This weekend I headed up to Vermont to celebrate the bachelor party of my good friend, Teddy Crawford. It was a great idea for a bachelor party – fly fishing, golf, cards, nice sights, etc. Of course, since it was a bunch of dudes without our female companions to guide us, we (well mainly just me) had a little too much to drink. After staying out too late on Friday night, I had a 6:30 am wake up call to go fly fishing with a few Orvis guides – two of which were certified Orvis guides – one of which was not.
The fishing guide assigned to my team was named Chuck, and was the one not affiliated with Orvis. He was from the old school/machismo/tough-guy fisherman mold. It was basically like having an uneducated Bobby Knight barking orders at you about the proper techniques of fly-fishing. For some reason Chuck directed most of his barks at me. It probably didn’t help matters when Chuck asked what skill level we were, and I jokingly replied, “Well I basically taught Robert Redford everything he knows about fishing.” He did not understand that this was a joke. And this set him off on a hate-filled rant. “Robert Redford doesn’t know the first thing about fly fishing!! That little pansy-ass Hollywood false caster would get eaten alive out here!!”
I decided not to mention the name Robert Redford ever again. But Chuck would not let it drop. In between casts, I would hear Chuck yelling at me, “You wanna do your River Runs Through It , Hollywood-style, stand on a rock and do a bunch of pansy false casts, be my guest. But you’re not gonna catch any fish!” Feeling tired, hungover and a little like I was back in high-school getting yelled at my 7th grade basketball coach, I did my best to follow Chuck’s orders. But when I finally got something on my line, the shit hit the fan. It must have been a very large fish, because my rod was bending like crazy. And Chuck was going ballistic: “Don’t strip the line!!! Stop stripping the fucking line, you idiot! What in the hell are you doing?” I had no clue what “stripping the line” meant. But it probably had to do with me pulling at the line with my hand, which is exactly what Chuck had told us to do if we caught a fish. But apparently if it’s a big fish, you aren’t supposed to “strip the line”. I did not know this. And of course, because of my “line-stripping”, my big catch got away.
The minute I realized I lost my fish, I hesitantly glanced over at Chuck to see how he would take it. Not well, apparently. It was as if his star point guard had missed a last second layup attempt in the NCAA Championship game. He grabbed his hat and threw on the ground. Then he sunk his head in his hands and shook his head around violently. “What’d I tell you?” he growled at me. “DON’T.STRIP.THE.LINE.”
Maybe I could impart some wisdom on poor Chuck to calm him down. “Hey Chuckie baby,” I’d tell him. “Don’t forget what my main man, Bob Redford, had to say: ‘All things merge into one, and a river runs through it.’” Then I’d point down to my private region and continue, “I’m referring to this river right here, Chuck. You know: my johnson. You can strip all the line you want here. Oh wait, you’re actually taking me up on my offer. Oh. Well forget what I said.” Luckily I didn’t say any of this. I left all the wisdom to Chuck.