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A Regret

I’ve been thinking about taking up fishing lately.  The last time I went fishing was with my grandfather.  I was never into it because I was a teenager and teenagers are rude.  A kid of the 80s, my biggest concerns were whether to get the Run DMC album or go for the latest Michael Jackson release.  It says a lot about my age that Michael Jackson was still cool when I was in middle and high school.

One of my biggest regrets is that I took my grandfather’s fishing trips as little more than necessary inconveniences.  While he fished I stayed in his car and listened to the radio.

Now my grandfather is dead and I miss him more than ever.

Since I’ve gotten older, my fishing trips have consisted of whatever is on sale at the Harris Teeter seafood section.  I ‘ve made way too many bad mistakes in my life, and I think fishing has become a way for me to dig back into the past and maybe find some of the innocence I possessed as a child . . . at least before I grew too old and too cool to be burdened by Papaw’s fishing-tales of life in the Appalachians when he was a boy.

And now here I am.  So far from grace and youth that everything I took for granted is dirt and dust.  I cannot bring my grandfather back, no matter how well I manage to cast my line into the water.  It just won’t reach that far.

Nothing this side of the grave ever will.

Living here in Wilmington, North Carolina, something in the salty ocean air has grabbed ahold of me.  I live four miles from the water’s edge.  And that salt . . . that clean, refreshing salt makes me feel pleasantly unsettled.  Salt has always been a key alchemical element, and there is alchemy and magic in the crash of the Atlantic’s waters on the nearby shore.  I can hear its mysterious voice beckoning—a sub-vocal beckoning to something paradoxically inchoate yet antediluvian.

A need to find some kind of communion linking me to a past that I once shrugged my shoulders to and now mourn because it is beyond my grasp.

I watched the sun rise over the sea this morning.  Its first touch on the horizon fired the low clouds on the horizon a brilliant bright red, where dawn gave birth to the earth that is newborn every morning.  Behind me the moon was at its full and setting as clouds passing in front of it broke and were haloed in its silvery sheen.  Both were at opposite poles, and rarely have I had a chance to see something so beautiful and poignant.


I will look forward to getting out onto the pier, but I know it will be a lonely pilgrimage.  Maybe I will catch a bit of those moments I let slip through my fingers so long ago.  Yet time only allows us a finite amount of moments with those we love.  I grieve over the loss of mine.

Starting a new fitness routine

This month I decided the money I was spending on Cheetos could be better spent in more productive areas.  I like to eat so a lot of my money went to Frito-Lay.

A friend of mine told me he could help me invest my money.  He never seemed to leave his parents’ basement, and whenever I came over and he said he was “working,” the work always seemed to be done with a laptop in his boxers and a t-shirt.


Turns out it didn’t work out so well.  I found that out at a drive-through the other day after my friend’s ponzi scheme fell apart and he had to get a real job.  Taco Bell doesn’t pay what he claimed his “Nigerian business model” earned him, so now he has less money than I do.  I hear that with all the people mad at him, he might soon be trading his Taco Bell job for one in a country where they still make burritos but don’t have an extradition treaty with the US.


Maybe I’m kidding about all of that, but I did have a friend once who had a Fonzi scheme.  Every Halloween he dressed up like Henry Winkler and got so drunk on hard cider that he thought I was Chachi.  Those were what he called the “happy days” before Alcoholics Anonymous and a bitter divorce brought him back to reality.  Now his life is about as exciting as Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham’s.


What I really did with my money did not involve a Nigerian business scheme.  You can’t make something from nothing.  Well, not unless you’re a super dense point of quantum singularity, and I’d never want to be one of those.  For one, they’re not only infinitely dense, but they’re also infinitely hot.  I weigh enough already to know that density stopped equating to fun after I reached 40 pounds over my ideal weight.  Then it was all about comfort eating.

Stupid Cheetos.

cheeto cheetah

Weight also becomes problematic once you pass age 35.  Especially after a few broken bones have gone arthritic.  The only time I’ve heard of physical super density helping someone was when a criminal was once shot by the police numerous times and survived because his body fat prevented the bullets from hitting any organs.  He was only slightly lighter than a beluga whale.  He’s now in prison and beluga whales live in places I’d never want to live.  I don’t like to get too hot, but it’s way too cold in the parts of the ocean where belugas live, and everyone knows sweaters stop making you warm and start making you miserable once they’re soaked.

That’s why I’ll never invest in a beluga sweater fashion line.

I’d never want to be a point of singularity for another reason.  Once one goes off, clean-up is a nightmare.  The last time that happened was 13.82 billion years ago and that’s when the universe was created.

Both the Spitzer and Hubble telescopes have revealed just how dusty the universe is.  And gassy.  There is an enormous line of gas reaching all the way from the Magellanic Clouds to our galaxy.  When NASA estimated the amount of gas in the Magellanic stream, scientists said it was only slightly less than the amount of gas put out by my father during taco nights when I was a boy.


That’s only counting three galaxies.  When singularities go off they’re a lot like octomom, but worse.  The big bang gave birth to lots of galaxies.

Like maybe 10 or 12 or something like that.

Seriously, I honestly do like to eat, and have perhaps put away more then I ought to have from time to time.  Now I need to lose a good 80 pounds.  There might actually be a Nigerian scheme for that, but I’m pretty sure it might involve a tapeworm or some other tropical parasite.


I don’t like tapeworms.  They may help you lose weight.  But that’s not all.  They look a lot like something from a Ridley Scott movie.  His movies can sometimes be disturbing, but at least the aliens in them are all made of latex.  I don’t know what a tapeworm is made of, but I assume that 9 out of 10 special affects artists don’t recommend using them on any movie set ever made.  Not because they’re not made of latex—which they aren’t—but because they are a lot like real-life Ridley Scott aliens.  And while I’ve never heard of one jumping out of someone’s chest, I’ve seen a picture of one hanging out of some dude’s nose.

I think he was probably Nigerian.  Or maybe that’s Nevadan.  I get the two confused sometimes.  Nevada is way out west, and if you travel west long enough you might end up in Nigeria provided you take a few southerly detours.

As I was saying though, I decided to do something useful with my money and hired a personal trainer.  She’s really awesome.  I think she must have been an S & M madam in another life because ever since I met her there hasn’t been a part of my body that hasn’t hurt.  When I first met her she told me she enjoyed helping people get fit, and every damn time I lift my arms I throw one, so she’s hit the mark with me.

Her name is Alissa.  I think the name’s actually an ancient Persian word for agony.

Other people at the Wilmington Athletic Center told me she was tough, but I didn’t believe them until I arrived at the gym and passed two guys crying as they left the building.  When I asked the lady at the front desk what was going on, she told me they were the two clients Alissa worked with before my appointment.  I said they must have been really out of shape.  That’s when the receptionist told me they actually worked at the nearby marine base.

In special forces.

I knew I was in trouble when I mentioned it to Alissa and she called the guys pansies.

We’ve started in the water first.  I thought we were going to go to the pool, but Alissa grabbed her kayak at took me out to the Cape Fear.  She climbed in her boat and told me to start swimming.  I thought this was unorthodox.  But unorthodox people are often the most effective at what they do.  My Uncle Ben discovered a new way to perform finger amputations.  He still doesn’t talk about what happened at the saw mill, but the doctors were really impressed.

Once we got downriver a bit I heard splashing along the side of the bank.  When I asked her what they came from, she said, “Oh, that’s probably just the alligators.”

I exclaimed, “What the hell do you have me swimming in a river with alligators for?”

She said, “Incentive.”


I have to admit it worked, though.

When we first talked I told Alissa I didn’t think I’d be able to swim 20 yards and she got 800 meters out of me in record time.

Next week she told me we’ll start with some easy weight lifting.  As I got in my car I think I heard her tell me to meet her at the rock quarry Monday morning.  And to bring chains.

Oh Geez.

Honestly, Alissa really is worth the money I’m spending.  Getting in shape isn’t for sissies, but having a trainer makes the job 10 times easier.  I’d recommend her to anyone.  Just remember that when you hear the alligators slithering into the water, Alissa’s a pro, and it all comes from a place of love.  Besides, I should look on the bright side.

It could involve tapeworms.

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