Below is an excerpt from a book I’m writing called Adventures in Fishing (for Men). The book is a satirical allegory about Christian attempts at evangelism. He who has ears to hear…
To be a true fisherman, there are certain things you have to do which really don’t make you a better fisherman, but prove to everyone else that you are the real deal, the genuine article. Apparently, there are a lot of false fishermen out there, and the primary thing that sets true fishermen apart from false fishermen are fishing rituals. False fishermen don’t practice these rituals, which prove they were never really fishermen in the first place.
I honestly don’t understand the significance of these rituals, but I was told that true fishermen have been doing them for thousands of years, and so if I wanted to be a true fisherman, I would have to do them too.
The first was net washing. I didn’t own a fishing net, so I had to go buy one. I wasn’t even sure how to fish with a net, but that didn’t matter. Great fishermen of the past used these fishing nets, and they would have to clean their nets, so to identify myself with the great fishermen of the past, I began a daily practice of cleaning my fishing net.
And I was determined to do a better job at it than others. I watched one guy clean his net, and he just sprinkled a little water on it and called it good. It didn’t take him more than a minute. I really doubt that the fishermen of the past could clean their net in under a minute, and I don’t think that sprinkling a net qualifies as washing.
So I make sure to take more time on my daily net cleaning, and really get the net fully into the water.
Here is how I wash my net: First, I fill the tub with nice, hot water, and use some of my wife’s bubble bath. Then I carefully immerse the net into the water, and massage it for about fifteen minutes. Next, I drain the water and rinse the net with some hair conditioner. Afterwards, I blow dry the net and hang it back up on the wall so it is ready for the next day. All in all, this daily ritual takes about 45 minutes. This might seem like quite a commitment, but properly washing your net is one of the first steps in becoming a fisherman. I also like to keep a log of how many net immersions I complete. Why? Because truly successful fishermen have completed thousands of immersions, and I wanted evidence of all the net immersions I have done.
The second ritual that fisherman must participate in is actually made of three elements: Successful fishermen must eat, sleep, and breathe fishing. This is to prove that fishing is more than just claiming to be a fisherman; it is a way of life. Some fishermen are fisherman in name only, but true fishermen are fully committed to the way of fishing, and faithfully follow it for their entire lives. To prove this, they must eat, sleep, and breathe fishing.
To “eat fishing,” I began to eat those little cheesy fish crackers. I love how each fish cracker has a little smile. This reminded me that being a fisherman was a life full of joy and contentment. I wasn’t sure how many of these crackers I should eat, or how often, so for the first month, I ate one box per day. But I began to sick of eating so many crackers, so I backed off to one box per week, then one box per month, and finally, I decided that all I need to do is eat one cracker per month. To make it easy to remember, I started eating this cracker on the first Sunday of each month.
Somewhere during that first month when I was eating a box a day, I realized that fish couldn’t live without water, and so the crackers by themselves were insufficient. Besides, the crackers made me really thirsty. So I started to drink water with my crackers. At first, I just tap water from my kitchen. Then I realized that fish don’t actually live in tap water. They live in oceans, streams, lakes, and rivers. But I wasn’t about to go down to any lakes or rivers to get water. Besides, if I drank that water, I might get sick. So I started to drink some water from my swimming pool. It still had some dead fish floating around in it, and water tasted pretty bad, but these are the sacrifices one must make if they are going to be a true fisherman. At first, I drank as much water as I wanted to quench my thirst, but later, when I started eating only one fish cracker a month, I felt that all I needed to do was drink about a teaspoon of water.
To “sleep fishing,” I bought bed sheets with fish on them. My wife said they looked like little boy sheets, but I told her that we were the only ones who saw them and it was important for me to take every step necessary to become a fully devoted fisherman, even if some of the steps seemed a little silly.
Learning to “breathe fishing” was the hardest thing of all. Fish have gills, and I am pretty sure that if I tried to breathe underwater, I would drown. So until I figure out a way to breathe underwater like a fish, I decided that the best I could do was make sure that the air I breathe is fish scents. I started by leaving open cans of worms lying around the house, but my wife complained too much about the rotting worms all over the place, so the worms had to go. In their place I put some dead fish I pulled out of my swimming pool. But after a day or two, the house started stinking so bad my wife threatened to move out. She doesn’t understand the great sacrifice of being a fisherman.
Finally, I ended up leaving open cans of tuna lying around. My wife complained about this too, but I told her that I was making a tuna-fish sandwich, but had been interrupted in the process. She threw the cans out.
Then one day I was at the local pharmacy getting some Fisherman’s Friend cough drops, and I saw a bottle of pills called “Cod Liver Oil.” Each pill is a little gel-cap filled with cod liver oil. I bought a bottle and now every morning when I wake up, I take a cod liver oil gel-cap, poke a little hole in it with a needle, and then squirt it up my nose. It smells terrible, and I hack and gag for about twenty minutes afterward, but the smell of fish almost never leaves my nose. I am able to breathe fishing all day long. I know this sounds extreme, and probably only a few of us fisherman actually do it, but that just goes to show you how narrow is the gate that leads to the life of fishing. These are the things one must do to prove they are a fully-devoted follower of the way of fishing.