Laughter binds friends together
"My biggest worry is that my wife (when I'm dead) will sell my fishing gear for what I said I paid for it." -- Koos Brandt
"Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called." -- Jarod Kintz
"Oh, I see how it is, you'll bake cookies if Dylan is going, but you won't bake cookies if he's not. I see how you feel about me now."
"As if you're not capable of baking your own dang cookies," I said sarcastically as I looked at Duncan. That's what I call him, anyway. His actual name is Scotty Duncan, but I think Duncan suits him better. Additionally, when I am feeling playful, I sometimes call him "Duncan Donut." It's corny, I realize, but it always makes him laugh.
Duncan is a dear friend and fishing buddy of my husband, John. Dylan is his oldest child and son. He is also father of Hollie, my daughter's best friend since they were 3 or 4. All three of us like to get Duncan laughing because he surrenders fully to his laughter, allowing his face and neck to redden while his hazel eyes seem to dance within their sockets. His laugh is contagious and engaging -- as is his sense of humor.
Last year, Duncan, John and two other guys had planned their annual fishing trip to Canada to be a father-son or father-daughter trip. At the last minute, one of the guys dropped out, but not the kid. Another adult was needed as the fishing camp had offered a price break to the group as long as there was a one-to-one ratio of kids to adults. Yep, you guessed it. I was roped into going at the last-possible minute.
Therefore, I did not have the luxury of time, as I pointed out to Duncan on our first day in camp, for baking cookies -- especially his favorite, Butterfinger cookies, which are time-intensive. Duncan, after laughing for a solid minute as tears ran down his face, added, "that's no excuse. It's fishing camp, not beauty school. It should not have taken you that long to pack." This snide comment was followed by more vociferous laughter.
Oh brother, it was going to be a long week. It could not believe I was in a remote area of Canada with three adult males, two teenage girls and two teenage boys. Why did I agree to this again?
"What? There's no hot dog sauce?" I hear Duncan declaring on another evening during the same trip. "Oh, I see how you are, once again. Dylan can't go with us, so you won't make us hot dog sauce either. What does that say to these kids? It's not nice to have favorites."
His eyes were jolly, and his voice teased me in the tiny camp kitchen in which John and I were cooking dinner one night for the group.
"Duncan, you are not funny," I retorted smugly. This, naturally, made him laugh harder as his face and neck became as red as a tomato soup can.
"Keep it up, Duncan, and you're not only gonna be on kitchen clean-up, but you'll have to do the cooking, too!"
Laughing, with more gusto, "Nah, John cooks just fine without you!"
Duncan is a real knee-slapper.
While John, Duncan and their other fishing friends plan on another father-son, father-daughter trip for 2014, this summer the guys experienced a fly-in camp on the Attawapiskat River in Ontario, Canada. The camp they flew into was extremely remote and primitive. It was the perfect getaway for those seeking the opportunity to catch big pike and walleye as well as see a wilderness that has been little touched by man's hands.
John thought it would be great fun if I made cookies and hot dog sauce for the trip, but say they were only for Duncan. He asked if I minded doing this, "Since you have the luxury of time." He also thinks of himself as a regular comedian. However, I agreed it would be funny, especially if I used a permanent marker and wrote messages on the storage baggie making it clear for whom these items were made.
Needless to say, when Duncan arrived out our house to load up John's truck the night before the group's departure, he had a surprise waiting for him on my kitchen table and in the freezer. John walked him to the freezer first and pulled out the bag of hot dog sauce I made days earlier and froze for their trip. Duncan grinned from ear to ear, while the other guys teased him mercilessly, as he read the neatly printed message, "Hotdog sauce made with love for Scotty Duncan."
Next, John brought him to the kitchen table where two bags of cookies waited for him with similarly written messages.
"Scotty, I think I'll start calling you 'Precious,' " teased Duncan's brother, Bill. All of the guys burst into raucous cackling as Duncan's head bounced up and down as he chuckled away, too.
"Wait a minute." I heard a serious voice bring the fellows' hysterics to a halt. It was Travis speaking, Duncan's brother-in-law. "Where's the bag of no-bake cookies with my name on it?"
John looked at me and raised an eyebrow. I knew what the look meant. I just shook my head and walked away as the guys once again broke into another round of hysterics.
May we all share laughter the way fisherman swap fish tails, I mean tales.
P.S. If anyone would like my Butterfinger cookie or hotdog recipe, just send me an email with your request.
Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and an eighth-grade reading and writing teacher at South Point Middle School. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.