I have an addiction other then ambulances. It's bad. I can't stop and might need professional help. It keeps me awake at night. I start getting sweats when the weather starts to warm up. I forget to do my chores and my wife gets irritated at my total lack of concentration and attention as soon as the water gets over 55 degrees. My other, other true love is bass fishing. I can't get enough. I spend every spare day doing it in the summer and and every other day dreaming about it. And if you are sitting there thinking I am nuts, then you have never tied onto an 8lb bass on 4lb test line. It's easily the most exciting thing on the planet. I don't normally eat them, I like to throw them back to get bigger. I have several secret bass fishing holes that I wont tell anyone but my kids where they are. I have cultivated the same love in my children. My oldest daughter, who is 13, out fishes me somedays, don't tell her I said that though.
Being a lowly paramedic with a family I don't have much money. But the job's not about the money now is it. The result of being poor is that I don't have a decent boat, just a plastic coleman canoe. It's nice when we're sneaking into a private pond or lake somewhere that's full of stumps and debris. But the trade off is a boat that is not very stable. It rocks with every bump and if you and your fishing buddy don't have a good center of gravity it can be downright dangerous.
It was a beautiful summer evening several years ago. The sun bathed the whole world in that soft golden light that magically happens right before it drops beyond the horizon. The air was just the perfect warmth, having given over the heat of the day and the mile long pond we were on was still as glass. The birds, the crickets, the fish jumping and rolling...everything was, well, awesome.
We had been fishing for a couple hours and landed several nice bass and many, many small ones. My cousin, Brandon, our friend Ryan, and me. We had a half rack of decent beer left and life just doesn't get more sweet.
Then someone has to pee.
One thing I learned early on about my canoe is that it is not a good idea to try to pee off of it. Not a good idea at all. Unless you brought an extra change of cloths. My canoe only has 2 seats, one in the front and one in the back. So Ryan, having lost the rock, paper, scissors, was crouched on floor in the center of the canoe. He was a good sport about it though and only called us names for a little while.
Coincidentally it was Ryan that had to go.
"Guys, I'm not kidding I gotta go. Go back to the shore."
I glanced at him irritably, "No man, we're a half a mile from the launch area, and fishing's just getting good."
"Besides," Brandon joked, "If you don't stop rocking the boat you're going to scare the fish, ya nub."
Ryan waved his fishing pole menacingly at me, the large bass hook dangerously close to my eye. "I......HAVE.......TO........GO........PEE!"
I nearly stopped fishing, no I didn't. Did you really think I'd stop for something as trivial as this?
"Ok," I said. "I know, we'll get next to that log over there and you can get out and go. I do it all the time, in fact I've used that same log." Keep in mind, I have never done this it just seemed like a good way to get him to be quiet so we could continue fishing.
"I dunno man, that seems like a bad idea." Ryan eyed the log with suspicion.
"No, it'll be fine, I do it all the time." I tossed my spinner bait next to some particularly dense weeds. Gotta be a fish in there.
Brandon smirked, "Seriously, quit being a girl and just do it."
Finally Ryan agreed so we sidled up to the log and Ryan stood, the canoe rocking a bit. The log in question was a medium sized log that looked like driftwood, with a thin mask of dried algae on top of it. Ryan precariously put one foot on the log, swayed a little with his arms out and transferred his weight all the way onto the log. It held.
Brandon and I continued fishing not even sparing Ryan or the log a glance. Ryan started taking care of business.
What happened next has been hashed and rehashed over and over. Ryan swears I did it on purpose but I maintain I was just trying to help. Out of the corner of my eyes I noticed we were starting to drift away from the log on Brandon's side of the canoe. With Ryan perched on the log I didn't think it would be a good idea for us to move away from it. So, while still fishing, I stuck out my leg over the side of the canoe and tried to pull it back to the log with my foot. Now dried algae gives excellent traction, but if you get it wet it reconstitutes to it's slimy, nasty self.
The extra weight of my foot on the log was enough to plunge it four inches underwater, turning the top of the log to snot.
Ryan yelled, "HEY!" Still trying to finish peeing.
I cast again, trying to get that big daddy bass.
Ryan's foot slipped on the log. He got it back up and the other foot slipped. Brandon adjusted his drag and kept reeling. Again Ryan's foot slipped and his other one soon followed, he looked like he was trying to dance a slow jig on the log for a minute, arms started to waver a little.
All of the sudden his feet started sliding at the same time and he began to look like a logger spinning a log under his feet, shouting and carrying on. Needless to say he now had our full attention. His feet were moving in a blur and eyes popping out of his head, arms flailing wildly. I quickly surmised that this was going to end with someone getting wet and that it wasn't going to be me. My foot was still on top of the log and in an act of total self preservation I pushed as hard as I could, kicking the canoe away from the log, and coincidentally pushing the log out from under poor Ryan. He plunged into the water between the canoe and the log. In an effort to save himself he grabbed the canoe with one hand and the log with the other on his way down.
The canoe listed alarmingly to the side then went completely over onto it's side, water pouring into the boat. Brandon and I dropped our poles and scrambled over the opposite side in an attempt to balance the about to sink watercraft.
Now take a moment to consider this sight. Ryan is half in the pond, holding himself up with one hand on a submerged log and the other on the side of the canoe which is now underwater. Brandon and I are perched on the top of the side of the canoe, screaming at Ryan to let go.
The canoe violently righted itself, catapulting Brandon and I into the drink. Luckily the water was only chest deep.
So there we stood, nipple deep in brackish pond water, staring at each other, the canoe gently floating away, as the sun set over this wonderful little fishing hole.
Many minutes passed before anyone spoke. It was Ryan.
"Damn, I need another beer."