dad

Fool Me Twice – Fishing Trip

Fool Me Twice - Fishing Trip Texas

The next Saturday, I finally got around to doing what I’d promised my father I’d do for the last seven months. I picked Spanky up on the way to my father’s, then the three of us all went

fishing together. We got up early, packed the truck with several coolers filled with beer, sodas, and munchies, and made it to Galveston by mid-morning.

It was—believe it or not—Spanky’s first trip ever to the beach. I couldn’t believe it—fifteen years old, and he’d never seen the coast.

We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. The sun was shining, and the air was filled with the sounds of boats and seagulls and crashing waves and kids frolicking up and down the beach. And just like I had when I’d taken the boy to the zoo, I was seeing it all anew through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time.

We found the longest pier on the island, a quarter-mile-long monster my dad had taken me to when I was still a kid myself. It was so big it had a bait-shop/convenience store built into it that was halfway between the shore and the end of the pier.

We staked out our own little corner, way out to the furthermost point, marking our territory with towels, fishing-poles, and folding lawn-chairs. Dad guarded our territory while Spanky and I made several trips getting all our supplies unloaded.

There was enough cloud-cover to keep the extreme heat mostly at bay, with the southerly breeze doing the rest.

Spanky got a huge kick out of feeding the sea gulls by hand, donating nearly our entire box of Ritz crackers to the hungry birds.

Throughout the day, the kid kept his own personal flock hovering over or near us at all times.

Spanky had, without a doubt, the time of his life, catching all manner of ocean-going critters, including a baby hammer-head, various types of crabs, two redfish, and an amberjack. It had been slow going at the beginning, though.

After getting his bait stolen a few times, Spanky turned to my father. “What am I doing wrong, Mr Evers?”

Hitching up his suspenders, my dad replied, “Well, let’s see what you’ve got here.”

And for the next half-hour, my father skillfully and joyfully imparted several generations worth of Evers family wisdom pertaining to the art of pier fishing—how to securely tie the tackle, where to place the bobber, and, most important, how to bait the hook—be it shrimp or worm.

It was the first time in a very long while that anyone had gone to my father for advice of any kind. He was delighted at the prospect of once again being useful, of actually being needed again.

As the boy listened reverently, my father took to the task as if the future welfare of the entire world depended on Spanky’s success as a fisherman.

It was plain to see the two genuinely liked each other. It was almost as though they’d been friends forever. But then, my father had always made friends easily. When I dropped my father off that evening, Spanky shared his thoughts.

“Your father’s great. I really like him.”

I smiled. “Me too, buddy. Me too. Back when I was growing up, all my friends in the neighborhood used to always say they wished their fathers were like mine. Matter of fact, he used to bring me and my friends to that same pier to fish. At night, you can catch all kinds of stuff. He’d sleep in the car while me and my friends fished through the night. I mean, how many fathers would do that?”

When I saw Spanky’s expression fall, I realized too late what I’d done.

With a despairing look on his face, he said, “I just wish…” His words trailed off as he stared into the distance.

I put my hand on his shoulder. “I do too, kid. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to… you know.”

I wasn’t intentionally trying to compare fathers with the boy. I just got carried away.

“But, look here, kid. If you want, we can come back and do this again. And next time? I’ll tell you what. Next time, we’ll charter a boat, and go waaay out where the water’s deep and blue, and the redfish are as big as a whale! How does that sound?”

He smiled at the prospect. “Really?”

“Absolutely!”

“I’d like that. I really would.”

As I was dropping him off at his grandmother’s house, I stopped him before he could get out of the truck. “Hey kid?”

He turned around, one foot still in the truck. “Yeah?”

I stared through the windshield at the dark night beyond, trying to find the right words for what I was trying to say. “Say, I’ve been meaning to tell you something, but just haven’t gotten around to it.” I paused to take a breath, then went on. “Anyway, a long time ago, probably around the same time you were born, I had a chance to be a father myself.”

I turned away from Spanky’s inquisitive stare.

“And?” he said.

“Well… let’s just say, I sorta blew it. Actually, I blew it big-time. It was all about me, what I wanted. Screw everyone else. I let Lisa down. The saddest thing is, my parents almost expected grandkids. My dad really wanted me to have a grandson. That’s all he talked about, his grandson. Anyway, he would’ve been about your age now… if I hadn’t…”

Now it was Spanky’s turn to look away. “I think I understand.”

“But, what I wanted to say is… I just hope he would’ve been like you, kid.”

Spanky smiled. “Thanks, Paddy. That means a lot. And thanks for today. I had a great time. I never thought fishing could be so cool.”

I don’t know how to explain it, but at the end of the day, it was like two loose ends of my life had somehow been brought together- one from the past, and one from the future. Although Spanky wasn’t of my blood, still something real, something good, was passed down that day—from father to son, and hopefully, beyond. It was, for me anyway, the best fishing trip ever.