Funny Story for ya...
Posted 01.18.2005 by Terry in Buckhead
I live today in Buckhead, Georgia, but I grew up in Northern Minnesota. You can imagine the culture shock when I moved here. You can play tennis year 'round here! Up north, for six months out of the year, you're stuck with winter sports. Like ice fishing.
I know what you're thinking: ice fishing? What in the hell is that?
I'll tell you. Ice fishing is taking a snowmobile out on a frozen-over lake early in the morning, entering a portable hut heated by kerosene heaters, and sitting around on your fat ass all day looking at a one-foot-round hole in the ice. When not staring at the hole you participate in other exhilarating activities: telling stories, listening to hockey games on the radio, eating Vienna Sausages out of the can, dropping the line into the hole, waiting, eating more sausages, drinking Mountain Dew (I don't drink alcohol, but some of the guys drink beer all day), waiting some more, staring at the hole, and eating some more sausages out of the can.
At this point you've probably made a few legitimate assumptions about my intelligence level, my social skills, and my background, and have surmised that I live in a doublewide and am married to a woman named Dixie. But I assure you: ice fishing is not just for morons and losers. I know quite a few lawyers and bankers who love ice fishing. But then again, most lawyers and bankers are morons and losers anyway. But I digress.
When you ice fish, you stay in a hotel on the banks of the lake, get up at five a.m., eat breakfast, and head out to the lake. You do NOT under ANY circumstances go back to the hotel until it is DARK. That's twelve hours out on the ice. Don't ask me who wrote the rules, but they are followed religiously. It's a guy thing. An unwritten code. Anybody who goes back to the hotel, says they are cold, complains, talks about business or politics, or who doesn't eat sausages all day is marked as a weenie man, and is ostracized from our little community. I didn't make the rules; but, being a manly man, I follow them.
This sad little tale involves a three-day ice fishing expedition with four of my friends back in the nineties. We got to the hotel on a Thursday night. While checking in, I had an instant connection with the extremely lovely deskperson whom I will call Sally. She was dressed in a navy blue vest with a white button-down shirt, and she was adorable. She asked if I was there to ice fish and I told her we'd be there for a few days. She said she hoped I caught plenty of fish. I asked her what she did besides work, and it turned out she was a nursing student. To say that I was attracted to her was an understatement. As an added bonus, she even professed to like ice fishing; and as I went up to my room it was pretty obvious to both of us that we would get together to talk sometime soon. I told her exactly where our hut was on the lake, and told her to stop anytime to say hello. I'd be out there all day, every day.
The next morning arrived. We set out at six (breaking one of the rules already) loaded down with Vienna sausages, fishing gear, Mountain Dew for me, and beer for the rest of the guys. About fifteen minutes of snowmobiling later, we arrived and entered our rented fish hut. The hole was a bit frozen over, but we hammered it open and began fishing. Joe caught the first fish. He also took the first dump.
Pooping on the ice isn't a problem, even though there's nowhere to poop. You just exit the hut, drop your pants, and crap. When you've got five guys, Vienna sausages, beer, and Mountain Dew, the crap heap grows by leaps and bounds. The heap is quite unsightly, although the smell problem is usually eliminated because the logs freeze within a few minutes.
As you buzz around on the frozen lake, you'll see that each hut has its own crap pile. Nobody worries about crapping out on the lake. In fact, it is considered fine form to shout out a salute if you pass a hut where a guy is pooping.
The first two days we caught a lot of fish, and ate a lot of Vienna sausages. My only complaint was that Sally wasn't at the front desk for the next two nights. I was positive that there had been a very nice warm feeling between us that I wanted to pursue. I wanted to take her out to dinner, but she was nowhere to be found.
Our third day on the ice was a major boon for the crap pile. Guess what we ate at the restaurant the evening before? Polish sausage and sauerkraut. After all the Vienna sausages, it was almost disgusting, but there was no other choice. The restaurant was a bed/breakfast joint -- so you ate what they brought out. The sauerkraut smelled like the breath of a pregnant owl just after it swallows the diseased appendix of a sea otter.
See the above rules. Nobody complains, and that applies equally to the lake and the accommodations. End of story.
On the ice, the crap pile was expanding. Some unsuspecting bottom feeder was gonna have an early February feast if it got any bigger. It was our last day on the ice, so we didn't worry about it.
The fish hut smelled like rotting seared sauerkraut all day as the guys farted out the nasty methane. I had to drop my trousers in the late morning, and I exited the fish hut with the well wishes of my hut mates. I could not believe the size, look, and smell of the pile. My pants were in the fully reclined position and as the sauerkraut was blasting its path out of my blowhole a snowmobile's drone met my ears. No big deal. I obviously couldn't interrupt the flow, so I didn't even turn around to see who it was. Usually the snowmobiles pass on by and keep on trucking, but this one was approaching.
Rising to a full standing position, I turned around, pulling up my boxers, wondering whom it was. Maybe the folks in this little hamlet in lake country decided to come say hello and see how them fish are hooking.
I wanted to bury my head in the crap pile. Apparently I had made quite an impression on the lovely young lady, and she didn't want me to leave town without a proper send off. Cutting the engine, she sat there staring at me, and me at her. No one dared to speak first. I just didn't think that "How's it going" would come off all that casually. Hours passed, her on the Snowcat and me standing beside the pile. Seemed like hours, anyways.
In any situation of a social nature there is always SOMETHING to say. If you fart, you can at least say, "Excuse me, I'm sick." Nothing that appropriate for this situation was coming to mind.
At last, I was able to say something. "I enjoyed meeting you the other night."
She smiled. "The feeling was mutual." I relaxed.
On the ride home, I tried to recreate the scenario and find something in retrospect amusing and tension-breaking to defuse the situation. All that came to mind was, "That sauerkraut was mighty tasty, but I should have kept to the sausage."
I am sure you've never been utterly humiliated like I was on the ice that cold February day; but if you have, then you know that you might as well go on living your life, hoping that you live to tell the story to someone, some day, to at least get a few laughs out of the disaster.
Today is that day.