It was the best day of my life. Just me, my boat and my copy of The Old Man and the Sea. Outside it was cold, blustery and snowing sideways. Not fit for man or beast! as W.C. Fields (and my dad a few thousand times every winter since 1967) would say. I was in a heated garage sitting in a wooden boat I had picked up at a thrift store and named Pepperoni. It had been 84 days since I last fished. Long before Lake Erie had frozen over. But in my mind it was an unseasonably warm September day and I was sailing the choppy waters of our great lake in pursuit of big fish. Perch, walleye – an angler has dreams you know!
“Permission to come aboard, o’ mighty captain?”
It was my wife! How long had she been watching? Did she see me escape the wrath of the Lake Erie Monster off the coast of Put-In-Bay? Did she see me tossing imaginary bread crumbs to ornery seagulls that had been trailing me since I left Whiskey Island? She was holding 2 GIANT FISH SANDWICHES from Rascal House, steam rising from them like lobsters in a hot tub.
“Is that dinner?” I asked, still hiding my imaginary fishing pole behind my back.
“Yes, captain. When I saw you getting into your boat 6 hours ago, I remembered it was Ash Wednesday because this is what you do every Ash Wednesday to remind me that the Rascal House Giant Fish Sandwich is back. ‘Twas just this morning you said ‘The only way to catch a giant fish is to go to Rascal House’.” I looked at her holding the Giant Rascal House Fish Sandwiches. So perfect in every way. I imagined Ernest Hemingway doing cartwheels on Euclid Avenue. Then I lowered the ladder.