Saturday, September 25, 2010


For Diana, one of the selling points of our South Haven vacation cabin was its proximity to fishing. She thought this was a can’t miss father/son activity. The kind of bonding activity that we’d both remember for years to come. Provided I blogged about it. She even went so far as to purchase a childrens’ fishing pole and tackle box.

Now, considering I referred to the fishing pole as a “fish stick,” the chances that this father and son moment would include the actual catching of a live animal were very slim. And I meant to keep it that way. The thought of me mincing around a hooked bluegill was not the image I wanted my son to have of his father. But I had to at least make it look good.

I asked one of the Lexus driving locals where the nearest fishing hole was. She explained that it was off season and there was no fish to be had. Perfect. I explained to her that it was just for show and I had any actual interest in the physical act of fishing. This was a photo op.

She suggested we fish in the nearby creek. She said it was perfect because it was filtered water from the nearby nuclear power plant.

Um. What? We were cabining near a nuclear power plant? The woman was kind enough to point to the massive cooling tower over the ridge. Her handyman companion said, “Yeah, you may just hook one of them three eyed mutant fish.” Spare me the Simpsons references, townie.

Anyhoo, Elijah, Diana, Luca and I trekked down to the place where the nuclear stream met Lake Michigan. Eli was elated at the prospect of netting a shark or a whale. Diana was elated at the prospect of photographing Eli’s first fishing outing. Luca was elated at the prospect of eating sand.

I looked at Eli’s kid tackle box and selected a bright yellow lure. I attached it to his line and showed him how to cast.

And then we were fishing. Really fishing. I began to actually relax and enjoy this moment. Fishing isn’t about killing a lesser animal. It’s about fathers and sons sitting together and not talking to each other. I welled up at the sight of my son saying, “Where are you, fishes?” I suddenly desperately wanted him to catch a fish. I wanted him to boat a marlin that day.

But as I looked down at the 3 inches of nuclear water, I knew he’d have to wait another day.

Eli eventually got bored of not catching any fish and announced that he had to pee. So I taught him something I was an expert at: urinating under rich peoples’ docks.

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