Ladies, does this sound familiar? In your age of youth and innocence you meet a guy. He’s got the three “s”’s going for him; he’s sweet, smart, and sexy. His mama taught him manners, the Navy taught him to make his bed, and the Culinary Institute of America taught him how to whip up magic in the kitchen. More importantly, he knows how to give incredible backrubs, does not smoke or drink, and does not suffer from the wandering eye. All in all, it appears you met your Prince Charming – except for that one little thing; he’s a nut, more specifically a fly fishing nut. Of course, you marry him, fatefully thinking “how bad can that be”?
Well, life’s an education. Pretty soon, you find yourself with a camper-topped, canoe-racked pickup truck in the driveway, an entire room of the house dedicated exclusively to fishing gear, and a husband who spends his free time either on the water fishing, in a fly-shop talking about fishing, or moping around the house in grave emotional distress because he’s not fishing. Furthermore, you discover the man’s idea of a romantic stroll on the beach entails stopping at every bait bucket to interview the owner, and that, to him, a cozy Sunday morning at home involves being snuggled-up on the couch with a steaming cup of coffee and his favorite TV fishing shows.
Oh but take heart, there are the occasional shared social events. Every now and again, you and your man go out on the town to meet up with some of his long-time friends (a.k.a. fishing buddies). Almost from ‘hello’ the conversation turns to fishing. You get to listen to hours of detailed accounts on how the boys in their combined genius outwitted scores of wily fish (or more often than not were outwitted by them). More pounds, feet, and inches are mentioned than at the average maternity ward. In fact, it’s a marvel the boys haven’t yet picked out names for some of their most precious babies. The novice bride should take note; it is generally very advisable to wear high-top boots to these occasions because it does, at times, get rather deep. Also, resign yourself to the fact that you will have absolutely nothing to contribute to the conversation and will be delegated to listening, smiling, and looking pretty. Fortunately (for him), you are secure enough in your emancipated womanhood to put up with being mere window-dressing for the odd old boys’ club meeting. Once in a blue moon, such a thing is tolerable as long as your man understands he better have a detailed plan on how to make this up to you at the earliest convenience. That being said, you make the best of the evening and attempt to enjoy the food and your hubby having fun with the guys (after all you love the guy and enjoy seeing him happy). All this “joy” does get diminished just a tad, however, as you learn that your husband’s intuitive and insightful friends wonder why you are always so quiet around them.
Oh, but wait, it gets better. Through the years you eventually come to learn you haven’t married just any old nut, you are privileged enough to have landed the Jacque Pepin of fly fishing nuts. The guy not only has a good bit of natural talent, but after decades of practice, research, and single-minded devotion has attained a level of expertise that others endeavor to obtain. Thus, the phone rings every time a friend has a decision to make about which gear to buy, which location to fish, or which bait/fly to use. Finally, nuts-in-training show up at the door wishing to be instructed in the mysteries of fly casting by your super-nut. Now, let me tell you this, you haven’t truly lived until you’ve sent off your grown man with his fly rod and his hula-hoops to go play in the middle of a soccer field somewhere.
Even this entertainment pales, however, in comparison to the next phase. Eventually, your man gets wise to the fact that he’s been planning out all his friends’ fishing adventures for years and that maybe this is something he can turn into a business. Very soon then, you find yourself a fly fishing widow at least once a month while the husband is off “working”, which he defines as taking customers on hosted trips to the best fishing locations on the planet. Most of the time, he is off in some distant wilderness, glorious in its natural beauty but nowhere near anything you would personally consider a quality vacation spot. Therefore, you are very happy to see him off and hold down the fort while he’s gone. After all, you can look forward to him coming back happy, excited like a little kid, and full of new stories to tell. Also, he usually comes back intent on spoiling you even more than usual for having put up with all the excess work incurred through his absence. The latter is purely a self-preservation tactic, but appreciated nonetheless. Young novices, take it from an old hand at this, there is a lot to be said for taking separate vacations to strengthen a marriage. Having the opportunity to indulge your own inner child without the requirement of it playing nice with his is absolutely invaluable to the relaxation process. Traveling separately also makes you less likely to end up as one of those old couples who don’t have anything new or interesting to say to each other anymore. So, all in all, his new business venture is a good thing for both of you, and you support him fully. BUT, there are those days…
Those are the days when you started putting out fires at work and around the house long before dawn and did not finish until long after dusk. On those days, the eventual call from your husband just as you finally get to sit down and relax for a moment does not necessarily evoke the most whole-hearted enthusiasm. The latter condition is then exceedingly aggravated by his lamenting his own exhaustion from having been out on the water all day and over-indulged on food and wine (this while you nibble on microwaved chicken nuggets that the dogs are attempting to rob you of). His reassurance that he is, thank goodness, recuperating well from these exertions by swaying in his hammock on the beach, sipping his Mai-Tai also fails to illicit joyful relief. It is on those occasions that the poor lad has no choice but to end the conversation befuddled as to why women are so terribly moody and inexplicably grumpy at times (though his word choice is likely to start with “b” and rhyme with witchy). Not to worry, though, he’ll soon get over it. All that is required is something stirring in the water to immediately and permanently avert his attention.
In closing I have this to say to all young women out there just at the beginning of this saga. Do not be dissuaded. In my personal experience, a fisherman does make an excellent husband. Simply be aware of what you are getting yourself into right from the start. Listen to those who have gone before. Maintain your own interests and hobbies, travel to your own destinations with your own friends, and, most importantly, train your man well so he knows to lavish love and attention on you in compensation for your enabling him in his addiction. If he will not be trained, beware. Being married to a nut can be trying enough at times. It is probably not advisable to try the experiment with an obstinate, egocentric, or insecure macho nut.
Postscript: If you enjoy my creative nonfiction, please consider taking a commitment-free sneak-peak at my fiction, also available on this blog under From Panda . It is written with the same humor but with the added bonus of a bit more adventure, suspense and romance. Winds of Change, the first novel in a series named Panda, can be accessed for free here on this blog. Donations in the form of social media shares, comments, and spreading the word are ever so welcome. Early chapters are already posted; more appear at regular intervals. Should the pace become tedious at some point, just nag. We will listen.