Notes from the Home XII


  Went fishing Friday.  I thought I was going fishing on Memorial Day, but being a doofus of some repute, I was mistaken. One mistake, or even a slew of mistakes, does not make a man a doofus. To err, after all, is human. But, I was in possession of all the salient facts, and all I had to do was think about them for a moment, and I would have known that Monday wasn’t the day of the fishing trip.
   You see, I knew the fishing trip was scheduled for June 1, and I knew Monday was Memorial Day. Somewhere along the way, I became convinced that Monday was June 1. That is a run-of-the-mill mistake, one any human, even one with an astronomical IQ, might make. But I also knew that Monday was Memorial Day, and that Memorial Day is always the last Monday of May. A lesser nitwit armed with those facts would have said, “Something is wrong here. I better take a look.” As a world-class nitwit, however, I overlooked all that until the day before Memorial Day. Someone asked me Sunday evening if I was going fishing on Friday. Yes, God worked in mysterious ways to keep me from being memorably embarrassed on Memorial Day. I’m sure the woman at the desk Monday morning would have found it impossible to stifle a guffaw or two, if, after cooling my heels in the lobby for an hour, I’d asked her if the fishing trip had left without me.
   As things turned out, I was spared embarrassment on Monday only to be embarrassed on Friday. The day started without incident. Everyone was in the lobby at the appointed time, and we all got on the bus and headed to Florance Marina, a state park on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee River. The sky was overcast and the air comfortably cool. I had no difficulty getting the wheelchair onto the pier. And once there, despite the narrow walkway, I managed to maneuver it without ever once coming close to taking an unexpected dip.
   The ranger gave each of the non-fishermen in the group a bamboo pool, and Dennis, the bus driver, distributed worms. The river, the woods, the egrets, the cranes, and the hawks soaring high above, soon had me lost in reverie. Then someone yelled, “Where’s Helga?” I turned to look, and in the process the reverie turned to embarrassment when I knocked my quad cane off the pier. The ranger was nearby and tried to help, but the cane slipped beneath the surface before she could grab it. On the way to the bottom, however, the cane got tangled in my line, and with a little help from the ranger, I reeled it in.
   Then I went back to reverie. But after just a few minutes, it was disturbed by a tug on my line. It was a fish, not much of a fish, maybe five inches long. The ranger said it was a brim. I began thinking of myself as the brim reaper. The other brim must thought that too, because they and all their aquatic friends avoided my line the rest of the day. Several other residents managed to land a brim or two, and one fellow hauled in four. They were all about the same size as mine, but when Penelope called Dennis to ask who caught the largest fish, Dennis said I did. He must have been thinking of the cane. In any event, when I got back, I received a mounted wooden fish about ten times larger than the one I caught.
  
   Friday night I went out to eat. Every couple months, Penelope arranges a Mystery Dinner. The mystery is which restaurant did Penelope make the arrangements with. I didn’t know anything about this until three weeks ago, when Katherine, who is also in a wheelchair, stopped me in the hall. She said she had signed up for the Mystery Dinner but wasn’t going to be able to go and wondered if I wanted to go in her place. I told her I would, and she said she’d let Penelope know. She worried if she erased her name from the sign-up list and I put mine in its place, some of the other wheelchair folks would suspect foul play. Not wishing to get in the middle of a catfight, I kept my mouth shut and my name off the list. Then Friday afternoon, Penelope asked me if I was still planning on going.
   The mystery restaurant was The Loft. It’s downtown, near a lot of the Columbus State facilities, and most of the people in the place where younger than Russ and Bethany. But the food was great – I had grilled salmon – and so was the Guinness.
   After we’d stuffed ourselves and were waiting for Penelope to bring the bus around, a woman in our group came over and asked me for my name. I told her, and then she said, “My name is Ellen, and this is Richard. We’re living in sin.” I’m not sure if she’s telling the truth. On the bus ride back, when Richard said “my wife,” he was clearly referring to Ellen. But when Ellen said “my husband,” she was just as clearly referring to her first husband, who died several years ago. C’est la vie; they’re very nice people, and, let’s face it, sin isn’t such a bad place to live.
  
   The highlight of the week, however, was Thursday, when I Skyped to writing class. I spent last weekend getting some stuff together for a book proposal, which included a number of Russell’s drawings. I scanned the drawings, and e-mailed them to Suzanne, along with the cover letter I’d written. She wrote back with a list of things to improve my letter, and nothing but high praise for Russ’ drawings. And Thursday, Suzanne showed a couple of the drawing to the class.
   Is there anything sweeter than listening to other people praise the work of your kids?

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