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Look What the Cat Dragged In!
I just had a memory from a few years ago: that prompted a memory from sixty years ago:
I’ve fished my whole time in Sebring, 1989 to the present. I’d recommenced fishing that spring in the Everglades, kept it up once in Sebring. Indulge my preference for wade fishing. Boats are great, but I love to be immersed in the same medium as my prey. In love standing, stalking, in the water, in the muck. I love feeling the varying currents, temperatures: things you’re insulted from in a boat. I fish much better when I’m in the fish’s medium.
1990 or so I met my dear friend Catherine. She was old, blind, had no idea how I was dressed, whether I was covered with muck, festooned with lake weed … Catherine died, I wrote the political satire that got me arrested, as despairing, as funny, as Swift’s Modest Proposal, I got arrested, busted, released: censored and flat broke, I’d already had no prospects. SSI and food stamps keep me alive: the government tried to crush me, no memory of how it had always crushed me, had never not crushed me, to tools, no intelligence, no honesty to begin to comprehend how it offends freedom lovers, anarchists, people who don’t want to be bullied, don’t want a portion of stolen goods …
After a while I decide it’s time for me to get laid, to meet a woman. I hear of a dance for old farts, I go, I meet women galore. I’m attacked, sandbagged, slandered, nothing new there; but I score zillions of women anyway: so what if some of them are in their 70s, 80s, 90s … by this time I’m in my late 60s, early 70s …
Well: one gal tells me she lives on Lake Istokpoga, my favorite fishing lake: ever! She talks like we’re friends, encourages me to visit. I do. I get my rod, my wading waist pack with its utilities: she loans me her nice little white golf cart. I zip over to her park’s canal system: Istokpoga homes are rarely on the water directly; they’re in a canal complex. I cart to a canal, park, climb straight down into the canal: go feeling my way with my toes, water up to my collar bone, for a nice dense stand of bulrushes or cattails to cast to.
Immediately I’m swamped by the hydrilla. But also immediately I’m catching nice bass: 14″, 15″, 16″s. But at the first sixteen I rush a retreat, climb the bank, dragged down by a cloak of hydrilla, I jump back aboard the golf cart, zip to Betty’s house, enter her screen room, stand on her door mat, knock, call, “Betty, look’a here.”
Betty comes, sees me oozing muck onto her porch, dives straight for the mop and pail, never sees the fish, she’s busy scrubbing and sponging. I say Thank you, and Goodbye, and never say more than Hello again, at a distance.
I remember as a boy, the cat would drag the corpse of a bird, or a mouse, to the back porch, so proud of itself.
What sense could the cat have made of how it was scolded? how harsh were its reprimands?
Why was it punished? For following its instincts?
Well: these days, I show off very few fish to Jan. On occasion I’ll bring one to her jasmine patio: but by that time I’ve shed the hydrilla, the muck.