It is half six in the morning and quite cold. It has been an hour since I began regretting my decision to accompany Tommy Higgins, his exquisite sister Mary Robins Higgins, and their band of merry men on this dreadful fishing trip; and mere regret is an emotion I yearn for at the moment.
After much lugging of gear and slapping of backs and churning of water, we have arrived at our “hole”, my hosts’ term for the designated spot in the middle of the lake where we sit in silence and freeze our arses off.
“They’re gonna be hittin’ real good today,” observes Bubba, Tommy’s good friend and confidant. Must there always be a Bubba? Is there some Southern rule book on the subject? And don’t adverbs end in “ly” in this country?
“Soon as the sun comes up,” says Tommy’s other friend Mike, who seems to be itching to go. Funny thing, I’m itching to go, as well.
The fiery crown of the sun pokes up above the ledge of the horizon and all hell breaks out onboard our little vessel. Tommy, Mike, and the exquisite Mary Robins grab fishing rods and begin hurling bait into the dark water. Bubba hands me a rod and says “Time to rock and roll, Simey.”
He has taken to calling me Simey – a familiarity I detest, but everyone else seems to love. Simey – short for Simey the Limey – is far better than the other names Bubba has given me on this trip: Lime E. Greene and Mr. Greene Bean and The Greene of England. Bubba is a good natured chap who means no harm. I know this is his way of initiating me into their “club,” but I hate it just the same. I wonder if it’s a good time to start calling him by the nickname I’ve given him: Fat Obnoxious Red Neck. Perhaps later.
Within minutes my companions are hauling in bass by the bushel. I’ve not even baited my hook, and seeing this, Tommy comes over to help me out.
“Don’t fish much, do ya Simon?” he asks with much appreciated compassion. Mary Robins sees my distress and joins us.
“Have you made a lot of friends since you came to Chipping Norton, Simon?” she asks tenderly in her plump, syrupy Virginia drawl. She leaves the “g” off the end of Chipping and I melt.
“No,” I reply. “I’m afraid I haven’t, really.”
“Why not?” she inquires, staring intently into my eyes. Tommy sees her expression and smiles his perfect smile.
“I don’t know, really,” I reply. “I suppose I’ve always been content to live my life like William Butler Yeats on the Lake Isle of Innisfree.”
“Oh, I get it,” says Tommy.
“Really?” I ask, not certain that he does.
“Sure,” he says. “’I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, and a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made.’”
“’Nine bean-rows will I have there,” continues Mary Robins, “a hive for the honey-bee, and live alone in the bee loud glade.’”
I open my mouth, but no words come out. Tommy smiles again, handing me a baited rod.
“Good fishin’, huh?” he asks rhetorically.
Yes, good fishin’.
© 2013 Middlechurch Musings LLC