Back to the flatlands again, and my older son starts school tomorrow, and so ends, most abruptly, our summer idyll. I’ve been getting up early to go fishing with my father the last two weeks while on vacation, and today I managed to sleep in until 6:45. A good pattern to be in, I suppose, with real-world scheduling starting up, but somehow, it’s a lot easier to wake up to go fishing than to go to the bus stop.
I don’t know a lot of people who go fishing. Though the free-falling decline in hunting and fishing in this country may have leveled off, it’s still not all that common anymore. Especially for me, a Lady Angler, as identified by even my fishing rod, which is for ladies.
The lake we were fishing, Long Pond in Rome, Maine, was not a particularly crowded or busy one. And at 6am, it was generally quite peaceful. We travel in a banged up aluminum boat with chipped paint and a 6 horsepower Evinrude outboard motor. Occasionally, as we sat waiting for fish, the BassMasters would buzz by. The BassMasters travel in fast, Bass Tracker boats with muscley motors. The BassMasters are men’s men. They race from fishing spot to fishing spot as if it actually mattered that they get there quickly.
In the evenings, my father watched the nightly news. Being of the thirty-something demographic, I never watch the tv news at home, and I was enthralled at the advertising lineup. With laser-like focus, these commercials targeted the aging baby boomers. Every spot featured bowel irregularities, erectile dysfunction, cholesterol meds, osteoporosis, or, as in the most grotesquely fascinating ad, a dumpy looking guy applying liquid testosterone to his armpits. For, the commercial informs us, “it could be low T.” This became a joke in the house: “feeling less aggressive? Less prone to rape and murder these days? Not feeling the need to swagger and strut obnoxiously everywhere you go? It could be low testosterone!” The whole thing struck me as ludicrous, and sure enough, on further inspection, there is loud protest from many doctors that this is a creation of the drug companies who are feeding on the insecurities of aging men who naturally lose some muscle mass, or libido, or what have you, after the age of 60. In my observation, however, what the world needs now is not, in fact, more T.
Case in point: as my father and I were fishing one of our favored spots between two small islands, an older man cruised into the area at trolling speed. He made a wide circle around us, but close enough to make it clear he wanted the spot. There is no friendly waving between fishermen in this situation; it bears no resemblance to the boozy greetings between party boaters. We kept our eyes down, and the trolling man focused on his lines. My father has a monomaniacal focus on bass during his two week vacations, and when he’s not out fishing, he’s sitting by the water watching the people who are. He’ll point and say, “Look at him! Look at that bastard right there off the point! He must have been sitting there waiting for our spot!” It’s half-joking, but only half.
My father landed a good sized bass as trolling man happened to be passing close by. I wanted a picture of the fish and had my father held it up. “Good,” I said, “Ok, he can go.” But instead of releasing the fish, he paused, suspending it over the water for a few moments. “What are you doing?” I asked him, and then looked up. The trolling fisherman was directly behind us, and my father was making sure he got a good look.
Could it be low T? No, it could not. At least on Long Pond, the shores are fairly awash in it.