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Cousin Ollie and the Black Hole

Cousin Ollie stopped by the other day and invited my husband (we’ll call him Jughead to protect the guilty) to come along on a fishing expedition. Now we women, we have this supply of emergency excuses to be used for unpleasant or unwanted requests, like for 42 dozen cookies at 9:00 p.m. the night before they’re needed, or escorting a class of rowdy 1st graders to the glassware store, or a family reunion with your 7th cousins twice removed in Death Valley in July. But men don’t plan ahead for these things, so even through he knew better, Jughead blurted out the first thing that came to mind: “Okay.”

They were off and running in Ollie’s pink Willys jeep with a home-made towbar on the front and a beat-up aluminum boat behind. Things went well for about the first 15 minutes, which is when they turned off pavement and onto dirt road. Coming around a corner they saw a cattle guard. One of those about a foot off the roadbed, like whoever put it in thought the road would grow up around it. They hit the first side and launched over the far side, both occupants bouncing into the metal roll bar, giving them a spectacular view of the towbar breaking loose from the WWII vintage rubber-snubber and falling forward just about the same time as the front end made contact with the road.

Picture a fat pink pole-vaulter with a really short pole.

Eventually, our two intrepid outdoorsmen got everything right side up and sorted out, removing the terminally mutilated tow bar and giving it a decent burial before continuing on to the fishing hole Ollie has kept a secret for years (mainly because he couldn’t remember where it was). They crested the last hill and there it was in all it’s glory…

Unfortunately, what had been a large placid lake is now a pond surrounded by acres of dried up shoreline and thick, black, smelly, oozing mud. Now Ollie is nothing if not an optimist – to him, this disaster just means all the fish would be congregated in that little bitty pond – it’d be like fishing in the bathtub (OK, bad example). Ollie convinced Jughead they could carry the boat out to the water, which they did, eventually, minus both pairs of shoes and each weighing about 50 pounds more than they started and smelling to high heaven.

Now the problem was getting the outboard started. After Ollie pulled and pulled, Jughead took pity on him and flipped the kill switch off. Eureka! Even though there was barely room for the boat to turn around, Ollie was bound and determined to troll (because that’s the only gear he brought). So they go about 10 feet and the motor quits again. Pretty soon Ollie’s got the cover off and is monkeyin’ around with the plugs. Finally he asked Jughead to give the starter rope a pull, which he does, and that’s when things went south for the second (or is it third?) time. Ollie forgot that he had his hand on a wrench, and the wrench was on a spark plug, and the motor turned over, and the wrench went one way and Ollie went the other way. Before he’d pull Ollie back into the boat, Jughead made him promise he wouldn’t hold a grudge since it was Ollie’s idea to pull the starter rope in the first place (I give him high marks for that decision).

By that time they were both pretty well done fishing, and after another slog through the mud they came on back home, fishless once more. Guess it’ll be KFC again tonight.

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