Thursday, April 15, 2010

What’s a Bob Saget?

Guy walks into a bar, says: “Give me the Bob Saget.”

Bartender says: “What’s a Bob Saget?”

“Oh it’s simple,” the guy says, “it’s when you’re an Olsen twin, and Bob Saget buys you a milkshake, and then you wake up the next morning face down with a bloody gutted asshole.”

But I’m not here to roast Bob Saget. I’m here to talk about rainy days.

In Kasilof, Alaska we chased the salmon. Reds, silvers, kings. Tossed the pinks, sole and sharks back into the Cook Inlet. Woke up early for the 7 a.m. openers, got the skiffs into the trailers and the trailers hitched to the trucks by 6. In the water by 6:30, hurdling stacks of whitecaps out to the boss’s site in search of our dancing buoys, the pink and orange gumballs half a mile off-shore tied to the sandy Inlet floor with six-braided nylon cords. Reeled the buoys in, tied on one side of our two-hundred-feet-long gillnets, and roared straight at the approaching skiff bringing the twin buoy across the ripping tide. Grabbed the buoy from the frothing wake of the swerving skiff, tied off the other end of the net, got the hell out of the way before the tide took the net out of our skiff like Paul Bunyan’s hissing slingshot. High-fived like mad if we lost no fingers.

We repeated the set twenty-one times, laid a fucking wall for those salmon in under an hour. Then checked a few knots and pointed the skiffs back towards the five parallel lines of smoke escaping our beach-tent chimneys.

We ate like mad. Military speed in the cook tent: pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, biscuits, cereal; yes, all in one breakfast. If the pick was coming fast we’d wrap apple slices in bacon and roll those in pancakes, hop in the trucks back for the launch without sitting down. Always grabbed dry gloves, always, no matter the rush. Smoked four or five rolled cigarettes every thirty minutes on shore.

Went out and picked our nets, reeled them in over our skiffs like a bridge between buoys and pulled from one end to the other. Hustled every squirming or stone-dead salmon onto the hull of our boats before the tide changed and ebbed or flooded, emptied our nets like an envelope turning inside out. Ripped the fish from the nets. Snapped, shook them. Felt the firecrackers in our forearms—muscle fever. Cursed the rebelling discs in our backs. Looked up every once in a while and realized the office floor was a sea of blue hills and white foam, the cubicle walls cookies-and-cream topped volcanic peaks—handsome and intimidating motherfuckers rising in every direction except the southern door to the open ocean—and then reestablished our pace with the energy of swinging monkeys.

Came in, chucked the fish into totes, ate up. Lots: pizzas, hamburgers, tater tots, gravy, ham, beans; not all in one meal but single portions fit for wolverines. Went back out, battled the tides and the cold and the cramping of hands into cupholders, wrenches, clubs we just swung at the fish when we could no longer squeeze them. Over and over: pick, return, pitch, eat, dry gloves, six Advil, out to the nets, pick, return, pitch, repeat.

We knew that on off days we’d get plenty of rest, sleep past noon, soak in the sauna, recuperate. But an opening could last for 30 hours, more, just keep us cycling through the motions, spirits rising and falling depending on adrenaline, always eventually settling on “Fuck this, we’re never signing up for this hell on earth and water ever again.” Then we’d reach the closing bell, reel in the first net, fish and everything, all into our boat. Continued stacking up one after another, the twenty-feet-long skiffs sinking deep into the water under the weight. Hooting and hollering, the end in sight. We got macho again, felt the rush of finishing a marathon of labor, grabbed the lead lines and refused to switch to hauling in the lighter corks. Finally returned.

Finished the day pitching fish, untangling nets. Ate. Partied. Sucked on Busch Light like those cans had platinum nipples. Chain-smoked hand-rolled cigarettes and fought of Charlie horses from toenail to spine. And we did this rain or shine. No matter the temperature. No matter the tide. Any fucking day Fish and Game said we could give it a go.

Not like in baseball.

Not like in Alameda last Sunday.

Tsunami 0, Benders 0. Wives and girlfriends: 1.
Posted by Tsunami34 on 04/15 at 08:57 AM
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