August 6th, 2007|
"I don't know how I feel about you fishing with single women," she
said with obvious hesitation and a touch of concern that was too
genuine to ignore.
"Spending the whole day in the middle of nowhere with some woman I have never even met – it bothers me a little."
"Really? I didn't think you were the jealous type. Don't you trust me?"
"I trust YOU. I don't trust some woman I've never met to be alone with you for a whole day with nobody else around," explained LTW.
"Well, I was wondering, because I know you don't have such issues with some women that you do know. So your statement was curious," I said.
"I think it's the fact that I've never met her that makes me uneasy," my wife continued.
"Well, we can fix that, babe. You can meet her anytime you like. She's an artist, too. And she has expressed a keen interest in meeting you. Then you can decide whether or not she has your blessing," I offered.
Several minutes passed without further reference to the notion of me going float fishing with a local female fly fishing industry professional. Then, out of the blue, LTW spoke again.
"This actually happens quite a bit. Doesn't it?"
"You fishing with women I haven't met."
I said after a moment of reflection, "Yes, but almost always in mixed groups."
LTW looked a bit uncomfortable as she said rather flatly, "I'm not sure I'm okay with that, either."
With that, I let the subject drop. I had to think about that a bit before continuing because this was such a strange turn in our relationship. We've always been very secure and tolerated quite a bit of flirtation and interaction with members of the opposite sex in our twelve year marriage. So I wanted to chew on this one awhile before proceeding to any sort of proposed resolution. It didn't come up again for a couple of days. Neither did the float trip!
Then it dawned on me. I thought I knew what was bugging the LTW. But I would have to ask to be sure.
"Are you jealous of the fact that I am spending time with other women doing something I truly love and you aren't a part of it?" I asked her one afternoon in a quiet moment in our apartment.
"I don't like the word 'jealous,' but yes...I think that is it," she said rather frankly. It was as if we had both been silently thinking it over for the past couple of days and had come to the same conclusion. Frankly, that happens more often than not.
She continued, "I feel like they are sharing something special with you that I'm not a part of. And that makes me sad...like I'm missing something. I want to be a part of everything that is important to you. It really doesn't have anything to do with insecurity about you spending time with other women. I trust you. But it's a sort of selfish 'I don't want to share you' kind of thing that has nothing to do with sexuality."
"I think I understand where you're coming from," I replied. "You know, it may be time for you to think about taking up fly fishing."
There. I said it! The cat was out of the bag now. There was no turning back. I had opened the Pandora's Box of my own making on that fateful day in the first year of our marriage when I suddenly threw a temper tantrum at a broken fishing rod that cost me a trophy bass and broke every other rod in the boat, tossed the tackle box overboard, and resorted to a few minutes of language I had learned during my stint in the US Navy. The LTW swore she would never fish with me again after that, and I knew why. Her father had been a hot-tempered and unpredictable abuser. I had scared her and reminded her of her early childhood before God had answered her prayers and struck her father down in his late twenties with a sudden brain hemorrhage. Yeah, there's a HUGE lesson in there somewhere, too! But I'm not going to touch that one with a ten foot pole. Now I could only wait for the inevitable response.
"You know, it's funny you say that. I've been thinking about it for awhile now. And I think you're right. I think it would be fun," she said with a slight smile. Then she added, "BUT! You know why I quit fishing with you before, right? You have to promise not to do anything like that again!"
"Honey, you know that I was undiagnosed, untreated, and un-medicated when that happened; and that I had been back home for less than two years. You know I am a different person now. And I simply don't behave like that anymore. But you also know that it is always a possibility that I could slip up briefly without any warning or forethought. So I can only promise you that I will TRY and that I doubt very seriously anything like that will ever happen again."
"Well I'm just telling you," she said, "if you freak out on me again, I will quit and never try again."
"Fair enough," I said.
And that settled it. The LTW was going to take up fly fishing. Now, I thought that was just awesome! At the same time, it was a bit scary. Nowadays, I am keenly aware of my disability... thus my own limitations. And twelve years down the road, I know enough about the way LTW learns and takes instruction to know that we have a huge compatibility problem on our hands. It is obvious to me that I will not be able to teach her myself. And with the soft real estate market this year, we don't really have the extra money laying around to pay for private lessons from the professionals I actually respect enough to pay them any amount of money to teach my wife the fundamentals of fly fishing. But I am in luck!
In about six weeks, Dave and Emily Whitlock will be giving a weekend seminar for our local FFF chapter. And I am on the organizing committee. It was already on my calendar to be there all weekend. And I knew it was far enough in advance that LTW could clear her schedule as well. And attendance was free to club members and members of their households. What better way to get introduced to fly fishing than by Dave and Emily Whitlock! Fortune was indeed smiling on us this time.
About a week later, I happened to be in Carolyn Parker's fly shop in Branson. She was talking with a woman at the register about her upcoming ladies only all day fly fishing seminar. Hmmmm...I didn't even know Carolyn did these seminars. But I darned well knew she was one of the best instructors in the business. She was one of the few on the list I thought I couldn't afford. Carolyn is the owner of the Orvis-endorsed Outfitter of the Year for 2006, River Run Outfitters. And she is a graduate of the Joan Wulff Fly Casting Instructor School. And she serves on the board of directors of IWFF as the Industry Committee Chairperson. She has better credentials as a teacher than almost anyone within 150 miles of us. And I have known her for many years, and knew her to be an excellent guide and teacher with a manner and methodology that would suit LTW just fine. So I figured I'd better ask.
"Carolyn, when is that seminar?"
"It's the second Saturday in June, Ken. But you can't come. It's ladies only," Carolyn answered across the shop with a smile.
"I'm not asking for me, Carolyn. Wilma wants to learn to fly fish. I was thinking I might put her in your class. How much does it cost?"
"It's seventy-five dollars. If she wants to do it, she needs to sign up soon. I only take about ten ladies at a time and I have six signed up already," Carolyn explained.
"Well, then let's put her down for it. What's the deposit? I'll just take care of that now."
So now LTW is signed up for the first weekend in June with Dave and Emily Whitlock and the second Saturday in June in a small ladies only group with Carolyn Parker. Excellent! I don't think you could come up with a better wish list for a beginner's instruction at any price. And the whole thing was going to cost me $75! I was pretty pleased. I was also quite relieved. I have great admiration for all three of these people. And I knew they would build a foundation with LTW that I could then rely upon to carry her further without conflict. I mean, when your husband tells you this is the right way to do a thing, you usually question whether or not that is actually so. But when Dave Whitlock or Carolyn Parker tells you that this is the right way to cast, tie a knot, mend a line, read water, select a rod, and so forth; you just don't doubt it for a second. And my own fishing style coincides with and has been influenced heavily by theirs. So I could then reiterate things she had already been taught by these unassailable masters of fly fishing, and the whole husband-and-wife element would be defeated. You know? That whole "familiarity breeds contempt" thing. We've seen most of our spouse's screw-ups. We know them too well in a way. But only Emily sees all of Dave's imperfections. To a casual observer, he is a flawless icon of fly fishing expertise, a grand gentleman, and a talented artist. On the other hand, LTW has read my medical charts. Such intimacy naturally puts one at a disadvantage. But this scheme was going to work!
With the Whitlock seminar only a few weeks away, I needed to shift my attention to getting LTW a few essential pieces of gear. And that will be the subject of the next installment of Fishing with LTW.
About Ken:Ken graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1988 and spent the next four years in the US Navy working in the intelligence field. He is a veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. After the military, Ken carved out a niche for himself as a recreational real estate consultant, wingshooting guide, and outdoor writer. His expertise lays mostly in marketing, development, and management of hunting clubs, country clubs and non-profit organizations. He has been a dedicated activist for wildlife conservation, water quality issues, and civil liberties. He is a former member of the National Association of Realtors, the Missouri Realtors Association, and the Tri-lakes Board of Realtors. And he has managed, redesigned, and developed a number of wingshooting clubs in the Midwest. Along the way, he has appeared as a guide on Hunting Across America on the Outdoor Channel and was a frequent guest on the syndicated radio talk show, Hunting the Midwest.
In 2005, a hereditary condition caused Ken's early retirement. He is now disabled, but still writes extensively on a range of outdoor topics. He is also the Ozarks Regional Coordinator for Project Healing Waters. Ken lives in the downtown arts district of Springfield, Missouri, with his lovely and talented wife, Wilma (who is a REALTOR and professional artist/designer who immigrated here from Germany) and their amazing wunderhund, Cave Creek's Smoky Joe...a male Weimaraner. Together, the three of them frequently travel the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas to fly fish, and occasionally venture to more distant destinations with their fly rods or shotguns close at hand.
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