note: a 30-min exercise!
One summer when I was in college, I went fishing on the Delaware River with a couple of my friends and their girlfriends. I was the only one without a girlfriend at the time, so I played the role of “third wheel,” although for this trip, it was technically the “fifth wheel.”
We set up along the river bank. We opened two blue folding chairs for the girls and carried out the cooler from the car. We took out the large styrofoam bowls that contained dirt and fresh nightcrawlers. The three of us squatted down and stuck hooks through these fat worms. My friend Mike teased his girlfriend Liz by dangling the hooked nightcrawler in front of her. She screamed and laughed as she waved her arms frantically.
We passed around bottles of Amstel Light and took our spots on the bank. I tried casting a few times until I finally got it out to a favorable spot. I took sips from the bottle and waited patiently. It was cloudy and humid, and I regretted not having sprayed myself with OFF! before I came out. I looked over at my friends. Scott let Jessica hold on to the rod as he explained what she had to do if a fish bit. Mike stood patiently and waited like me. Liz was still in her chair, reading InStyle magazine. I looked across the river at the thick green forest and wondered how long it would take me to swim to the other side.
“Any luck?” I heard from behind me. Liz had walked over, a bottle of Amstel in her hand.
“Nope, nothing. Maybe it’s not the right time of day,” I said.
“Hmm. Can I try casting with your rod?” she asked.
“Okay, sure. Do you know how?” I asked.
“I think so,” she replied. I reeled in my line. The nightcrawler was now soggy but still intact. I handed the rod to Liz. She bent her arm to raise the rod and swung forward. The line did not release and the violent jerk forced the nightcralwer to fall off the hook.
“Damn it!” she said.
“You forgot to unlatch the spool cover,” I told her. I put on a new nightcrawler and showed her what to do. She nodded. She took the rod again and tried a second time. She swung forward as hard as she could but nothing went forward. She jerked once or twice before realizing the hook had stuck to something. She turned around and looked at me, frozen with horror.
“Oh my God! Dave! Are you okay?” she yelled. I winced in pain and reached behind my head to locate the hook. I tore off the nightcrawler that was wedged against my head. I then pulled the hook out. My hand was covered in blood. By this time, Mike, Scott, and Jessica had come running.
After several pieces of paper towel and a painful application of anti-bacterial cream, I put a bandage over the wound. It wasn’t big, but the cut felt deep. Liz kept apologizing and wore a worried expression for the rest of the day. I told her I was okay and eventually continued to fish. She didn’t come near me after that.
We left in the early evening. I had caught a couple of catfish, none too big, while Mike and Scott each caught one small catfish. We decided to let them go and packed up our things. As we loaded everything into the car, Liz came up to me.
“You’re not mad at me, are you?” she asked.
“Of course not. It was just an accident,” I said.
She leaned closer to me and lowered her voice.
“What if it wasn’t?”