Almost nine years ago, as Linda and I began
discussing "tying the knot," many considerations
had to be dealt with. The main one; I was about
to inherit two daughters, Wendy and April. Wendy,
being twenty-one, was already out of the house.
April, however, was the typical sixteen-year old
and still lived at home. I never had kids, and
this became an important consideration in the
upcoming union. Oh boy!?
A few interesting events were to unfold as the
courtship began with April's mom.
As mentioned, April was a typical teenaged girl,
if there's anything "typical" about a teenager;
abrupt mood swings, temper tantrums, boy friends;
all disturbing things I had heard of, but never
witnessed for myself. I was thrown from the fryin'
pan, right slap-dab into the roaring flames. I
actually saw a scene from The Exorcist played
out right before my very eyes, and on more than
one occasion! I wasn't prepared for this, but I
was bound and determined to overcome the culture
shock I had entered into.
I was also introduced to a new word. I'm not
sure if there's a correct way to spell it.
Eee-yooooo! That's the best I
can do in as far as the spelling, but it
didn't take long to figure out when the word
was to be used. The word must be used
simultaneously as something is displayed to
be eaten, or discussed that doesn't seem
pleasant to the observer. I heard that same
word when I brought home a nice sea trout for
supper. I heard it when I discussed cookin' up
a mess of frog legs, gator tail, venison, or
anything that didn't come out of a Styrofoam
container or cardboard box from a fast-food
I must admit, I have messed with both of these
kids' heads. I confess that I knew they hadn't
been properly introduced to my world of the
outdoors; the different foods and sayings. I
figured it was my sworn duty to do the best I
could to educate them in ways they may never
have been privileged to discover. They sure as
hell never discovered the things I had, way back
when. So, class was officially in session!
Linda and I used to load up and take off for
the day, and part of the night, leaving April
to fend for herself. It's not like we didn't
leave her money, or food and drink. We did
just that one morning as we lit out for the
west coast of Florida.
I had barbequed two slabs of spare ribs the
night before, including baked beans, potato
salad and other southern delights. She ate
supper with us, and best I could tell wolfed
more ribs than Linda and me put together.
There were plenty of leftovers that I wrapped
in foil, and placed in the 'fridge for her to
munch on the following day. But as I said, I
just had to mess with the kid's head.
While Linda was in the shower and April was
still fast asleep, at eleven in the mornin',
I wrote April a note on the notepad that was
on the 'fridge door. It read somethin' like this...
"We have run off to Montana and won't be back
for three months. If you get hungry, croak the
parrot (Fred, the Amazon) and cook him up in some
garlic butter with a squeeze of lemon. When you've
eaten Fred all up, start on Max, our dog, he should
last you until we return if you cook him the right
way. If all of this is too much for you to handle,
there are barbequed pigs' feet in the 'fridge,
wrapped in foil."
We got home around nine thirty to find April in
a fit of rage, cussin' us out for not leavin' her
somethin' to eat. I attempted to squeeze in a word
edge wise and ask her why she didn't eat the
leftover ribs. "Those aren't ribs, they're PIGS'
FEET!" she screamed. We had picked up a nice,
smoked mullet at a little store and had picked
at it all day. Linda flung it up on the counter,
all wrapped nicely in white, butchers' paper, then
told April to try some of it. April opened the
wrap to find a butter-flied, fins still on, smoked
fish. She ran screaming into her room, slammed
the door and told us we were disgusting. No gratitude,
Sometime later, April moved out of the house. A
few months after that, she called and invited
herself over for supper. I had grilled a nice
ham of venison, complete with fresh garlic,
rosemary and cracked peppercorns. Linda had
whipped up some smashed potatoes, and nice pot
of green beans. April shows up and proceeds to
eat the grilled venison 'til it came out of her
ears! Then wants to know what kind of meat it
was. Linda and I looked at her straight-faced
and said, "venison". April didn't have a clue
as to what venison was, and we sure as hell
weren't gonna tell her. Two days later, April
calls, gets me on the phone and cusses me out,
screaming, "You fed me Bambi!!!" Her sister,
Wendy, informed her, what "venison" was. From
then on, April would check the garbage can in
the kitchen lookin' for meat wrappers, making
sure I wasn't pullin' a fast one at the supper
After the first grandson was born, I told April
I would have him on his first red fish before
he was one year old. They were over one afternoon,
as I returned from the flats. I had kept a nice
twenty-seven inch red for supper. After the
"Eee-yooooo!!!" when she saw the fish, I went
in, picked up the grandson, plopped him, diaper
and all, right down on top of the fish that was
laying on the fillet board, proudly proclaiming,
"I told you I would have him on his first red
before he was one year old!" You guessed it,
After all these years, I figured the two girls
had gotten used to me. All the tricks I've played
on them, all in good humor, of course.
Last weekend, Wendy and April came over with all
seven grandkids. As I was grillin' hamburgers
outside, the girls found some of my articles
I've written for FAOL, and Linda let them read
them. Some of these stories have yet to be
published and some of them were written,
"tongue-in-cheek", never being meant to be
read as serious stories; humorous observations...
you know, crazy stuff.
Nothing was said by either of them, but they
kept peering at me over the sheets of paper
while reading; like I had done something wrong;
as though I had tortured a cat, or something.
After they had left, Linda and I were sitting
on the back porch enjoying the quietness of
the evening, when out of the blue, Linda pops
up and says, "You know they think you're crazy?"
I had only written about talking to poppin' bugs;
giving rods and reels their own voices; spelling
what frogs say down by the lake. Me? Crazy? They
even told Linda they "understood." Understood
what? Linda just looked at me and smiled.
Why did she look at me like that?
Wait 'til they read this little piece of work!
See y'all next week. ~ Capt. Gary
Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much
of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area.
After moving a little closer to the coast, his
interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still
visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."
He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's
and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little
over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow
water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came
around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary
doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the
waters will ever be present.
Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater
patterns in the early '90's and has participated as
a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers
on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting
and tying instructor and stained glass artist,
creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.