Fishing for Wisdom

A man set up to fish in the surf at the water’s edge just a few feet from my chair. I never usually see these men catch anything. Which is reassuring because fish are yucky, and they can’t be in the ocean where I swim.

However, within a few minutes he reels in a small fish, about eight inches head to tail at most. He throws it back after showing it off to his kids. A little later another one. Maybe the same fish. Fish aren’t known for their mental capacity.

I walked over to inquire about this killer creature and he told me it was a kingfish. Then I asked how far he casts out.

He said just past the breakers.

Just past the breakers is just past where I swim.

“Don’t tell me that! I don’t like to think about fish being in the ocean.”

“Oh there’s a lot of fish out there but these don’t even have teeth, don’t worry.”

Sure, don’t worry. As if the absence of teeth could keep me from a slimy collision with a deadly bait fish.

Image result for kingfish

note the many sharp teeth


 

My love of the water is one of the few areas of my life where I embrace blindness. Bodies of water are dangerous! Waves, currents, deep ends, stinging amorphous blobs…you can drown in a teaspoon of water yet I jump in headfirst. The rest of my life is an eyes-wide-open minefield of anxiety…

If I apply for this job it’ll be awkward if I get it and I have to tell work I’m leaving on short notice and I have this trip planned and might not be able to take vacation so soon after starting and I wonder where the bathrooms are…

I tell others “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” but involuntarily maintain the opposite mentality.

 

Maybe the murky depths actually shield me from my fears.

 

They say seeing is believing but sometimes it’s easier to believe what we don’t see. I can float in the ocean all day until I see or feel a fish, then I can’t go back. At least for a few minutes. If you can’t see them they’re not there. A child pulling the covers over her head to hide from a monster. If you can’t see them they can’t see you. If you don’t check your email, work doesn’t exist. Closing your eyes as the airplane ascends to pretend you’re not hurtling through air in a metal tube.

 

It’s easy to make yourself blind to reality if you want. Look, he’s not sick, he still likes his favorite ice cream. He went down the stairs by himself that one time without falling, everything must be fine.

 

Maybe being blind to reality is what we all really need to thrive. At least for some of us. Every time we get in a car we risk our lives. Riding a bike is a delicate act of balancing inches away from a bloody curb. Tripping on a curb could end up in a concussion and blood clot in the brain.  Who could step out of the house acknowledging all that’s really there with us, teeth or no teeth. Indoors, under the covers, away from monsters is the only safe haven.

 

But then there would never be the chance to be enveloped by warm water, drifting softly on the swells. It’s a tightrope act teetering between hiding from danger to enjoy the beauty on the other side.

 

 

 

photo credit: http://www.floridasportsman.com/2012/08/02/stop-and-go-kingfish/

(Wo)Man Up

I am facing an epidemic of p-word men. Men are not supposed to be high maintenance. Go drink your scotch and grunt somewhere. I have enough time keeping myself together, I can’t worry about stroking your ego.

The past week has featured two separate p-word situations. I’m sitting back and observing, because I am not going to jeopardize my content solo life surrounded by pets and pillows if I’m expected to put in work before the first date even happens.

Scene #1: OkCupid

Message exchanges begins and goes very well. Witty, casual, shared interests. Without fail, responds within 15 minutes of every message, but reliable is nice sometimes.

Then comes: “Not sure if this is too forward, but I thought maybe you might be open to chatting on text. Here is my number if that’s ok with you.”

You’re not asking for a kidney. Just exchange the numbers and carry on.*

Accidentally on purpose I text a few days later.

“Oh it’s so great to hear from you. I assumed I had been too forward and felt bad for giving you my number.”

If he feels bad about giving me a phone number can you imagine the trauma if he was late to dinner one night?

Needless to say, he has not mustered the courage to schedule a date. He has referenced his diet and the gym on more than one occasion. I even know where his gym is located. And I know what he bought at the grocery store to “keep it tight. Girls don’t want any roundness.” I was not aware of that but fine.

He has referenced things we could do on a date:

What kind of food do you like? If we went on a date, I’d need to know.

Yet, no dates. And I’m neither holding my breath nor keeping it tight in anticipation. I’m keeping it cheese.

Scene #2: I didn’t meet this guy online.

I repeat: I DID NOT MEET THIS GUY ON LINE.

Automatic first place. A real person interesting enough in real life to exchange numbers/accept my number thrust at him.*

Except then the multiple texts by the time I got home from the bar.

“I’m so grateful we talked. I’m just kicking myself for not having the courage to come up to you myself and talk”

(Pro-tip: Avoid revealing weakness and lack of self-confidence in the first text. Really, withhold all emotions until the 6 month mark, and even then save the gratitude for things like pizza.)

He did manage to set up a date relatively soon, and follow up without assuming my scheduling issues were an outright rejection. Unfortunately the actual planning of the date involved multiple messages requiring multiple 3/3 screens worth of text. No restaurant in the zip code was left unsuggested. I seriously almost cancelled, nervous he would pee his pants when I walked in the door.

Once we met up we really had a nice time. No sarcasm. He was gentlemanly, easy to talk to, and lighthearted. A red flag or two but a good time. He went along with petty bar theft and wanted to bet on football. He wins and his prize was a 2nd date with me. Adorbs! Flirtation AND Gambling.

Get home and again a text from him. This time assuring me that he wants a second date but he wants me to know I don’t really have to follow through with the bet if I don’t want to because I shouldn’t ever have to do anything I don’t want to do but it would be really nice to go out again because (^&@&^#$%*&)^$@()!*&^#$.

I assured him I’d be happy to go out.

Few days later I ask how the rest of his weekend was.

“Saturday was the highlight. I had sweet dreams all night after meeting a wonderful lady: you! I hope to be able to relive the night.

And no date request since then.

I’ll go out with him again, despite risk of barfing. But a 44 year old needs to figure out on his own how to ask for a 2nd date without reciting a sonnet.

I don’t do high maintenance. No one should have to. Sexist or not, you need to man up.

*Just ask for my number. Seriously. Don’t make me do the work!!