Chapter 5: The Balance of Curses and Blessings

“I hate these damn headwinds” said the Urban Angler half-out loud to himself, “they are a pain in the ass blowing me almost backwards!” The strong East winds had been blowing for a couple of days now, and this particular section of the trail the winds were funneled directly down it’s length. “Easy there, QuickSilver” he said as a particularly fresh gust pushed the Urban Assault Vehicle both sideways and backwards. “You know, I’ll bet that there is a Stubb Rule Corollary that says anytime you ride a bike, the winds will be in your face no matter which way the trail goes, and much stronger than predicted”. Ahh Hell, he thought — that’s just one of the curses when you’re human-powered …..

The Stubb Rule thought made the Urban Angler think about his friend, the author of Stubb’s Rules of Absolute Certainty (When Paddlefishing), a grande storyteller, and a man with a few curses of his own. El Stubbo was infamous among the brethren of EldoraWatch for his ability to break any hook, any time — but especially his favorite Jobee leadhead hooks — off on any redfish. How many times had Stubb set the hook on those big redfish, watched and listened to his drag sing, felt the big bend of the rod, only to have it all go slack, and upon reeling in he’d have his broken hook? He’d broken hooks off of countless Zara Spooks and ChugBugs and Exxude jerkbaits. Stubb fished out of “Rule 13” — a highly modified Gheenoe-type skiff with poling platform, electric motor and a 20hp Yamaha that always ran out of gas (well, that wasn’t the motor’s fault). He was dead-set on catching big redfish, but heartbreak always happened when hooked up ……

Then there was someone that the Urban Angler knew very well. His closest friend, AP, was a salt-water guy who threw flies at anything and everything that swam. Only problem is that AP had a disturbingly expensive habit of breaking his flyrod in ways unimaginable for most mortal flyfishermen. At last count, he had confessed to seven breaks in the last year alone. Once casting, once by snagging his backcast on mangroves and breaking the rod on the forward cast, once with his car (by somehow leaving the leader outside of his truck with the rod inside — when backing up the truck ran over the leader causing the flyrod to bend like a bow and explode inside the cab of the car!), once by the curse of all flyfishermen, the overhead ceiling fan that decapitated a tip section, and a couple others that the Urban Angler couldn’t recall the details on, but AP tried to implicate Aliens and a Government Conspiracy.

There was French, who’s boat’s lower end unit could find any bar (oyster, sand, etc.) and ground up on it. The only saving grace was that French had this same ability on land as well as sea, and this could be an asset when needing a margarita or a rum-and-coke. Friend Jeremy traded in a perfectly good dry-riding boat for a better one that bathed you every time the water got a little rough. Monkey always forgot things when going fishing — one time he turned up with his kayak and half a paddle, another time he trailered his boat and drove for an hour to meet AP, but forgot the boat keys. You always brought spare of everything if you fished with the Monk … TailHunter was a friend and fly-fishing guide who was cursed with clients who could not cast.

Just about everyone had something in their lives they just shook their heads at and said “Why me?”. But equally true was that for every fault one could have like this, there was an equally amazing blessing given to this same person.

In Stubb’s case, it was his skill with the pen. The stories told by El Stubbo were legendary, many times involving the Brethren of EldoraWatch in various escapades and adventures. AP, on the other hand, had a lot of luck when it came to catching fish. “He has a lucky horseshoe sewn up up his butt” as French said one day. French himself was a chef par excellence. “Monkey and Jeremy both just had new baby girls born — I’m sure they think of them as a blessing” thought the Urban Angler. TailHunter was a top-notch caster and could thread a fly through a gap underneath a dock without a second thought.

So yes, it seems things balance out in the long run. Whatever the Curse, there seemed to be a Blessing to offset it. Maybe that’s the way its supposed to be thought the Urban Angler. And as he pedaled home he thought maybe all of fishing was like that. Good times, bad times, but it all balanced out. That brought a smile to his lips. Today was a perfect example in microcosm. The Urban Angler had ridden to a far-away destination, it taking him a good hour on the back of the Urban Assault Vehicle to get there. Once there, he enjoyed one of those rare days when everything seemed to go right. There were fish, they were hungry, and they liked the flies that the Urban Angler was presenting. Now, on the ride home the winds had come up making the ride home difficult, and of course would make him later than he already was, and thus the Missus would be upset at him. A balance of sorts.

The Urban Angler found it interesting that his thought always seemed to be circular and whole, coming from a beginning to an end, finding a balance. “Blessings and Curses” he thought, “like a Yin and Yang that gives interest to Life”. He pedaled up to his home, finding the Missus outside in the yard, giving him a smile and a stern look all at once. “You’re late, and now your dinner’s cold” she said to him. “I know — I’m sorry, but the fishing was great today! You should have seen …” and he stopped when the frown came up on her face. “Ahh, um, I better go in and get cleaned up first — maybe I’ll tell you later …”.

He parked the Urban Assault Vehicle, put up his tackle and rod, and made his way into the house. He saw the pile of bills on the table, right where he had left them earlier that day. He hated the drudgery of paying bills, but knew he had to do it and get it over with. “Curses before Blessings”, he thought, “and I’ll even Balance the checkbook”. That brought a small laugh. He headed to the shower, thinking about the next time life offered him either a curse or a blessing, and how he would react …………. hopefully, in Balance.