I’m just going to say it--- if I see one more picture of a skinny, bikini-clad blonde holding up a bull red and smiling on a fancy fishing boat, I am going to puke. That is NOT what most fishermen’s wives look like. These cute little blondes have a rich daddy who was nice enough to send his little princess to Cancun for Spring Break, and she just so happened to try to go out on a fishing excursion to show the boys how cool she was, and she accidentally caught some big ol’ Mahi-Tuna-Swordfish crossbreed (which I’m sure she did not know the name of until she was told --- 4 times). This is the story in my head, and I’m sticking to it.
It more than upsets me to see these pictures for a few reasons:
1) Hell yes, I am jealous that she looks so damn good in that cut off tank top that I could NEVER pull off.
2) Hell yes, I am jealous that she is on a fancy boat off the coast of Cancun without a care in the world, and her daddy paid for it.
3) Hell yes, I am jealous that she caught a Mahi-Tuna-Swordfish crossbreed.
4) But mostly---- these photos make the bile rise in my throat because REAL Fishermen’s wives do far more than giggle while looking cute in a paradise photo op.
Let me paint a real picture for you--- the real wife of an angler rarely shows up in photos because she is either at home with the kids, or she is the one taking the photo. However, IF a fisherman’s wife did show up in a photo--- here is what you would see. You would see her making sure that each kid had his/her line in the water before she even baits her own hook. You’d see her rubbing 70 SPF sunscreen on her husband because GOD FORBID he have the instrinsic motivation to prevent his own skin cancer. You’d see her running in the background toward her son’s catch because she knows it’s a hard-head from 20 feet away, and she doesn’t want him to get barbed. You might see a picture of her cutting the bait into smaller pieces to make it last longer for her daughter. You most definitely would see a picture of her trying to get fish guts out of her hair. And if she is really lucky, you might catch her in a moment of relaxation trying to wipe dead-shrimp juice off the top of the can of beer (because somebody got the bait & beer coolers mixed up) while she sits down to catch her breath for two seconds.
Of course there will be a few occasions which she actually catches her own little whiting or black drum, and her hubby will be proud enough to drop his own line long enough to take a picture. In that photo, she damn sure won’t be wearing a freaking string bikini with cut-offs and a face full of make-up (WHO are these girls?). Instead--- she will probably have on the same grungy, baggy pants she has on in the last photo because those are her comfy, fish-gut-wiping pants, and they have enough room in the pockets to hold pliers, rags, and a flask. A real fishing wife will be wearing one of her husband’s XL Coastie Culture (or other fishing related brand) shirt. She won’t have any make-up on because she knows that if her sunscreen runs into her eyes, it will sting and her mascara will run. She will also be wearing a hat in order to avoid her hair getting entangled with fish guts or getting blown in her freaking eyes every freaking 5 freaking seconds.
Ladies and Gentlemen--- THIS is what a real fishing wife FREAKING looks like.
At a Super Bowl party last week, my husband and I were blessed to meet Richard. Richard is the first person I’ve met in a while who appreciates what we ladies sometimes deal with. After introductions were made and my husband swayed the conversation over to fishing, I thought I was only secretly rolling my eyes and sighing at an all too familiar scene. Apparently, Richard caught on. He leaned over, and through a smile, he asked, “Are you a fishing widow?” With one small question, he had validated every bit of what I have felt since I figuratively lost my husband to the ocean 3 years ago.
If he isn’t at the pier, in a kayak, or surfcasting--- then he is at Fishing Tackle Unlimited or his eyes are glued to TKF forum. We have even sacrificed date nights due to off shore fishing trips or to meet up with fishing buddies.
I know you other fishing widows are feeling what I’m saying right now. I know you are putting your hand in the air and screaming out, “Preach it, Sister!” But, before you start letting that bitter streak show--- let me share with you something with which I am coming to terms---- While the ocean is pretty big competition, it ain’t a skinny, bikini-clad blonde. Fishing is where my husband goes to refill his soul just like I do when my nose is buried in a book (or a glass of wine). Through the years, I have seen too many of my friends lose their love to gambling, bar-hopping, cheating, or just plain indifference. I have to tell you, sisters, I don’t see fishing being the root of any of that. I see my husband passionate about learning, I see him reading, I see him making memories with our kids, I see him trying to spark the same zeal within me, I see him bringing home dinner like a BOSS!
I’m not so sure I’m a widow. This isn’t a man who is indifferent or dead to his wife. Quite conversely, it’s a man who is most definitely alive. Can’t complain about that.
This blog’s shout out goes to all of the fishing wives I see in the background of those photos! Go give your fisherman a big fat kiss on the mouth, and tell him thanks for choosing fishing as a habit instead of all of the other things he could have been addicted to. Remind yourself that he has to go to sleep sometime, so unless there is a tournament going on at the pier, he will be home in time to lay his head on the pillow next to yours. On the days when you feel like you have slipped too far into the background, I hope you find it in your heart to step into the sunlight, stand next to your man, represent the rest of us in your fish-gut covered jeans, and cast that line out into the ocean.
(Side Note to the Anglers--- please go hug, kiss, and thank your significant others.)