Maxed out 

Lessons in life and fuchsia gummy worms

There are a lot of reasons right now to be worried, depressed, in denial, angry, suicidal, homicidal and just downright cantankerous. Summer’s proving to be a dud again this year. It’s still five months to the start of ski season. Gas is expensive, food is too. The Olympics are still coming. And Whistler’s breaking new ground on the cutting edge of sustainability by fostering “affordable” housing that follows the time-tested model of single-family homes, for people who just can’t give up on the dream.

What’s a guy to do?

Go fishing.

I haven’t been thinking about going fishing just because it’s the most sedentary activity known to mankind. I’ve been thinking about going fishing because George Carlin died. It was George who said, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.” Truer words were never spoken.

As hobbies or pastimes go, I guess fishing is no stranger than any other, assuming “other” embraces such pursuits as philately and numismatics. For the terminally insecure though, there is security in numbers — at least for the insecure who feel more comfortable hiding out in large groups — and fishing is still the most widely practiced sport, hobby, distraction, time-wasting excuse for sittin’ around drinking beer in the world. It touches man’s primal instincts to challenge nature, secure food, and get things tangled up beyond hope.

Some people believe fishing is a metaphor for life. These people are not fishermen; they are philosophers. Fishermen — and I include myself in that grouping notwithstanding that in some bizarre twist of irony I’ve never done so little fishing as I have since I bought a cottage on a lake — believe life is a metaphor for fishing. We are fools. And any place there happens to be water filled to any degree with fish, or even the hope of a promise of fish, is Fools’ Paradise.

While it may be important to include women in the broad and politically incorrect moniker “fishermen”, fishing is, at its very soul, a guy thing and women who pursue it with passion are channeling their inner guy. Anything that involves as much pointless sitting around waiting for something to happen as fishing does is, by definition, a guy thing.

And that’s probably just as well. Fishing is one of those primal activities that both define the cosmic essence of being a guy and at the same time undermine it in at least two very significant ways. It has become a standing joke that guys are incapable of distinguishing between or naming more than six colours: red, green, blue, purple, orange and yellow. This is, of course, in stark contrast to many women who can name at least six subtle variations of an infinite number of colours, many of which only exist in cosmetics, home furnishings and the seasonal change of “fashionable” hues.

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