“Well, we are certainly in one big mess, now,” said the old man.
“Oh, no,” replied the old woman. “You talkin’ ‘bout the econopacalypse?”
“Naw,” shot back the old man. “This is way more important. I’m talkin’ ‘bout the fishin’ club!”
“There you go again,” said the old woman. “It’s just a fishin’ club.”
“No, it ain’t,” retorted the old man. “It’s the best fishin’ club in the world! It’s the best fishin’ club there’s ever been. Because of this fishin’ club, we have freedom other fishin’ clubs don’t have.
“Or, at least we did until lately,” said the old man.
“What’re you talkin’ ‘bout,” asked the old woman, not really sure she wanted the answer.
“Well, you know how the meat-polers is always battlin’ with us fly-rodders for control of the club. Sure, they always talk about tag-n-release and how we ought to not to control the fisheries and stuff like that, when what they really want is to control everything and keep all the fish for themselves.”
“I’ve heard you say that before,” said the old woman.
“And you know, a little over eight years ago, they finally got control of the club by convincin’ most of the members their candidate for president was better ‘n ours, ‘cause he was better to share a beer with.
“And we got lazy, ‘cause the club was in good shape, plenty of money in the bank account, we was fat ‘n happy and more interested in collectin’ more good rods ‘n reels than in the prosperity of the club as a whole.”
“Yep, I do remember that and it wasn’t long after that somethin’ bad happened.”
“That’s right,” said the old man. “Somebody broke into the dock boxes and did horrendous damage. It was just awful; ‘bout the worse thing that could ever happen.
“Well, ma’am, not long after that, the new club president — the meat-polers’ president — decided it was the crabbers who’d done it — even though we all knew the crabbers didn’t have nuthin’ to do with it.
“One thing led to another and before we knew it, he had ever’body all whipped up. They went down and tore up the crabbers’ boats and stuff in revenge, while back at the club, lettin’ ever’thing go, so that all the meat-polers were keepin’ all the fish, gettin’ ever’body else’s fish and free-for-all sellin’ ever’thing to pay for all this nonsense, to the point that now we got nuthin’, we’re deep in debt and all the other fishin’ clubs hate us!”
“That does sound like you got a floater, when you really ought have a deep-diver,” said the old woman. “Whacha gonna do?”
“Well, we finally elected a new president and he has his hands full. It’ll take a miracle, but this new young guy seems to have lots of brains. He’s gonna reel in all the excesses that got us in this mess and is askin’ all of us to pitch in, work together and get our club back to where it ought to be.”
“Is it gonna work?” asked the old woman.
“I dunno,” said the old man. “But we gotta try.”
“Sounds to me like you oughta get back to doin’ what the club does best: Helpin’ each other, teachin’ others how to fish, takin’ care to make sure there’s enough fish for ever’body and lettin’ all the club members have a voice in how the club operates.”
“Wow,” said the old man. “It sounds so obvious when I hear you say it.”
Steve Hart is a sailor, angler, explorer, raconteur, amateur citrus-grower and semi-professional theologian who masqueraded as a Florida journalist and pundit for the last 25 years. A fifth-generation Floridian, Hart comes from solid cracker stock but revels in the changing face of 21st century Florida and its patchwork quilt of people, their cultures, traditions, shades and ideas. His book, “Tales from Down Yonder, Florida,” is available in local bookstores and on the Web at downyonderflorida.com.