Uncle Ethelbert, the Blouse, JJ, and the Catfish



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Every family has its loons. In fact, in my family I might be one. In any event, my wife’s family did not escape the assault of members who might be considered a little off-center.

Take Uncle Ethelbert, for example. His first wife Mary was a Beauty Queen, with no good taste except the body she was given at birth. Mary did have a kind heart, however, and once sent a blouse to her mother-in-law, my wife's grandmother, as a gift.  It was a hideous, printed satin blouse, embellished with every conceivable flower and color. It was the kind of gift my wife would say only a husband could purchase.

Now, Grandma had some sense of style and a clothing standard. Mary’s gift did not qualify. So Grandma, rather than waste the item, sent it to her sister, Evelyn, as a birthday present. Evelyn, having been blessed with sight at birth, re-gifted the blouse to her daughter, Rosemarie, who was a little more daring. But Rosemarie was not ready for the funny farm. When the time was right, she passed on the awful material as a Christmas present to Mary, who thanked Rosemarie and wore it proudly for life. When Mary died, Ethelbert notified the family a month later by sending postcards to everyone saying, “Mary died.” Strange family.

Now, what could that possibly have to do with me or a catfish? Well, I had a hell of a summer, about which to this point I have not written. Nevertheless, I fished a great deal this year, mostly around mainland Florida and the Keys. I did little else but write and fish most of 2013, and many might think that quite strange.

On one occasion, about two months ago, I heard about a run of tarpon coming through the Matanzas inlet north of Daytona. With a quick upgrade to heavier tackle, I jumped into my Jeep, with my wife, and took off after the elusive species. The tarpon escaped my pursuit, but it was not long before a vicious tug nearly ripped the rod holder from my vehicle. I was convinced I was experiencing a tarpon strike, so the enjoyment was exquisite, albeit false. When the man-beast struggle appeared to be over, I had landed a gigantic catfish, unlike any I had seen before. Pride cometh before the fall.

I have been fishing my entire life, and some of my adventures were risky at best. Over the years, I had learned the art of focus. Rarely did I lose concentration. Yet, on this occasion, I felt the need to lift the giant sea creature for all to see. I moved my eyes from the beast for merely a second when it spun around and lunged at me with a vengeance, driving its spiked barb through my hand. Getting hooked or fin spiked is part of fishing, but this became a new experience. The barb pierced my hand coming out the other side, with enough blood spurting to draw in sharks from Australia. The barb had to be cut, since I could not pull it back through the hand.

The pain of such a catfish spike has been written about often, but never personally experienced by me. Many believe it contains some kind of venom, and it certainly felt that way. I could not stop the bleeding, so I put my hand in the salt water, took out my first aid kit, and taped up the wound best I could. Fearing infection, I knew I had to race home, contain the bleeding, cover my hand with hydrogen peroxide, and wrap it with a secure bandage. Before I left, however, I realized that everything in life comes full circle. I had assaulted fish with my poor behavior for many years, and now it was my turn to be victimized. Without anger, I released the ugly creature, unharmed, to its sanctuary in the sea.

I am still harboring the pain, the lump, and the scars. Unlike other strange people, I will wear them not-so-proudly for life.

. . .

Comments

  1. When I was six, we were fishing for albacore and ran into a school of sharks, about 200 lbs. Our host caught one and was nipped while removing the hook. He was so angry he sliced the shark several times before cutting the line. The shark blood started a cannibal frenzy that was very scary. It was interesting and cool at the time being only 6.

    I much prefer your enlightened reaction and understanding!

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    1. joeh: Thank you. At 6, it was cool.

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  2. I get your Full Circle analogy, but JJ this was painful to read. I am so sorry about your hand. Sounds like you are on the mend now, but what a terrible experience. ((Hugs)) to you, my friend.

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    1. Robin: I have learned to absorb pain. It was just an experience. But thanks for the hug.

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  3. Catfish is tasty, especially when prepared in the Cajun style.
    You are good to think about life's circuitous manner and yet I think that you are not to blame here. Just an unfortunate turn of events.
    Hopefully your memory of this will soften over time, as do scars and the like.

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    1. Jasmine: I have tasted it, but I can't get over what they eat. It's psychological.

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  4. Wow, I bet in the next month or so, u will somehow find humor in this experience... it seems u always do find a lesson or some funny in your adventures. :-) Can't wait to see that post.

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  5. I was hoping that Aunt Mary's blouse could've been used to stop the bleeding. That must've been excruciatingly painful. I'm so sorry that you're still in pain JJ.

    Julie

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    1. Julie: As they used to say, "It smarts!"

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  6. I was hoping for a photo--of the fish, not your hand, which I hope is speedily mending.

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    1. Galen: Thank you. No time for photos. I was too busy attracting sharks and vampires.

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  7. Whoa, that's some story, JJ. Take care of that hand. Life is definitely full of the unexpected.

    Kudos to Mary. At least she received something SHE liked. LOL.

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    1. Michael: You have to give her credit. She was no phony.

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  8. That is some fish tale JJ. Good for you for setting the valiant winner free. As for Mary and the regifting tale, I thought the punch line would be Mary was buried in the blouse.

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  9. I loved reading about your family... HA!!

    I'm slowly feeling better about mine...

    That catfish stick however... that's one of the most painful things I've ever experienced... my brother-in-law used to tell me, 'son, don't let that thing stick you!'

    AUGH!!!

    I hope you are better...

    ~shoes~

    PS: I wish there had been a photo of that gift Mary gave AND received!!! Truly proof positive that what goes around comes around...

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    1. Shoes: It really stuck me. Like 100 hornet stings at once!

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  10. Oh my I feel so bad for you and hopefully all goes well and you'll be back out there fishing again, as I know how much you enjoy fishing!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Karen: Thank you! I have been fishing one-handed, but at least I'm still fishing. Tying the hook on is a problem.

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