Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

It's a guy thing



"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day." George Carlin

As hobbies or pastimes go, I guess fishing is no stranger than any other. This is not to say it isn’t littered with characters, ironies and just plain weirdness, but then, what isn’t?

There is, however, security in numbers – at least for the insecure who feel more comfortable hiding out in large groups – and fishing is still the most widely practiced sport, hobby, distraction, time-waster in the world. It touches man’s primal instincts to challenge nature, secure food, and get things tangled up beyond hope.

Some people believe fishing is a metaphor for life. These people are not fishermen; they are philosophers. Fishermen, myself included, believe life is a metaphor for fishing. We are fools. And anywhere there happens to be water filled to any degree with fish, or even the hope of a promise of fish, is Fool’s Paradise.

While it may be important to include women in the broad and politically incorrect moniker "fishermen", fishing is, at its very soul, a guy thing. Anything that involves that much pointless sitting around waiting for something to happen is, almost by definition, a guy thing.

And that’s probably just as well. Fishing is one of those ironic activities that both define the cosmic essence of being a guy and at the same time undermine it in at least two significant ways. It has become a standing joke that guys are incapable of distinguishing between or naming more than six colours: red, green, blue, purple, orange and yellow. This is, of course, in stark contrast to women who can name at least six variations of an infinite number of colours, many of which only exist in cosmetics, home furnishings and the seasonal change of "fashionable" hues.

This grossly unfair stereotype of colour-challenged manhood flies out the window as soon as a guy walks into a shop with filled with fishing stuff, appropriately named tackle. Standing before a wall of feathers, fluff, glass beads, plastic worms and brightly coloured bits of aluminum, a guy can suddenly distinguish between subtle shades of tan, olive, ecru, pink, fuchsia, brown and, yes, even teal. All he has to do to make this amazing transition in colour perception is, wait for it, pretend he’s thinking like a fish.

And if fishing destroys the myth of guys and colourblindness, it also lays waste the generally held notion that guys are indifferent to "accessories". It is absolutely true that most guys can go through life without ever once thinking of a belt as anything more than something to hold their pants up and, with the sad exception of getting old, moving to a Florida condo and suddenly becoming smitten by the white belt and shoes look, never once caring whether their belt matches anything else they are or ever will be wearing.