Going wild requires a lot of gear, especially if you haven’t done this sort of thing before. A couple of days ago, I visited a sports store in Silverdale to check out how much I could pull on a compound bow. I’m interested in bow hunting, partly because I think it is stealthy, and partly because I have a hard time with noise. Menieres disease (an inner ear disorder) claimed much of the hearing in my left ear. I’m concerned about hearing preservation. What little I have is dear to me. Bows are quiet. I like quiet.
I fumbled the conversation with this grumpy old dude at the archery counter. “What you after?” he asked.
“Not sure, something easy to handle, mid-range price. I’m a beginner.”
“No, young lady. What you wanna kill?” He crossed arms over a barrel chest and rolled his eyes. His body language spoke volumes, saying something to the effect about me being a dumb broad with no business buying a bow and traipsing off hunting like it’s a trip to the mall. The salesman’s scorn felt oddly familiar, comfortable, and even charming. I couldn’t help but smile. I thought about my father's crabby ways. I could almost hear the salesman say, “Goddammit, Chris. You’ve got to know these things, got to do your damn homework. You're not buying a goddam handbag…” I wanted to hug the man.
I leaned over the counter, like girls do when they really need something. “Well, that’s just it. I need your expert advice?” I watched him melt like sugar cubes in my tea cup. He went all sticky and gooey on me, reaching across the counter to feel my bicep before selecting a bow for me to pull. I could have bet a hundred bucks on what bow he would hand me to demo.
“Try this one, doll.” He handed me a youth/ladies bow by Bear, camoflauged in a horrific woodland pink. The little pink wonder was dialed back to a 30 lb. pull. I didn’t expect it to be so easy. The old man cooed, “Say, you’re a strong one.”
I pulled a few more bows and found 50 pounds was about the comfortable max. I shot a few arrows in a practice alley behind the counter. I wasn’t very good, but it was fun. Jim bow hunts, so I’m hoping he’ll teach me a few things. I also hope he tells Santa to slide one under the tree for me. Santa knows that pink would not be my first choice or second or third.
Today was all about fishing. I went back to the sports store and this time talked to a different grumpy old man. He asked the standard question, “what you after?”
And this time I knew how to answer. “I’m hoping to take a few trout out of Kitsap Lake.”
“Oh, fine, fine. You might try Island Lake and Spencer too. Nice trout in those two lakes. You fish much?”
“Couple times, but I don’t really know how.”
“Well, how bout we pick out a rod.” He led me to a long line of Ugly Sticks, cheaper rod and reel combos meant for the beginner. And of course the first pole he grabbed was breast-cancer-ribbon pink. “Now, this here is a fine lady rod.”
“Ah, do you have it in red, or blue, or maybe green?”
“Pink ones catch bigger fish, you know.”
“Is that right?”
“Oh yes. True, true.” He grabbed another less-pinkish pole. “You gonna like this beauty a whole lot.” He handed me a black rod with hot pink accents and stepped back to await approval.
Screw it. I didn’t want pink gear, but he looked mighty pleased with himself, and I was hoping to get out on the lake soon. “Love it. I’ll take it.”
“Great, now how about pink PowerBait to match. The stuff sparkles.”
I hit Kitsap Lake with coordinated rod and glittery bait. It took me about an hour to figure out the whole hook, leader, and weight set-up. I spent another frustrated hour fighting a reel that refused to reel in, only to figure out I failed to string the line properly.
Dusk settled in. Ducks skidded across the glassy lake in great swooshes. Quacks rang like laughter as I cast the first glittery puff of pink bait.
No fish for supper tonight, just more vegan borscht. Bummer.