Bait

Bait: (n) food used to entice fish or other animals as prey.Dictionary B

My dad was a fisherman.

Some folks would say my dad fancied himself to be a fisherman.

My mother might have concluded that my dad went fishing to get away from home.

Whatever the case, he had an adequate array of rods, reels, hooks, sinkers, bait and tackle to be considered worthy of the aspiration.

My dad had five sons, and he quickly assessed which ones he thought were better suited for hunting and fishing.

Being the fourth son, for some reason or another, he decided that I was not bent in the direction of the standard woodsman. I don’t know how he came to this conclusion. I was actually the only one of my brothers involved in sports, and certainly had an aptitude for floating in a boat and throwing a line in the water to snag a hapless aquatic creature.

I only went fishing with him a few times–and because I wasn’t given many opportunities, on the paltry occasions when I was with him, I acted a little squeamish.

Especially when it came to the bait. We used two kinds: night crawlers and minnows.

Night crawlers are worms and minnows are little, tiny fish-like creatures with one big eye on them. (Or I think it’s one.)

I was not real thrilled about the idea of grabbing a worm from the peat moss and putting it on my hook. It wasn’t because I was sensitive about killing the crawler, it just felt funny.

My dad thought this was hilarious.

I also did not know where to place my hook into the minnow to make it the most appealing to the creatures we were trying to trick. I did catch on, but not before my father had a chance to stereotype me as a “weinie-woman.”

So much to my chagrin, I have not fished as much during my life as I would like to, because of those run-ins with the bait.

I think it is completely permissible to be a little bit nervous around worms and minnows…until you finally get the feel for it.

 

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Acrobat

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAcrobat: (n.) an entertainer who performs gymnastic feats.

I had a flash-back.

When I was in high school, so many bronze ages ago, it was mandatory to take two years of physical education. I put them off until my junior and senior years. (I don’t know if I was hoping for a lazy state legislature to repeal the law, or perhaps that the gymnasium would collapse from the onslaught of a Midwest tornado, but I delayed.)

I was a big, fat boy. I liked to play sports until it became obvious that it was exercise. Does that make sense? In other words, if you wanted to go out and throw the football around or shoot some hoops, I was there. But if you were gonna line up and purposefully use your muscles in a way that produced exertion and perspiration with no immediate pay-off of sinking a basket or tackling a friend, well … I was rather non-enthusiatic.

ESPECIALLY during the six-week period of physical education when we did gymnastics.

I was no acrobat. I was the kind of person that if I slipped and fell down a hill, it actually appeared that there was a person falling uncontrollably down the hill, as opposed to gracefully tumbling and landing on my feet. Any motion that I took towards the ground ended up in a splat instead of a forward roll.

I hated it.

I tried to get out of it by insisting that my parents were too poor to afford my gym clothes. I even tricked my mom into giving me a note to give to the instructor, telling him that I was physically unable to perform the feats.

It was unsuccessful. Amazingly, these small-town educators saw through my ploys.

The most embarrassing part of it was the fact that there was no privacy. When it was time to tumble, we formed a line which ran in a perpetual circle, so that each person could come and tumble on the mat, regain his feet, and get back into line to do it again, until everybody had done at least FOUR of them.

Some guys were just great. They looked like human Slinkeys. I, on the other hand, looked like play-dough hitting the sidewalk on a very hot day. Rather than rolling, I kind of just spread out all over the mat.

So when I regained my feet, hearing the titters of my friends, I hung back in the line, hoping the teacher did not notice how many forward rolls I had accomplished before the whistle would blow for the next horror. Unfortunately, he preferred to wait until the end, leading me to believe I had pulled off my scam, making me perform my last two somersaults back-to-back, with the whole class reviewing, as if they were East German judges at the Olympics.

Honestly, as I retell this, I am not quite sure how I survived it without resorting to some sort of self-mutilation or abuse of my fellow-students.

But when I see the word acrobat, I have a mingling of great admiration and a chill that goes down my spine, remembering that torturous hour spent, for a six-week period, when my school insisted that I try to take my enormous body and  imitate a thirteen-year-old female gymnast.

Even though I could never approve and am certainly horrified when I hear about school shootings–when someone walks into his classroom and guns everybody down–honestly, I might be a little sympathetic if I found out it was a big fat kid and it was a Phys Ed class during the six weeks … of gymnastics.