It ran alright, but I rebuilt the thing anyhow. It didn't suit me. After all, I paid
forty bucks for it and it burned oil. I was sixteen and overhauling the engine of
a '41 chev just didn't seem like a problem. My problem was this. Should I
polish it all up pretty, or take the hood off and let the chrome goodies I had
added show. Since I had not yet defined myself to myself, (or anyone else
for that matter) I did both. I kept the hood loose so I could remove it by
hand whenever the idea occurred to me. Yes, I defined myself to others
by the looks of my rat-trap car. But, you must understand, I was young
and had not yet matured.
Looking back I see that with the passing of many years . . . I still do it. I
define myself to myself and others by my 'Goodies.' I notice I also define
others by the same standards! For instance, living in Montana would not
be bearable without a pick-up truck, a gun rack (with a gun or fishing-pole
in it) and owning at least one (preferably big) dog. Some in other states
need large belt-buckles or they dare not wear the matching hats. Guess
we are all a bit funny about this kind of stuff.
I recall fishing at Buffalo Ford on the Yellowstone river one nice summer day. I
wore my heavy waders with one of the straps crossed over my shoulders so
I looked like a jerk, (no shirt under the waders,) and as unobserved as I could
manage, landed trout after trout. No one bothered to watch such a goofy
looking guy. I chose to define myself that day to suit my needs. Had I
worn my regular fly-vest I would have been very noticeable. I did not
want company, I wanted to fish.
I see I am doing it again these days. My wife has a new fly rod on order, one she
has wanted for about thirty years and she has decided she 'needs' a new reel for
it too. She is perusing catalogs again. She has settled on one. The rod is a custom-made
Russ Peak, eight and a half foot five weight, made by Kerry Burkheimer. The reel
she will get is a Thistle (fully ported of course) from J. Austin Forbes. They will
"look good together," she says. She is right, they will, they will also help to 'define'
her as a chick of quality and experience. She is both of those.
Me? My new rod? Right, it's a eight and a half foot Gatti five weight, three piece.
My reel for it? The same one as hers. Not any better, not any less, exactly the same
reels. The only difference will be the engraved initials on each. We are having a good
time selecting these new 'goodies.' They will be our main rods at the
Fish-In 2001 this summer.
By 'defining' in all of this I am referring not just to what I (perhaps many of us)
want others to think about each of us, but how I (and others too) actually feel
about ourselves. Our self-image is important. There is nothing wrong with that.
My self-image dictates many of the things I do in fly-fishing and everyday life
as well. Over the years, I suppose it may change a bit, mature some I hope,
but it is still there, controlling many of the things I am and what I do.
You might give a little thought to this kind of stuff when you are ready to plunk
down some hard earned cash for a new rod or reel. 'Goodies' can say a lot about
who we are, at least for today they can. Think about this. Who owns a cane rod,
lots of cane rods, a new cane rod, an old cane rod, a fiberglass rod, a graphite
rod, a Labrador dog, a toy poodle, a click-and pawl reel, a fast retrieve reel,
a camouflaged fly vest, a vest with every pocket filled with fly boxes, anything
with the price tag still on it, uses mono instead of a leader, ties his own leaders?
See what I mean? 'Goodies' count ~ James Castwell