I put down my coffee cup, took off my glasses and put my left hand over my left eye. I looked over at My Life’s Editor with my right eye. as she did the Sudoku at the breakfast table. There she was, her normal self. Then I put my right hand over my right eye and looked at her with my left eye.Her face had developed a sepia tone like a Matthew Brady civil war photograph and was slightly out of focus like a glam shot. I repeated the process on objects around the room: a lamp, the chairs in the living room, one of her paintings. Same thing. My left eye gave them all a dusky hue. “What are you doing?”, she asked, putting down her pencil. “It’s time,” I said. “Time for what?” says she. “A cataract operation” says I.
Two months prior, Dr. Buzz, eye maven, seated at his desk, had put down his glasses and stared at me significantly across the forest of his ophthalmic doo-dads. “Afraid we can’t do much more for your left eye. You might consider cataract surgery.” I responded, “Uh, when?” He said, “When it affects your lifestyle.” Lifestyle? I had never thought of myself as a lifestyle-type person. I reviewed what I had going for me: middling game of tennis, check; close personal relation ship with the TV remote , check; stack of unread books on my bedside table, check; chronically unsuccessful fisherman, check. But wait. There was that last item.
Increasingly, in recent years as I stood on the bow of a flats boat, doing my Queequeg thing, as the guide implored and then begged, “Bonefish forty feet out at 10:00, there! there!”, I had been able to see nada. Even with my cool new Maui Jim’s, I saw nada. Maybe with a cataract operation…?
On the day of reckoning, as I lay on on operating table awaiting the tender mercies of Dr. David, cataract surgery whiz, I had second thoughts. What if the intraocular lens slipped from his grasp, fell on the floor and rolled under a nearby cabinet? Would he simply pick it up, give it a swift swipe with a tissue, maybe his sleeve, and pop it in? By that time however, I had popped something myself – a Valium pill. My BP had slid from a white coat syndrome 156 to a more manageable 130.
Five days later, my left eye was a prodigy of distance vision. Once again, I sat at the breakfast table with My Life’s Editor. I smiled benignly at her. I placed my left hand over my left eye and gave her the once-over with my right eye. She had the deja vue, dusky hue. Time to call Dr. David.
The tug on my foot was firm, about the sensation you get when you lace up your shoes. Only in this case a young doc, in a doc smock, was lacing up the wound on the sole of my foot. I sat on a gurney in the BayCare “doc-in-a-box” facility on 4th St. N. I saw later, on the official documents related to the incident, which I received after being cleared to leave, that I had suffered from a laceration. I was glad to see that. Laceration sounds a lot more serious than “cut” when retailing the gory details. It smacks of something you get in a saloon brawl.
The proximate cause of the incident leading to my laceration is that on the night before, I invited my friend Larry to join me in a spot of wade fishing off of North Shore Park. Larry is a professional photographer. He specializes in super-large graphics that go on the walls of hotels and VA hospitals. He knows something about the VA because he received a lot of life-threatening type lacerations, courtesy of the Viet Cong, and piled up frequent visitor credits at VA hospitals. Plug for Larry: you can find his work at www.theartaroundyou.com. In the morning we stashed his spinning rod and lures and my 6-weight fly rod and belly pack in the back of his Mini-Cooper and motored on down to the park. We were eager for action as we made our way across the park, clambered over the sea wall and waded out. Hopefulness marks the beginning of my fishing adventures, however delusional and misplaced it may be. There is a parallel with my dating experiences in college – they began with eagerness and hopefulness, proved equally delusional and misplaced.
The bottom near shore was a sand/mud mixture and was a slog in my Neoprene, zip-up booties. As I trudged out to where the weed growth began and the bottom began to firm up, I looked over and saw Larry, a large-type guy, making awkward movements, lifting one foot after the other, slowly and high, and slewing from side to side as the lead foot slid on something. He was doing a fair imitation of a clown in the Barnum and Bailey show, duck-walking in super large red shoes. “This bottom is sucking on my shoes!” We finally got out a bit to water that was about thirty inches deep and began to cast over the weed beds, hoping (there is that word again) for a sea trout. There was always the possibility of the legendary Tampa Bay Triple – lizardfish, pinfish and a ladyfish. Larry had a noisy surface plug that he chugged along. I hadn’t the heart to tell him that the plug was a losing proposition. I had on a small, white foam-faced slider that had been made by my friend Glenn in his fly-tying studio in Michigan. Trout are always interested in it if they are around. They tend to bat at it as if offended, not sincere about hooking themselves. A school of small shad came along and took an interest. I was unhooking one, getting stabbed by its dorsal spines, when I heard a shout and a prodigious splash. Larry had gone down like a British heavyweight who had taken a right to the jaw. I started slogging over to him as he struggled to right himself, dripping wet. “My shoe! My camera!”
Larry had lost one of his canvas deck shoes. He groped around the bottom with one arm, leaning over, chest against the water. No luck. His camera, in its water-tight bag, was safe, however. He exclaimed, “I’ve had it!” or something approximating that, with a few supporting adjectives, and trudged back to the shore. I debated following him directly, but then, hey, that school of shad was out there, and biting. I hooked a few more, kept looking around to check out Larry’s progress. Finally, I turned and started back to shore. He was a friend, had lost his shoe, and most importantly, was my way of getting home.
Back at the Mini-Cooper, we dug out some towels to cover the seats. I turned to remove my booties, took one off, and placed an unencumbered bare foot down on the grass. It seemed though, that a partying fellow-citizen had broken a glass bottle into pieces, the bottom piece nasty side up. There was much blood.
We drove to the doc-in-a-box, my foot wrapped in a towel, propped up on the dashboard. Just another low-profile Tampa Bay fishing experience.