Capt. Gary Henderson, Florida

January 17th, 2005

I'm Not Crazy

By Captain Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson
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 joint.

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, this kid!

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 table.

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, "Eee-yooooo!!!"

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

About 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.

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