Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Is It Much Farther Papa Smurf?

It's funny how we carry moments from childhood and adolescence into our adult years. Tune the radio to a station that plays the songs we listened to as teenagers, and we'll likely know all the words verbatim even though we haven't heard those songs for years - perhaps decades. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I know this one ...

I was a headbanger. I wore faded denim and high-top Reebok sneakers with the tongues hanging out. My buddies wore band patches like military insignia. Metallica. Megadeth. Anthrax. Exodus. We smoked Camels, Winstons, and Marlboros. We drank Black Velvet from the bottle. We were bad ass, and yet there it is. I know the words - all the words - to Wang Chung's, "Dance Hall Days." And so long as I'm being honest, I know all the words to The-Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Prince's, "Batdance," "Raspberry Beret," and "Cream."

Prince was amazing. There, I said it. It's taken me nearly thirty years, but Prince was amazing.

And along with the music are a slew of images; bits and pieces of history and pop culture that have parked themselves in my temporal lobe, squatting in the space that would have been better occupied by calculus and fifth year French. Here's one that sticks with me ...

As unlikely as it may seem, I found myself thinking of the smurfs this past weekend while I sat in the bow of a friend's drift boat. We were eight hours into what would eventually be a 12 hour float. We had hooked some good fish, but fishing was generally slow - as fishing sometimes is this time of year. The last of the beer disappeared a mile upstream, we were two hours overdue for lunch, and we had just passed the section of low riverbank that is our normal take-out. We were dehydrated, sun burnt, and our eyes ached from squinting into the sun. We were done.

At one point, I said out loud and to no one in particular, "Is it much farther Papa Smurf?"

From the back of the boat came the reply - spoken in stereo and like the answer to a sentry's challenge, "Not much farther my little smurfs." I guess we were all thinking the same thing.

But here's the thing. As difficult as were those last few miles, I wouldn't take them back. However long, however arduous was that trip - we were still floating down a beautiful river on a gorgeous day, casting ugly flies to hungry fish. Given all the alternatives, I'd have to say that there are far worse ways to spend an afternoon.

What bug chucker doesn't appreciate a good piece of tail?
Kegs and eggs ... breakfast of champions.
This fish is living proof that trout are stupid, and will eat half a rabbit skin if we throw it at them.
A hell of a boat, with a hell of a skipper.
Whatcha' lookin' at Pee-Wee?

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