He’ll Catch it, But He Won’t Eat It

He loves the thrill of the chase and can outmaneuver even the most slippery among them. He can find them in the deepest depths of the ocean. And, he’ll help you reel them in over many long hours of give and take.

But, he will not, I repeat, he will not eat them.

My brother, the Boat Captain.

Who doesn’t eat fish.

You want to take a fishing excursion to catch some delectable white flesh King Fish?  He’s your man.

You want someone to cook it up to artistically cubed perfection? He’s your man.

You want someone to pull up a chair at the table and enjoy it with you?

He’s not your man for that.

One of the things I most admired about this kid, who slept in the bedroom next to mine, was his ability to hear adventure calling so easily. He’d climb right on out of that bedroom window, without a backward glance, and go find it!

And as The Captain of many a boat over this past decade and a half, he’s had lots of adventures.  I love to hear about every one.

I raise my fish-laden fork to my brother, who turns the big 4 – 0 today.

May forty bring a renewed Spirit of Adventure.

And wrinkles.

May it bring you a ton more wrinkles than me.

Yes indeedy.

I love you, Kid.

Happy Birthday!

bro_sis_collage_missindeedy

Basically, Fish Tacos

One year, while Sweetman and I were visiting Captain Ahab and The Nana down in Florida (before children – Sweetman calls them The Ignorance Is Bliss Years), we went out for dinner.  We all agreed we were in the mood to hit our favorite Mexican joint.

As we went around the table giving our orders to the waiter, there was a surprise order. Nana’s. She ordered “Fish Tacos”.  I choked on my Margarita. Sweetman spewed his beer.  We both looked at each other in horror. Ahab just shook his head sadly.

Now, I grew up in sunny South Florida.  I ate fish here, there, and everywhere.  I did not, however, grow up eating fish in my tacos. This order took me so completely by surprise that I didn’t even know how to process it.

“When did you start eating fish tacos, mom?” And, more importantly, WHY?”

“People change, dear. I really like them. You should try them.”

We agreed to disagree.

By having more margaritas.

Later that night, Sweetman and I awoke to the gentle soothing sounds of The Nana hurling. All Night Long, as Lionel Richie would say.

“It was that Margarita, I tell you!”, she kept insisting.

“Mom, I had the Margarita, too.”, I tried to remind her.

No matter. She wasn’t having it. It just could not be her beloved fish tacos.

That night held many lessons for us all.

The Nana is a horrible liar.

Sweetman and I would never be interested in “trying” fish tacos.

Ever.

Margaritas are evil.

Take your pick.

So I found it surprising to be having this conversation with Sweetman last night:

“Honey, what do you think about trying… now keep an open mind here… black bean and salmon tostadas, one night?”

And just when I I thought the recipe couldn’t get any worse, he started rattling off the list of ingredients, prefacing almost each new one with “Now, we don’t have to add that one.”, or “That one might not be a good addition.”.  He mentioned words like “cabbage” and “pickled jalapenos” and some other things.  I think I tuned out after “salmon tostada”, to be honest.

But this is how it goes around here between he, who cooks, and me, who… well… doesn’t.

If he thinks that being adventurous is adding cabbage to a perfectly good tostada, who am I to judge?

Engineers do those sorts of things.

“So, basically, you’re asking me to eat fish tacos?”, I challenged.

“Yeah.”, he admitted.

“Only if you serve it with Margaritas.”, I demanded. “Then, I’ll have a culprit.”

“Deal.”

I guess people do change.

And, once again, my mother is right.

Yes indeedy.

*And, though my stomach turns even as I write this, if this is your cup of tea, Sweetman found the recipe for these “Black Bean Salmon Tostadas” here. You’re welcome.  Or… I’m sorry.*

Captain Ahab, I Love You

Ahab and I have always had a tender and precious father-daughter relationship.  It hasn’t always been roses, of course. Just ask him about the terribly hurtful stage I went through when it didn’t feel “comfortable” to hug and kiss him anymore.  (That lovely age of 13 – it should be banned.) 

I now see the redemptive power hindsight has, though.  Looking back on the behaviors of my parents, through the lens of adulthood, provides a new understanding of All The Rules.

Clarity is an irony.  It’s only in looking backward that I understand more clearly the path I want to forge with my own family, moving forward.

That path, in large part, is because of the one forged by Ahab for his own family.

He may be a Fishing Guru, but what he really excels at is this:

 “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves…”

Romans 12:3 (NLT)

He may have been rough around the edges, but, with Ahab?  What you see is most definitely what you get.  (Nana – stop that sighing. Right now!) I learned to take myself, and the things of this world, a little less seriously from him.  (Unless, of course, we’re talking about the battle plan for the two Sport Lobster Days in the Keys each July. Then?  Then, it’s Get Your Game Face On!)

Ahab taught me how to laugh in the face of danger (“That shark over there? He isn’t interested in you.”), how to go after something you want with determination somethin’ fierce (“Well, get after it! And don’t quit until it’s done!”), how to find the joy in simplicity (“Aw, that’s nothin’ but a thing.”), how loyalty should mean something (“We take care of our own!”),  and how laughter can bring some much needed levity to A Situation (“Hair on your upper lip you say?  Well then, we’ll just call you Harry and the Hendersons from now on.”)

And he taught me love.

“Aw, you’re just sayin’ that cuz it’s true.”  Indeed I am!

I love you Captain Ahab.  Happy Father’s Day!

He always can make me laugh.

He always can make me laugh.

Do you have some fond memories of your father, step-father, uncle, or grandfather?  Please, share! And spread a memory or two.  I love hearing other people’s stories!

 

That’s More Like It

It’s been raining on and off since we arrived here in Not-So-Sunny-Florida.  We are, however, with a Nana and a Captain Ahab that we haven’t seen in a good long while;  and, so, we’ve been enjoying each other anyway.  Imagine. The Captain, however, is up to his same old tricks.  I haven’t  come up with a catchy name for the debacle that occurred this morning yet.  It could be called Watergate.  It really could.  But that’s already been taken.  Here’s the gist:

Ahab: “Let’s run the kids over to the beach to check the ocean before the day gets rolling.”

Me: (Naively) “That sounds like a great idea!”

The sun was sparkling across the water and peeking out just enough at 7:00 in the morning to give us hope for a decent day. We grabbed hold of that hope with a little more zeal than caution would warrant for the skies that were overhead. Can I just stop here a moment to tell you all, (all 8 of you), how poignant it is to watch my children walk the beach early in the morning with Captain Ahab?  That same daddy walked me and my brother when we were their age.  Oh, how the beach shell turns…

Aren’t Those Skies Talking?

Far longer than a “short beach run” later, we arrived home soaked to the bone.  You see, Captain Ahab thought it would be a mighty fine idea to walk the kids (including the littlest – Sweetgirl) all the way to the jetty.  And back. From where we started out, it was a good quarter-mile (or more) there, and then another good quarter-mile or more back.  That would have been great if we just had the two 9-year-old boys.  Alas… Halfway TO the jetty, Sweetgirl started telling us that her legs were tired of All The Walking.  Not a good sign.

Just about the time Ahab and I realized we should probably start heading back from the jetty, the skies decided to get angry.  We tried to shuffle the kids away, but dang it, there was a hot-pink mask washed ashore that was just Sweetgirl’s size, and a half-dead sea fan that begged to be brought back (despite the stench); not to mention the two turtle hatchling eggshells we found.  Oh, The Excitement!  Unfortunately, all of The Excitement made trying to hurry them along kind of like herding cats.  Only, harder.

Happily at the Jetty

All that to say, about 2 minutes into our 15 minute walk back, the skies opened up and rained on our beachy parade.  Here are a few things I heard from the lolly-gaggers before one of them needed to be picked up to keep the party moving along.

Sweetboy:  “We’ve walked 3 or 4 miles now, haven’t we Grampa?”

Sweetgirl: “My Eyes!  My Eyes are getting wet.  See, Grampa?”

Cousin:  “Can I just go ahead and jump in the ocean and go swimming?  I’m already wet!”

We did make it back. Wet, but happy to have enjoyed the adventure.  And to have made it back without getting struck by lightning. Obviously. As, I’m now sitting here in the comfort of the house telling you all about the latest adventure “abroad”.  Only, “abroad” is really just down South from up North.  Indeed.

Why, Certainly!

One of the best things about growing up as a child of Captain Ahab was our sense of certainty.  We were certain that plans could, indeed, be set in stone.  We were certain that if we sassed back, we’d get it. We were certain that one day a week was reserved for church, yard work, and soup and sandwich (in that order, mind you).  And whenever we dared question whether one of those things were really going to come to pass, he’d reply, “Why, certainly!”.

Captain Ahab and I sometimes butted heads in the worst possible way. I now know that it was because we are so alike.  And I totally empathize now.  I see, in my Sweetgirl, the same characteristics and personality traits that surely made him shake his head in consternation at me.  And I find myself saying the same things to Sweetboy and Sweetgirl that he said to me and my sibling.  I can also see, now, that those things were imparted as certainties so as to instill a sense of certainty to life during uncertain times.  And although some of Captain Ahab’s “certainties” were outdated, to my mind, I can see the “why” behind almost every one of them now. Perspective is funny that way.  Parenthood, too.

And with that, I recently heard myself uttering one of the Captain’s favorite phrases.  Sweetboy had just asked if he absolutely had to take at least three bites of the new food on his plate? To that I said, “Why, certainly!”.  Yes, indeed.