by Phil G
I childhood fishing adventure gone wrong.
| It was an unusually hot summer day when Johnson Fulbright Junior AKA" June Bug" and I headed out to the banks of the French Broad River which ran near our house. I had stolen cigarettes from my parents, and we planned to smoke them once we got our hooks in the water. It was a perfect afternoon for two fourteen-year-old juvenile delinquents. Fishing, skinny dipping, smoking, and talking about everything under the sun.
I'm not sure if it was my idea or June Bug's, but one of us decided the fishing would somehow be more prosperous on the other side of the river. A plan began to emerge. First, we would tie our clothes, shoes, and all other worldly possessions into a black plastic garbage bag. I then swam to the other bank. June Bug's part of this mission was to cast a line from the fishing rod and then tie the garbage bag to the line for me to pull to the other side. It sounded like a solid plan to us at the time; however, we overestimated the strength of the fishing line and underestimated the power of the current. The line snapped almost immediately.
Now picture this, me on one bank, June bug on the other both completely naked and our clothes, shoes, cigarettes, and lunch sailing down the French Broad river never to be seen again. Add to this, picture the look on our faces which included a stupid blank stare with mouths wide open. I will admit there was profanity involved. I swam back over joining June bug, and we started home butt naked with nothing to cover us except two Zeco 202 fishing rods. This was not turning out to be the fun day we were expecting. In fact, it was at that time in our short life the worse day ever.
To get home, we had to go through several briar patches all of which took their share of our hide. After we left the woods, we were faced with a ten block walk thru our suburban neighborhood, where all our friends would be lining both sides of the streets as we waddled past holding our private parts as well as possible. Now it was bad enough that I was going to have to explain to my father that the brand new pair of shoes he had just bought the day before were at the bottom of the river. But that walk of shame through our neighborhood was more pain and humiliation than either of us could bear. We were sure that God was punishing us for stealing and smoking cigarettes. We vowed never to do either again as we sat hiding at the edge of the woods.
We considered waiting until dark but disregarded that plan knowing as soon as the sun went down our parents would have the police looking for us with bloodhounds howling, helicopters hovering overhead with searchlights beaming down. We sat contemplating our miserable luck when I noticed a house which was relatively isolated off in the distance. I thought maybe we could borrow some clothes from whoever lived there. My thinking was that it would be far better to be embarrassed at one house than to be publicly humiliated by every child in our neighborhood. We were sure that the jeers would follow us well into our adulthood. I further decided that since I was the one who came up with the idea that June Bug should be the one to go to the door and make the request. To this day I still don't understand how I was able to sell him on the Idea. In hindsight and in all fairness, a short straw should have decided who would suffer the shame.
The woman at the door was elderly. She had to be well over thirty years old. She spent the next five minutes laughing at June Bug as I hid quietly around the corner.
When she eventually regained a small degree of her composure, she generously handed June bug two pairs of her husband's checkered shorts. They were size 54 which made us look only slightly less stupid than being in our birthday suits. We wrapped ourselves in them, and each of us made a set of suspenders using fishing line. We decided that rather than travel by the roads, we would cut through our neighbor's back yards. The only luck we had that day was the fact that there was a neighborhood sandlot baseball game going on which distracted all of the neighborhood except one whose silence was bought off with the promise of candy to be paid at a later date. Neither of us received the reprimand from our parents we had been expecting when we got home. I guess it must be difficult to spank a child when you're laughing so hard.