So, I have this friend named Chuck.
And over the course of time, I have come to the conclusion that everyone should have a friend just like him.
He is not a fishin’ buddy and “adopted son” like Sean. He’s not a twin brother from a different mother like Bill. Nor is he a ministry partner like John. He’s just Chuck and he’s the guy that is not afraid to tell it like it is, the guy who will straighten me out when I’m gettin’ too full of myself and the guy who keeps me on my toes.
Chuck rolls to the beat of a different drum for sure but, in a world that can be so shallow and plastic, he’s the Real Deal.
Besides that, he has a wicked sense of humor and the uncanny ability to make me laugh hard enough to shoot coffee from my nose – usually at the most inappropriate times. (As if there is an appropriate time to expel hot liquids from your nasal passages.)
Anyway, Chuck is the guy that can find anything. Mention that you’re looking for a copy of an old fishing book long out of print and sooner or later he will toss it on the table as you sit down to have lunch.
Tell him about your quest for a tool or gadget that hasn’t been seen in forty years and he’ll track it down like a bloodhound.
The amazing part of it is that Chuck doesn’t drive and has only been using a computer for the last two of his sixty-odd years.
He is definitely old school in his methods but he knows his “craft” and he knows it well. I often liken him to Fagin from the Dickens classic novel, Oliver Twist, which he has never read but is sure that he would like it if he ever did. He has a network of cronies and dumpster divers and swap meet rats and garage sale cruisers that he manages like the CEO of a corporation – his Minions, he likes to call them in an ironic sense of the word.He is also supremely self-confident and talkative and regularly rubs elbows with city council members and business execs with the same casual familiarity that he has with the wino on the bus stop bench or the Jehovah’s Witness knocking on his door.
And he is my friend.
So last week between services at church, he came shuffling across the parking lot with his oversize shopping bag thumping heavily against his leg with every other step. It must have taken him a full half hour to walk the two hundred yards from the bus stop to the church parking lot, but there he was, unmistakable in his light pink Fedora – his Mac Daddy Hat – as he likes to call it. He flagged me down and told me that he had something for me.
Sure enough, he had an old copy of McClane’s Standard Fishing encyclopedia (1965 edition), a copy of the Complete Book of Flyfishing from Sweden and…a trout shaped telephone.
Not that I had asked him to find a trout shaped phone! In fact, we are seriously contemplating dropping our landlines completely and just using our cell phones at home. Nevertheless, he had taken it upon himself to gift me with these items solely on his knowledge and understanding that I love most things fishing and flyfishing in particular. So, he proudly pulled this full-size, plastic, rainbow trout-shaped phone out of his black bag and presented it to me with the same amount of fanfare and excitement that would be exhibited at the Oscar ceremonies later that same day.
Now, it is hard not to draw attention to yourself when someone presents you a trout shaped, vibrantly colored, plastic phone in the midst of three hundred or so jovial, chatting, upbeat people who all know you. It is even harder not to draw attention to yourself when you suddenly and forcefully eject hot coffee from you nostrils in the midst of those same three hundred or so people…
So, I have this friend named Chuck and he knows how to keep me humble and not take myself too seriously.
I think everyone should have a friend like Chuck.
“I love my buddy Chuck and I love this addiction called urban flyfishin”.
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