Earlier today, a meme came across my Facebook feed, which featured a woman's ample cleavage and read, "Sometimes understanding what a woman wants is very difficult. It's like trying to figure out what color, the letter seven, smells like." Usually, these things give me a little chuckle then I scroll on by and promptly forget them. This time, however, I had to stop for more than a moment as I was struck by both the extraordinary cleavage and the relevance of the words in light of something that happened on last weekend's float trip. No, I did not eat any psychedelic mushrooms or drink peyote tea before setting off downriver.
The meme touches on our understanding, or rather our lack of understanding, of those people who are not like us. Insofar as women go, I've been with my wife for some twenty three years, and I still haven't a clue. This may be a deliberate effort on her part, but I'll never know - she's smarter than I am. Insofar as fly fishing goes, we bug chuckers share our rivers with any number of other folks who aren't the least bit interested in fishing. Their lack of interest in things piscatorial is something of an enigma, but they are no less invested in the river for our lack of understanding.
More often than not, the various parties who make use of the river exist in harmony. Every once in a while though ... things just don't go so well.
In the video, that's me standing thigh deep in the run. I knew the flotilla was behind me somewhere so I moved as far out into the seam as I dared, making sure there was plenty of water behind me so the canoeists could proceed unimpeded. There was some 15 to 20 feet of water to my front and 75 or 80 to my rear.
I suppose it could be that I am just such a beautiful man these folks had to get as close to me as possible. Maybe it was the gravitational pull of my corpulent mid section. More likely I think, is the possibility that no one ever educated these folks on river etiquette, and this is where I erred.
Rather than stand there mute, fuming, and thinking murderous thoughts, I should have spoke up and gently rebuked them. Chances are good they just didn't know any better. I don't think any of the clerks or salesmen at Dick's Sporting Goods or L.L. Bean hand out pamphlets on river etiquette to customers who purchase a canoe or kayak.
Speaking up may create a little bit of tension, but only so much as is reflected in our tone. Rebuke them, but do so with the understanding that in a world whose people are increasingly removed from Mother Nature, this kind of thing is bound to happen. Understand that common sense is uncommon. Remember that we don't go to school because we know everything; we go to school because we don't. Be a wholesome person, and explain to the armada passing to your front that there is a better way of doing things.
Had I done that, the bug chucker fishing one mile downstream from us might have been saved just a little aggravation as McHale's Navy passed him by.