|Gettin' em Hooked for Life
| I confess. I can't keep it a secret any longer and as difficult as this is to admit, it must be said: I'm an addict and a pusher.
That's right. It's true. I've been hopelessly addicted since I was only six years old. And guess what? My dad was a pusher and, believe it or not, he's the one who got me hooked.
I'll never forget that first high. Wow! What a rush! It left me with a lump in my throat. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry and my entire body was shaking and trembling. After that first, smooth catch-and-release, I was left with an almost insatiable craving -- a deep burning desire to feel that same rush again and again and again. Right then and there I knew I was hooked for life.
When I was a kid, being hooked was easy to hide. My friends were all "Fishin' Junkies"-- each and every one of us was a mainliner. We needed our daily dose of fishing straight to the brain and we'd do almost anything to get it.
Afterwards, once I was married, my addiction was much harder to hide. At first it was only on weekends. I'd slyly tell my wife I was just going down to the store or out for awhile. Eventually, I'd show up at home well after dark and quietly slide into the house -- always hoping she wouldn't wake up and catch a whiff of that lingering fishy smell that always seemed to permeate my clothing and follow me no matter where I went. I knew the fishy odor would eventually give me away, so I tried to conceal it. I tried scrubbing my hands with toothpaste and strong soaps, but nothing seemed to work. Once after hearing it was a cure for skunk-sprayed dogs, I bathed in tomato juice, but even that didn't work.
As my habit worsened I'd slip away fishing every day after work. And then, I started missing work days altogether. It was becoming a serious issue. Close friends and my wife would casually ask if I was having any problems, was everything OK? I could never see a problem and single-mindedly maintained that everything was just fine. Clearly, the denial scenario had set in.
I became expert at hiding my high-priced fishing paraphernalia. Dozens of rods, reels, lures, nets and a top-of-the-line boat -- nothing but the best for me -- thousands of hard-earned dollars' worth. Always handy, but stashed away where no one would ever dream of looking.
I'll never forget the day I got caught -- the day the denial finally ended. Arriving home after a secret rendezvous with some silvery-sided coho up on Carefree Creek, my wife stared wide- eyed at my pants covered in small, sparkling fish scales. There was no getting out of this one. She most definitely had me. I squirmed, stuttered and stammered, although in the end I reluctantly confirmed her suspicions and told her that I'd been out, "ffffffishing."
Around our house, over the next week, the tension was so thick you could cut it with knife. I tried my usual lines with no success, my wife was wise to my tricks. Every day after work she found chores for me. One day I cut the lawn, another day I fixed the roof, then I cleaned up some large branches that had fallen. That was a big mistake. As I lifted one of those branches it felt like a twin to my sturgeon rod. I floated off into a dream world -- I was hallucinating and vividly imagined a huge diamond-sided beast of a fish pulling for all it was worth on my limb-like fishin' pole. That is until my wife brought me back to reality with a good, sharp rap to the side of the head.
Well, that's the story of my lifelong addiction. At the present time I'm enrolled in a rehabilitation program for overindulged fishing addicts. Our group, that meets each and every weekend, rain or shine, includes both men and women, the young, as well as the old. Why heck, some of my friends and neighbors attend these meetings. For therapy on the hopeless and most pitiful cases old Dr. Piscatorial has prescribed only one medication -- plenty of fishing and fun, as often as required.
Perhaps, after all is said and done, my entire family should get the blame for getting me hopelessly hooked on fishin'. Thinking back, they were all a pack of pushers. My mom and dad were both pushers; my uncles and aunts were pushers; my own brother was a pusher. They pushed me into every fishing trip they could afford. Now, I'm a pusher. I'm pushing my kids, the neighborhood kids and the kids at school. Truthfully, I'm pushing any kid. I give them their first sweet taste of fishing and the great outdoors -- hoping like any good pusher, that I can get them all hooked for life.