Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Nurse the Hate: New Potential Goal

Something I started doing a number of years ago was to set goals for myself, the more absurd the better.  I discovered my life had become essentially boredom while waiting for something interesting to happen on its own.  This is a very bad plan.  I look around me and see people that haven’t even tried to do anything in a decade.  There was a woman I know that was losing her mind because she went to an apple orchard and just discovered the “honeycrisp apple”.  She was practically doing cartwheels after learning this apple even existed.  Granted, it’s a good apple, but in comparison she could climb into her car at lunch and have dinner in New York City with world renowned artists and musicians if she put forth even a tiny effort.  Good Apple vs The Big Apple if you will…  You have to try.

I have been carefully considering a new ridiculous goal.  Now by “carefully considering” I mean “made a knee jerk decision completely without any research”.  So I’m sitting around watching the sun set on the sea last week drinking this barrel aged rum on the rocks.  I’m feeling pretty nautical with my salt-and-pepper beard coming in and my tattered old khaki shorts.  This is completely self-delusional by the way as I have no real sea captain experience and looked less “sea salt” and much more “American suburban asshole”.   Regardless, this is my moment.  I have the satisfaction over pulling off the shark dive mixed with the bittersweet reality of not having another goal in place.  It’s an odd feeling.  I need to know where I am headed.

I like these sea adventures.  This is for a couple of reasons.  First, I have almost no real skill set in any of the things I have taken on like the shipwreck dive in Curacao or this shark dive.  I am in WAY over my head.  I have an average amount of athletic ability but the key to these ocean things is really not freaking out when you find out that you don’t know what you are doing.  Panic is what does you in.  Or drowning.  I think because I enter into the situation not knowing what I am doing, I can keep my cool and muddle by.  I never have that moment where I go “Shit!  I don’t know what I’m doing!”.  From the very outset I’m thinking, “I don’t know what I’m doing.  I better keep my shit together.”.

Second, having spent my college years reading Hemingway, Steinbeck, London, Kerouac and other likeminded American writers that chase adventure as a way to kindle the spirit, I feel a romanticism in pursuing this as well.  Globalization has made the planet one big Applebee’s.  I saw some film footage of Mexico from 1967.  It was a different planet.  Compare that with the planet today.  Fucking Facebook wants to put solar powered planes in the air so African natives can play candy crush while they have downtime hunting wildebeests.  It isn’t possible to have A Moveable Feast or Mexico City Blues like it was then.  However, the ocean is the ocean.  It remains a constant.  I see that as a continuous link to the past.

As I sat looking out at the sea trying to decide if I liked that rum (I did), I turned over possible scenarios in my head.  I have this wild idea about diving a sunken shark infested U-Boat that’s about 130 feet deep off the Carolina Coast.  Combining sharks, deep sea diving and Nazis is pretty good.  However, if I didn’t come out of that dive with a Nazi relic, I’d be pretty bummed.  “Oh, that luger?  It’s from the wreck of the U-371.  I believe it is Captain Stroman’s personal sidearm, though I haven’t been able to authenticate that yet after Billings was attacked by the shark.”  Now that’s good but it just seems too tough to pull off.

That was when the idea hit me.  I did a quick search on my phone and found it.  Yes.  Perhaps this is it.  Now, when I say this you might be skeptical.  Stay with me on this thing though.  What I am considering as my next adventure goal is to not only enter but outright win the 68th Annual Ernest Hemingway Marlin Fishing Tournament in Havana Cuba.  Now, I know I have some hurdles to overcome…

1)       I have not caught or attempted to catch a marlin, a billfish which can be 1200 pounds of pure fight at any time in my life.  In fact, I have only fished in the ocean twice.  Once when I was 13 I became so seasick I begged the charter captain to gut me like a tuna to end my misery.  The other was when I went out with some Bahamian dudes, got buzzed up on Kalik Beer, got really sunburned, and caught a barracuda.  The barracuda was probably 25 pounds and almost blew my back out.  The marlin would be 20+ times larger.  This is a concern, especially with the tournaments 80-pound test limit and me being essentially weak and frail.

2)      Cuba is still not officially accepting American tourists, so I will have to drum up a series of phony papers or sit through some horrible “Triumphs of Cuban Agriculture” lecture in some insect ridden Cuban backwoods sugar cane processing plant.  Knowing my long history of winging it without any real attention to detail I will be flung into some Cuban State Prison and beaten until I produce a handwritten “confession” of my crimes.  I need to keep that in mind as I proceed.

3)      I don’t have a boat.  I don’t have a relationship with any fishermen.  I don’t speak any Spanish.  I don’t know how to evaluate who is a good marlin captain and who isn’t.  Even if I could speak the language, I don’t even know what I am looking for in a good marlin captain and mate.  I will have to commit completely on “gut feel”.  As we all know, that works very well in all films.

My thinking is that I will somehow find a down on his luck Cuban sea captain.  Maybe he has a drinking problem.  A bad one.  His boat has fallen into disrepair, sort of a Cuban sport fishing “Orca”.  He has a hard working and undyingly loyal first mate with a great nickname like “Gato”, a small man that is a bundle of energy, good spirits, and deep reserve of hard won knowledge of marlin fishing.  The Captain won this tournament in the late 1980s, but a personal tragedy set him on a downward spiral.  He retains his skills but can’t muster the energy or sense of purpose to once again rise to the top of the sport fishing world.  He needs money and agrees to charter my team.  Slowly we all begin to come together as a team, working together on the boat while a Hollywood music bed of inspirational rock music plays from thin air as we work. 

At last the day of the tournament arrives.  We are completely outclassed at first glance by the well-funded teams from around the world.  It’s time to leave the port.  We can’t find The Captain.  Gato and I hurry on a tandem bike to his weathered lodgings above a local seaside bar where we find him drunk.  “No puedo hacerlo. Gato. No puedo hacerlo.”  Gato turns to me and says, “He cannot.  It is all too much.  The sea has taken his wife.  He no longer trusts the sea.  He is sorry.”  This is when I take a dirty rum glass and throw it at his mirror, smashing it.  “Godammit!  Get up!  We are going to win this tournament!”.  We all exchange glances.  The Captain considers this fork in the road of his life.  Slowly The Captain rises and places on his cap.  “Senor Miller…  We had best get started…”  Gato smiles slowly until it spreads across his face.  We do poorly for the first three days.  Perhaps the Captain has lost his skills.  Gato pats me on the shoulder and says all knowingly, “Do not worry senor…”.  On the last day I sit in the fighting chair.  A monster fish strikes.  We come together as a team despite great adversity.  We catch and tag a 1200-pound Marlin, setting the club record and winning the tournament. 

However, I am concerned the reality would be closer to this…  I walk around a leaky boat with two cantankerous Cubans that talk shit about me in Spanish all day.  They don’t even try to catch any marlin and just burn up whatever gas we buy driving around with lines in the water far from the fishing grounds.  I am dressed in some sort of Hemingway getup and have fallen in to Hemingway speech patterns.  I stare out at the sea and say things like “Every day is a new day.  It is better to be lucky.  But I would rather be exact.  Then when luck comes you are ready.”  The Cubans roll their eyes.  I get overcome from the exhaust fumes from the motor and start to aggressively barf over the side.  We later pull back into port with no catch.  I’m sleeping in the cabin seasick.  All the other boats laugh at us.  One of the mates steals my wallet.  They all get drunk at a dodgy bar, buy whores, take off in the boat and are never seen again.  I slink off to the airport where I am detained for having my passport stolen.  I am imprisoned in Cuba for three weeks.  My grainy passport photo is shown on CNN every 30 minutes as the third story in the news cycle.  Trump finally tweets “We don’t negotiate with terrorists and rogue governments.”   I get thrown into “general population”.  I have to decide to shank the biggest guy in prison or go bitch. 

As you can see, I have some details to work out. 


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