For most kids, fishing with their dad was something they looked forward to—a fairly rare event that occurred when their mom began suspending Dad’s sexual privileges because of too much time at work and not enough quality time with the kids. Do you know the bumper stickers that reads, “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work”? For me, any day in Hell would be better than a good day of fishing. It wasn’t the murder of our scaly aquatic friends that bothered me. It wasn’t having to wake up at the crack of dawn during my summer vacation. It wasn’t being stuck on a boat with my parents all day surrounded by the smell of dead fish and cigarettes. It wasn’t the fact that I often got sea sick while baking in the hot sun with my otherwise pale complexion that made marshmallows look tan. It was all of these reasons combined with the frequency at which this occurred—virtually every sunny day of my summer vacations from age five to eleven.
My dad mostly worked only on rainy days in the summer. On the other days he would fish off of his 24-foot Boston Whaler, ironically named The Master Bo, that was docked on Long Island Sound. Fishing was the one activity that my mom and dad enjoyed doing together, which was great for them, but meant that until age eleven, I had to go with them because I wasn’t trusted at home alone. My sister and brother, being almost a decade older than I, were busy working, which got them off the hook for watching me. To “encourage” my cooperation, my mom would buy me two candy bars on the way to the boat. This got me to go peacefully but also contributed to a record eight cavities before my twelfth birthday.
Once I “graduated” from elementary school, I earned my independence and was allowed to stay home alone, and I quickly learned that a kid can enjoy freedom a lot more if he has money to spend. So it was time for me to get busy.
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What is a “normal childhood?” Does it include almost being murdered by your sister with an ax? Speeding around town in the back of a station wagon because your mom is chasing an “alien spaceship”? Being busted by the police for intent to light a pond on fire? Tackling your mom to the ground and wrestling a knife out of her hand because she was trying to kill your dad? While my stories may be unique, readers will be able to relate to the broader themes are part of a normal childhood such as sibling rivalry, eccentric parents, doing stupid things, and frequently preventing one’s parents from literally murdering each other.
Although some of the subject matter is not something one would generally laugh at, you have my permission to laugh. Social rules don’t apply here; my rules do. It works for me, and who knows, after reading the stories from my past, you might be inspired to see your own screwed up past in a more humorous light.
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