This past Fourth of July was a memorable one. For starters, I’d been battling a waxing gibbous moon for days — and it was only getting brighter. But on this night, heavy cloud cover was forecast over Block Island. I couldn’t wait to hit the beach to celebrate my independence from that bite-killing light.
Now, if you watched the old Hee-Haw TV show, you probably know the “Gloom, Despair, and Agony Oh Me” sketch — in particular the line, “if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” I was thinking of this as I realized a most cruel twist of fate: there was a large group of people partying right where I wanted to fish. Three large families. Bonfire, music, fireworks shooting over the ocean, general drunken loudness, and specifically cackling moms after one too many hard lemonades. Sure, it’s fun, but dammit, why at this mark on the only night I’ve got significant overcast and the tide is perfect?
Since the three families weren’t practicing anything that remotely resembled social distancing, I decided to head to what I thought was a safe distance from the mayhem. Despite the racket and light show, the bite was on. I began taking bass after bass. Little did I know the real hijinks were about to start.
It began rather innocently. One of the kids noticed me amid the glowing spray of a fountain firework. She must have been around eight. Little Miss Precocious addressed me from the shore.
Who is that?
(Silence from me)
Who’s standing in the water!?!
(Maybe if I ignore her, she’ll go away.)
What are you doing there?!?
(Aren’t the parents seeing or hearing this? I’d never have let my kids wander down the beach at night unsupervised like that. Oh, wait. Right. They’re all drunk.)
Why won’t you answer me!!!!!?!
OK. I’ll play.
I turned around and faced her. “Well, hello there! I’m Mr. Culton. Who are you?
(Long pause while she processes, not being sure what to make of this new data…)
(still sounding unsure) …Samantha…
And with that, she turned and scampered back to the festivities.
That alone would make for a good enough story. But wait. Here comes the best part. A few minutes later, the dads decided that what with the receding tide (and their increasing intoxication) they should drag their dinghies a little further down to the water line. Except one of them forgot a cardinal rule of boating: always make sure your anchor line is secure. Five minutes later, I’m aware of a large oval shape drifting past me. About the same time, drunk dad recognizes his mistake, and runs helter skelter into the surf to retrieve his watercraft. After a sudden moment of realization, he delivers the punch line:
“Oh, (expletive)! I forgot my phone’s in my pocket!
The moral of the story is that drunks and boating just don’t mix. And, after all, what is a man profited if he should gain some beach but lose his phone?
A near-legal 4th of July bass. I think he looks a little surprised, which I get, because I didn’t expect the action to be as good as it was. As tradition dictates, my Fourth of July fly is the Olive Fireworm Big Eelie Variant.