Like most generally capable people, I like to think that, if I put my mind to it, I can be at least somewhat successful at most of the pastimes and occupations that people apply themselves to, with the possible exception of playing music, as I am haunted to this day by my failure to master even the simple tune of Jingle Bells on acoustic guitar. (When I say haunted I mean that remembering makes me give a non-committal shrug and a grunt of resignation and then forget all about it immediately, but haunted sounds more dramatic). Sure, my flooring may have some ugly gaps that I plan to fix someday when I'm snowed in or something, but the important thing was that the effort was made, even if the results weren't perfect.
It was in this pioneering spirit that I decided to go fishing, which – ideally – combines something I like to eat with an activity that I wholeheartedly support, the act of kinda doing something without making too much effort. "I sat in a chair and stared at the water and drank all day," sounds a little lazy and possibly slightly depressing, but "I went fishing?" That, right there, is a genuine hobby, even though, for the most part, they describe remarkably similar activities.
Given my general lack of knowledge of what fish do, besides generally exist, somewhere underwater, I wasn't expecting great things, though I thought there's always a chance I might get lucky and have something besides my own shirt get snagged on the hook. But every journey starts with a single step, right?
In fishing, that step is the cast, at least when you're stuck on shore, and before long, it became painfully obvious to my previously admiring family and myself that I really didn't know how to do it. Occasionally I got a baited hook out into an area where a fish might possibly wander. Some of those times, it was actually still attached to the line. (Apparently, despite hours of learning knots in sailing lessons, my tying things together skills have also gotten a little rusty.) To make a long story short, there was a shortage of actual fishing that day, though my children obliged to save me too much embarrassment by kindly tangling one rod after another so that I could keep myself otherwise occupied.
In my defence, I've only gone fishing about five times in my life, catching two trout the very first time, a sea cucumber the second time, and little of any value after that, unless you count innumerable bullhead and once, with the son of my parents' sailing buddies, a flounder with a bite taken out of it and some sort of sea cooties that the adults made us throw back, followed by a thorough handwashing.
Arriving home, shamed, I did what anyone in my situation would do. I arranged the rods in pile and burnt them to a crisp while drinking whisky straight from the bottle and cursing the gods from the front steps dressed only in my underwear before converting to vegetarianism. No, wait. That's what the old me would have done. (It as a standard coping procedure, without the vegetarian conversion and various other fuels for the bonfire.) The new me? I looked up how to cast properly on the Internet. With this knowledge, I can boldly predict that next time I go fishing, the hook will almost certainly end up somewhere in the vicinity of where a fish may once have been. A little more research and it will still be attached to my fishing line when it does.