Off the Dock
Young at Heart: Off the Dock
    By Beth Mathison
    “Tell me again how you think fishing is romantic,” Frannie said, adjusting the edge of her wide-brimmed hat. She normally wore the hat for gardening, to protect her face from the sun’s damaging rays while she pulled weeds in her vegetable patch. She wasn’t sure what hat was appropriate fishing gear. Mosquito netting? One of those foam hats that house two beer cans and a hose for convenient alcohol consumption? As Frannie was getting ready earlier that morning, she had grabbed the first hat she could find, a pink print covered with tiny daisies.
    “I didn’t say fishing was romantic,” David replied. His head was covered with a baseball cap, the team logo faded from wear and the sun. He had hauled it out from the trunk of the car when they had arrived at the dock. “Just that it might bring more romance into our lives.”
    “All right, let me rephrase my question. How will fishing together bring more romance into our marriage?” she asked. Frannie wasn’t a lawyer, but a paralegal for a small attorney’s office. She brought out her lawyerese when she got defensive. And the thought of spending the majority of the day fishing on a remote lake was bringing out her defenses in spades.
    “Thank you for rephrasing, counselor,” David countered. “It’s that together part. Fishing… together .”
    “I see. And you thought that fishing was the romantic way to go?” she asked.
    “Have I ever expressed an interest in fishing?”
    “Was there some subtle clue in my behavior that said ‘I’d really like to go fishing with my husband’?”
    “Then why did you pick fishing? I honestly don’t understand.”
    “I think that it’s OK not to understand something,” David responded, adjusting the line in his fishing rod. “You get to pick a date once a month. I get to pick a date once a month. So, here we are on the calm waters of Lake Nagawicka. Together. Fishing.”
    Frannie bit her lower lip as she considered his comments. Twirling the knob on her fishing pole, she watched as David tied a hook on his own line.
    “Last month I did pick that English café with all the doilies and lace curtains,” she said. “That was way out of your comfort zone. You also had to endure that snooty waiter who ignored you because you were wearing khaki pants and a polo shirt instead of a suit and tie.”
    “And I did try the mushy peas with my bangers and mash. That was a stretch for me,” David said. “I think I get credit for eating an entire serving of peas mixed up into a fluorescent green paste.”
    “Point taken,” Frannie said, putting her defensiveness aside. “OK, what do I do with this hook?”
    “You have a choice between a worm or a leech.”
    “Do I have to touch either one of them?” she asked.
    “No,” David replied. “For this date, I will do all the touching of worms, leeches, and fish. Unless you would like that experience. And especially if it turns you on.”
    “No,” Frannie responded firmly. “Touching any of those things turns me totally off. I’m going to take a pass.”
    “I did try the mushy peas,” he reminded her.
    “Very different thing.”
    “True. I can’t blame you at all. There is the slime and wiggle factor.”
    David took Frannie’s hook and baited it with a worm. Casting it out for her, he showed her how to slowly reel it in, telling her to watch for the bobber to twitch, indicating a fish on the line.
    The air was warm, a light breeze gently rocking the small aluminum fishing boat. David sat in the back near the motor, Frannie on the middle bench. They had attached padded seats on the hard aluminum seats before setting out from the dock. David had brought two fishing rods and a small foam cooler full of bait. Frannie had brought her purse, a small soft-sided cooler filled with food, and a canvas tote bag filled with rain jackets, sunscreen, and a sweater. She had organized the bags under

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