Sunday, February 18, 2007

Takes A Lickin' And Keeps On Tickin'

You guessed it, another Clyde story from my memory bank! (Who's Clyde?)

Yeah, I done a lot of fishin' in my day. Don't matter what's bitin' I like to catch 'em. Even Carp. Most folks think Carp's a junk fish and ain't no good to eat. That ain't so. Gotta know how to clean 'em, gotta know how to cook 'em. And the bigger the fish the better. My favorite way is to smoke them Carp. Used to have a smoker, and when we'd get a mess of big Carp, that's what we'd do. Nothin' better than to eat smoked Carp on a hot summer evening and drink beer.

Do most of my fishin' these days with a pole, but I used to run outlines and jug fish a lot. Jug fishin's a real good time. Back in them days we'd buy a couple cases of cheap beer in bottles, drink one case of it, stopper up the end of the bottle so it'd float. Then we'd tie a hunk of fishin' line on the bottle neck and a hook on 'ta other end. Bait them up, set them driftin' on the water, lay back in the boat and drink beer until you see the bottles a bobbin' in the water. You get a case or two of 'jugs' out there, and it could keep you mighty busy!

But my favorite fishin' is for big ol' lunker catfish. I'm talkin' flatheads bigger than 20 pound. In my younger days I used to go catfish hoggin'. Ya'll get in the water, look for an undercut place along the bank. That's where them big catfish like to roost. You find a likely place, and start feelin' around under the water until you find one. Gotta be gentle, not move too fast. Them fish can be skittish. You tickle that big ol' cat's belly, and it calms them down. Give 'em a good belly rub, and it kind a puts them to sleep. Do that for a spell, then grab 'em! Inside the gills is a good place, but man them gill slits are sharp and cut your arms up fierce. But you pretty much have to grab 'em where you can. If you're lucky and got a big one, hang on brother! A thirty pounder will give ya'll a tussle and a half! Plum tucker you out to get him back to shore too.

Reminds me of the time me and a couple buddies went out on the river years back. You got to know where to look for them lunkers, and there's some mighty deep holes we knowed about that them cats liked to be. When you fish for the big ones, don't never set your pole down when the bait's in the water. Them cats will play around with the bait a spell, but when they take it, they take it fast, and you ain't gonna grab that pole quick enough. You could lose your pole, reel and all in a flash.

Now you talk to ten different catfish men, and you'll get ten different favorite baits. Some guys swear by night crawlers, some by dead minners, some by stink bait. A catfish will eat 'bout anything, truth be told. I done caught cats on all those kind of baits, but my favorite is chicken guts. Fresh chicken guts. That's what gets the big 'uns. We knowed a guy what butchered chickens, and we could get all the fresh guts we wanted.

We cut the motor when we got close to the hole, and drifted the rest of the way in. Last thing ya'll want to do is make noise. No clangin' and bangin' in the goddam boat, whisper when you talk. Them fish pick that noise up through the water and they're gone! We quietly baited up, and cast into the hole. Weren't about 2 minutes when I felt somethin' a nibblin' at my bait. You got to pay attention, 'cause even a big fish can be gentle like when they start. You got to be patient too. Got to know the right time to set the hook, or you just gave a catfish a free dinner.

That fish toyed with the bait for quite a spell, then I felt him take it. I pulled up on my pole with ever thing I had, and 'bout pulled my arms out of the sockets. That fish didn't move! Lord have mercy, he was a big 'un! He started to run, and I held the pressure on the pole. Felt like he was hooked real good, and he was playin' out a lot of line.

There's one thing 'bout them big cats, they fight like hell. So I held my rod high, and he started to tucker out. I started pumpin' my rod up and down, takin' in line, and finally got his big ass up to the boat. Son of a bitch, he was a monster! I hollered to my buddy, "Get the net, get the net!" But there 'twern't no net. We remembered the beer, but forgot the net.

I got the biggest cat I ever seen on my line, and no net to get him in the boat! I kept playin' him to tucker him out even more while a buddy got on each side of me. I was gonna get him as close to the boat as I could, and they was gonna grab him. He finally quit shakin' and was just a-floatin' on the water, so I held his head high and they took a grab. Each buddy had a hold of a fin. They got the head on the side of the boat but his tail was still in the water. I reached down to grab the fish by the mouth and drag him in, when that fish shook his head one last time, shook the hook, and my buddies lost their grip!

Without even thinkin' I dropped my pole,went to grab the bottom lip of the fish, but the cat swung his head and my hand went into its mouth. Then the bastard swallered my arm up to the elbow, and clamped down tight! Man, it hurt like hell! The more I yanked tryin' to get my arm out, the tighter that cat clamped down. What was worse, he was a-thrashin' around tryin' to get back in the water, and he was gonna take my ass with him! One of my buddies grabbed me around the waist to keep me in the boat, and the other started whackin' the fish on the head with his fists. Now why this punkin head didn't grab the damn fish and drag him in the boat is a mystery to me. But it happened so fast, and I was bellerin' and cussin' at the top of my voice, reckon he just wanted the fish to let go.

And the cat did let go. In one second, the cat unclamped his mouth and slipped back into the water. I looked at my arm, and it was all cut up and bleedin'. And I not only lost the biggest fish I ever seen, my wrist watch was gone too! Goddam fish ate it and took it with him! Damn fine watch it were. One of them Timex waterproof, shockproof, magnetproof watches that was a self-winder too.

A few years after that, we was out lunker fishin' again. I finally caught a cat what looked like he was bigger than the one that got away, out of the same river. We took him home, gonna steak him out and have us a big fish fry. He weighed forty-two and three quarter pound! Now there's only one way to skin a cat that big. I had my buddies hold him up whilst I nailed him to a tree at my place. Couple big ol' nails right in the head. Them big cats got a hide on 'em like leather, so it took some doin' to skin him out.

We put a bucket under him when we went to gut him. I slit the belly, and all the guts fell into the bucket, and I heard a 'clunk' noise. What the hell, I started siftin' through the guts to see what that cat done ate. What do you think I found? My watch! If I'm lyin' I'm dyin', the same damn watch I lost a couple years ago was still in the belly of the same damn fish what tried to drag my ass out of the boat! The damn thing was still runnin', and had the right time to boot!

I still got that watch, still got the scars on my arm from when I first met Mr. Big Ol' Catfish. And the watch still works perfect. When they tell you them Timex watches take a lickin' and keep on tickin', it be a fact!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Story Teller: Part Two

Here's another story from my old buddy Clyde. (Who's Clyde?) I'm going to tell it like he did, so be forewarned; adult language and content is included!

I used to ride motorcycles back in West Virginia. Never had no money to buy my own, but one of my buddies used to let me borry his. He had a 1951 Indian Chief, and a pretty thing it was. He kept it all polished up and clean. It shined like a diamond in a goat's ass.

Well, my buddy was laid up sick and told me I could have the Indian for the weekend, just be careful with it and clean it up when I was done. Now that was just the ticket! I decided to go pick up the gal I was seein' at the time and go for a ride. She was a fine gal, and loved to go ridin' with me. So I brought along a jug, she hopped on and we went out ridin' and boozin'.

Now ridin' a bike in West Virginia ain't for no sissy. There ain't a level spot of ground in the whole state. You're either goin' up, or goin' down, and the roads in them days would go from pavement to dirt in a wink. We was on a paved part of a road, tippin' the jug and havin' a high old time. After a spell, my gal got to feelin' frisky, and was holdin' on to somethin' other than my waist, if ya know what I mean. So I pulled the bike off the road near some woods, figurin' me and her would have a little more serious fun.

We was both pretty snockered up. Both of us staggered off the bike, and I headed for the woods. "Where you goin' Clyde honey?" she asked.
"Well, 'less ya'll want to do it right here alongside the road, I figured we'd hit the woods, gal!"
She got a big ol' smile on her face. "You reckon we could do it on the bike?"
"I reckon so, but it won't be so comfortable." I started undoin' my drawers.
"Clyde honey, you reckon we could do it on the bike, while we're ridin'?" she said.
Now I ain't no coward, but that idea did seem a little dangerous. "You mean while I'm drivin' the bike?"
She throwed her arms around my neck and said. "Yeah darlin'. I could lay up on the gas tank and the handlebars, and you could get it in me on the fly!" Man, was she drunk! But I was too. She sat up on the handlebars, hiked her skirt up and tempted me. So I figured, what the hell!

So we're goin' down the road, coupled up real good. Goin' up and down the hills of West Virginia, gettin' a mighty fine thrill. She's gettin' into it, and helpin' out much as she can. We come to one of them tall hills, a cardiac hill they call 'em back home. That's 'cause they're so steep, if you had to walk up 'em your heart would give out. My gal's eyes are rolled back, and she starts hollerin', "Faster Clyde! Faster!"I wasn't sure if she meant me or the bike, so I done both.

We get up the top of the hill and she's moanin' and groanin like nobody's business. Now I'm ready to blow my nuts, and we go down the hill faster than greased shit. I'm startin' to get the funny feelin' and us and the bike were goin' damned fast. Then the road turned to dirt, and I lost control of the bike.

Went off the road goin' so fast I jumped a ditch. I was hangin' on for dear life to them handle bars, but my gal didn't have nothin' to hold on to. Her bare ass flew off the bike when I finally hit the ground. Don't know how I done it, but I kept the bike upright. But I was headed for some big ol' hogs that were wallowin' in the mud. Don't remember if there was a fence or not. If there was, I went right through it.

So there I was, with my dick hangin' out and floppin' all over, headin' for two big hogs. Oh Lord, if I die this way, just have them hogs eat me so my Momma don't know the particulars! But soon as I got closer to the hogs, I hit some mud that slowed me down just enough that I could steer around 'em. Home free? Nope. Ran into a big tree stump, stopped the bike cold, and I went over the handle bars, ass over teacup.

Next thing I know, I'm layin' on the ground all coverd with mud, pig shit and blood, with a big ol' State Trooper standin' over me. Don't know how long I laid there, but I looked around and couldn't see nothin' of my gal. Found out later another Trooper took her back into town while I was passed out.

Me and the gal were both drunk enough that we rolled with the punches. Not really hurt too bad, all things considered. But I was sure sore for a long time. My buddy never spoke to me again. The bike was totalled. Lost my gal too. She had some big ol' brothers that probably still want to whup my ass over the deal, and it happened back in '58. But all that don't bother me none. What still bothers me is that the gal blamed it all on me, and the Trooper gave me a ticket.
Now this Trooper had to try real hard to figure out somethin' to give me a ticket for. So you know what he done? When I flew off the handle bars I landed a fair distance from the bike. So far in fact, that the Trooper gave me a ticket for leavin' the scene of an accident!

Sure was a lot of fun, but I never did nothin' like that again. Havin' that much fun can be awful hard on a man.

The Story Teller

I have had the pleasure of knowing some good story tellers. The following short story was told to me by a man I worked with for years. 'Clyde' was originally from West Virginia, and this is but one of the many stories he told. He was not what I'd call an 'educated' man, but his command of language and imagery bordered on the surreal. I hope my retelling does the story justice:

Yeah, the weather of late has been mighty hot for sure. Not as hot as a few years ago though. I had me two young bird dogs. Fine dogs they were, but pretty green. So I figured I'd best take 'em out and work 'em afore hunting season got here.

So I piled 'em into my truck, 'Ol' Blue'. Now Ol' Blue's pretty rusted up, but it gets me where I want to go. Them dogs sure liked to go for a ride. They'd get in the back of the truck and wait for hours for me to give 'em a ride, so it weren't no trouble getting them excited about it. I drove out to a spot I know that's full of birds. Pheasant mostly.

I took a gun along too. Not to shoot no birds out of season, mind you. I just wanted to get them young dogs used to hearing a gun go off. So we're walking along, and the birds start a sniffin' the ground. Pretty soon they went off into some tall grass just before some woods near the creek. Sure enough, them dog's noses steered them right. They scared up a pheasant pretty as you please. I popped off a couple of rounds, and 'bout scared hell out of both of 'em. Every time the dogs scared up a bird, I'd shoot. With every shot, them dogs flinched a little less. Man, I was sure they was going to be some fine bird dogs!

Now it was mighty hot that day, and them dogs tongues were hangin' out every which way, slobberin' and pantin' like an old steam engine. I was sweatin' like a race horse all lathered up myself, so I figured it was time to go home. Them dogs did good their first day out.

I started walkin' back to the truck, along the edge of a cornfield. All of a sudden, I heard what sounded like somebody shootin' a gun in the distance. Man, I thought some farmer took offense at me on his property, and I got a little nervous when the sound came closer. I looked around, couldn't see nobody. I looked into the cornfield, and saw white stuff shootin' up into the air. By golly, we was right near a field of popcorn! It was so damned hot, the corn started poppin' right off the cob!

Now my two young dogs started lookin' around, and when they seen all that white popcorn start coverin' the ground, they thought it was snow, and laid down and froze to death before I could get 'em back to the truck! Damn shame too. Them was some mighty fine dogs. 'Bout broke my heart.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Toothpaste Dilemma

The ridiculous number of different kinds of toothpaste can be unnecessarily overwhelming. Consider the following options: White, colored, striped, paste or gel, additives in the paste that run the gamut from fluoride to plaque control with all kinds of combinations, paste for tooth whitening, for sensitive teeth, for smokers, paste with mouthwash, in tubes, in squeeze bottles, a plethora of different flavors, with baking soda, paste that turns any gunk you've missed after brushing the color of blue so you can brush again. Just a partial list, to be sure.

What is the objective of brushing your teeth? To prevent cavities, or show your individuality? To have healthy gums, or sand-blast the enamel off your teeth? And rest assured, each different variety is BETTER than any of the others, with NEW AND IMPROVED varieties hitting the shelves ad nauseum.

To walk into a store and visit the tooth care aisle is a study in the remarkable redundancy of the American marketing system. Inundate the customer with choices. Lure the eye with brightly colored packaging that SCREAMS about the efficacy of the tooth care product. Toothpastes to fit any decor, any mood, any lifestyle, any personality. Now THAT'S what America is all about!

I have watched people in the toothpaste aisle. A boring activity perhaps, but fascinating in what it reveals. There are people who spend more time choosing a toothpaste, than choosing a candidate for President Of The United States. So, after these folks make the all-important choice of an oral scrubbing agent, woe to them if they also need a TOOTHBRUSH!

The same marketing strategy is used. The choices? All colors of the rainbow, flat handles, round handles, ergonomically designed comfort handles, straight handles, curved handles, bristles from extra soft and mushy to extra firm and rigid, flat bristles, rounded bristles, combinations of bristles, handles with little rubber erasers on the end for gum 'stimulation' (gum stimulation?), handles with built-in floss dispensers, electric brushes with rotating bristles, electric brushes that vibrate so much they could double for a marital aid, and a tooth brush that is not a brush at all that uses water. And floss and mouthwash? Don't even get me started on those!

We are bombarded with choices for oral care the same we are bombarded for most other consumer goods. From baked beans to condoms, consumers are offered choice after choice after choice, with the cost of those choices equal to their newness or uniqueness. Plain old toothpaste (when you can find it) costs a hell of a lot less than the fancy stuff.

One of the best tooth cleansers is baking soda. It works great and it's cheap. But it tastes nasty. So I strike the middle ground. I buy plain old toothpaste at $0. 98 a tube. It's white, doesn't taste too bad, and most likely works as well as the fancy stuff.

I still get snookered on the marketing ploys, but not as much as I used to, and by golly not on toothpaste. It has become so ingrained in all of us, it is hard behavior to stop. But the older I get, the less I care about some things. Designer toothpaste is on that list for sure.

So just say 'NO MORE!' American Consumer! Defeat the marketers of designer toothpaste! It is a small step, but do it! Today, toothpaste! Tomorrow, the world!

Site Meter