Once every year or so when our sons were young, a primordial instinct would stir within me, and I would develop the manly urge to take them fishing. This despite the fact that I do not particularly like fish and the idea of threading a worm onto a hook gives me the willies. (I cannot help but think catheter.)     
    I recall one summer Sunday when I heard the call of the wild. I awoke to fabulously fine weather and a burning desire for our two preteen sons and me to communally commune with nature.     
    At breakfast, I broke the good news to the boys that a fishing expedition was the best and highest use for a day such as this. They tried to disguise their enthusiasm with comments like, “Aw, geez. Do we have to?” and “Just humor him. Maybe he’ll get busy with something else and forget about it like he always does.”     
    I rushed through the morning’s chores so as to free up as much daylight as possible. When I got back to the house I said to our youngest son, “C’mon boy, grab the spade, and we’ll dig some worms.”     
    “We don’t have to,” he said. “Mom took us to a gas station while you were gone and bought some fishing rods and stuff. We even got nightcrawlers.”     
    “Kids these days are so spoiled,” I said. “When I was a young whippersnapper, we made our own fishing tackle from a rusty nail, used baling twine and a stick. And, we dug our own worms, by gee. Did you know that the fattest worms are under the manure pile?”     
    “Mom! Dad’s being gross again.”     
    So, the fishing expedition was not off to the best of starts. But, I was determined that we would have a manly good time whether the boys liked it or not. I herded the family into the family sedan, and we set off for a nearby lake.     
    It fell to me to assemble the new high-tech fishing gear. I managed to do so with only a minimal amount of grumbling over what that stuff must have cost. When all was ready, I said to my eldest son, “OK, now hand me one of your little worms and I’ll … AIIEE!”     
    The lad was holding out a writhing, slimy thing that was large enough to be a member of the anaconda family.     
    “Well,” I said after recovering from my initial shock. “I guess that explains what the government does with all the illegal anabolic steroids it confiscates. Why don’t you just tie that thing onto the end of your line and toss him in? I’m sure he can out wrestle any old fish in the lake.”     
    We eventually got baited up and were all (except for my wife) happily soaking worms. I do not know why, but it somehow feels manly to match wits with your next prospective meal.     
    My wife presently mentioned that she had to answer the call of nature.
    “Go right ahead,” I said. “There are some handy bushes right over there. But, you might want to watch out for escaped nightcrawlers.”     
    “Yeah,” said my youngest son, “and look out for poison ivy.”      
    “I think I smelled a skunk by the bushes,” said our oldest boy.    
    My wife stomped off to the car while the boys and I grunted and made other manly sounds. Once she was safely in the car, I even scratched myself conspicuously. Yes, indeed. It was shaping up to be a grand day after all.    
    An hour crept by without so much as a nibble. I knew the boys were getting bored when they began to read a pamphlet that had been printed by the Department of Game, Fish and Parks.     
    “Hey, Dad,” said our oldest son. “What does this mean? Near the bottom of page 13, it says it is illegal to take frogs with a rifle.”     
    “It’s a safety issue,” I said, trying to sound like an authoritative outdoorsman. “If a frog has a rifle, you’d best leave him alone. But if he just has a slingshot or something, you can go ahead and catch him.”     
    “Where’s Mom?” said the youngest boy as he glanced around. “I’m getting hungry and thirsty.”     
    “Buck up,” I said. “We’ll be catching our own food any minute now. And, there’s a lake full of water right here.”     
    “Yeah, but don’t the fish go potty in it?”     
    The situation was beginning to look grim. Fortunately, my wife soon returned and rescued her starving frontiersmen with emergency supplies of cookies and sodas.     
    Ah, well. I guess it is true what my wife often says: A little manliness goes a long way.
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, S.D. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.