in the Forbes Top 100 Richest People.
Luckily, I have a real winner of a wife who understands that fishing is part of the package. It was an entirely different story with some my relationships that went south in a hurry, though. I can't really say why Karen is so understanding about this passion of mine. I know that half the time I walk through the door I smell like a fish. I am often covered in fish slime and blood and have fish scales falling off my clothes like leaves off a tree. And what is not to love about this? But maybe my wife thinks it's a whole lot healthier than me hanging out in a bar or something.
Karen is a compulsive cleaner and within an hour of me walking through that front door, my clothes are washed and folded. Now that is love. She even went on the Internet and found this amazing stuff that you spray on bloodstains so they come out. Strangely enough, she actually seems to enjoy the challenge of saving clothes that another man's wife would only handle with a hazmat suit.
Another aspect of a fisherman's relationship with women has to do with how the wives of friends of mine perceive me. Though this is not always the case, I have lived through more than my share of persecution from these women, and it just isn't fair. Why? Because I get blamed for enticing their sweet, innocent husbands to go fishing too much. The truth of the matter is this: In nearly every one of these cases these husbands call me begging to take them fishing. And when I finally say "yes" and take them out, they can't seem to get enough fishing. Long after the time I am ready to head home, they have a knack of convincing me to fish for just a bit longer.
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Of course, when they get home and their wife is standing at the door with that look on her face, it's a whole lot easier putting the blame on me than it is facing the music. I can't tell you how many wives look at me with pure disdain, but after years of putting up with this situation, I have gotten pretty good at letting it slide right on by. The way I look at it is everybody can't love you.
One of the oddest things about most of the women who are married to fishermen is this: Rarely do they ever go fishing with their husbands. Karen says she wants to go with me on occasion but when the time comes to go, she usually backs out.
I think I have this one finally figured out, and it goes something like this: Fishing is all about patience and though she loves being out on the water, she knows there is no way she can sit and watch a bobber a-bob, bob, bobbing along for eight straight hours. She knows it and I know it so on the rare occasions that we do go out together, I pretty much know it is going to be a short-lived adventure.
One of the more amusing observations about husbands and wives when it comes to fishing is the purchase of a new boat. This is a good one that I have seen time and time again. You already know that the man is the instigator of the purchase, but first he has to get it by the woman of the house.
"It will be great, honey. We can go out and watch the sunset, maybe do a bit of fishing, blah, blah, blah" until she finally gives in. These relationships can be extremely short-lived and all it takes is a bit of wind and the party is over. Instead of rescheduling that inaugural trip, men are too hard-headed and take the little lady out on days when even porpoises are hiding from the wind and waves. All it takes is one day -- maybe even one hour -- of being sea sick, and I can just about guarantee she will never set foot on that boat again.
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus -- it couldn't be more true, especially when it comes to fishing. There are exceptions but for the most part, this phrase is right on the money. The only thing I don't have an answer for is what is my wife doing while I am out fishing all the time?
Now where does she hide those credit card bills?
God does not subtract from the allotted span of a man's life the hours spent in fishing. Columnist Collins Doughtie, a graphic designer by trade and fishing guide by choice, sure hopes that's true.