Tuesday, October 16, 2007

We Hate Australia

God, do we hate Australia.
We don't try to be secretive about our deep hatred for Australia. What an awful country, in all senses of the word. Who, in their right mind, would want to go to a giant island full of kangaroo-eating slackjawed bush-yokels?
Awful, awful, awful.
So, as you can imagine, when we read this news story over the weekend, we couldn't believe it. As if we needed yet another reason to hate Australians?! Now we get some moron who falls off a balcony on the ninth floor of a building, dressed only in his underwear, and yet the cruel hand of fate lets him survive the 100-foot fall by crash-landing on a gazebo that broke his fall.
Natural selection, it would appear, does not apply to Australia.
Because on any other normal continent, this jackass would be dead. That's the beauty of nature: It has a way of eliminating those stupid enough to fall off a ninth story building in their underwear. Not in Australia, though.
Now, some of you probably think we are being a bit hard on Australia. To be fair, Australia did give us the precious gift of Elle Macpherson, and they also gave us the subtle joy of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter:

But, then again, Australia also gave us the insane drunken misadventures of Russell Crowe...


So, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has a guide on its website with some pointers on how to react if you encounter a bear in the wild. But nowhere on that list does it say whether or not you should throw a shampoo bottle at the bear's head as hard as you can...

Bears can be pretty mean. They can also be pretty good at catching fish. Which leads us to today's Jack Handey story:

My Hero: A Fish Story By Jack Handey

The greatest fly fisherman I ever knew was a big bear of a man. When he stood up straight he was well over six feet tall. He had powerful, hairy arms and massive, hair-covered legs. His body was also hairy. For some reason he kept his fingernails and toenails long and sharp.
He didn't need a lot of fancy equipment to catch fish. In fact, most of the time he didn't even use a rod and reel. He would just wade out in the river, reach down, and catch a fish with his bare hands. Sometimes he'd just stick his head underwater and catch one with his teeth!

He didn't believe in highfalutin, "politically correct" ideas like catch-and-release. Whatever he caught, he ate--usually right there, while it was still alive. Once I even saw him eat a muskrat. The only thing he liked better than fish was honey. He'd sniff out a beehive and tear it open with those long fingernails of his. Sometimes the bees would sting him and he'd let out a big roar of pain. I'd usually start laughing and he'd charge over and swat me across the head, opening up my scalp. But it was all in good fun. Besides fish and honey (and the occasional rodent), I think the only other thing I ever saw eat was garbage.
It's funny how someone can be so good at one thing, like fly-fishing, and so terrible at other things, like driving a car. That's the way he was. Suffice it to say that whenever he got behind the wheel, nine times out of ten we'd end up rolled over in a ditch someplace, on fire.
He didn't say much. In fact, hardly anything. He'd puff and growl if he didn't like the story you were telling, and you'd usually have to play dead until he calmed down. But then, after another bowl of whisky, he'd be ready for the rest of the story.
He seemed to follow his own set of rules. For instance, he never wore any clothes. And trust me, he didn't like you trying to put clothes on him. Another one of his quirks was, well, he stank. He never bathed and his breath was terrible. Even after you offered him a mint, and he took the whole roll away from you and ate it, his breath was still bad. At least when he would defecate, he'd go in the woods.

Even worse, he had a drug problem. More than once I saw him staggering around, disoriented, with a syringe stuck in his buttock. The authorities would come and carry him away, usually in a net hanging underneath a helicopter. But a few days later he'd be right back, raring to fish.
And boy, could he fish! In fact, when other fishermen saw him coming, they'd usually run away, screaming, because they knew they wouldn't be catching anything while he was around.
After the fishing season ended, he seemed to lose interest in just about everything but sleeping. I think he'd sleep right through the winter if I let him, which I finally learned to do, after repeated skull bites.
People ask what was the most important thing I learned from him about fishing. I guess it would be that you don't need to be a slave to matching the hatch. A lot of times you'll get just as many fish by chasing them into shallow water and pouncing on them. Or by stealing them from other fishermen.
The odd thing is, I never knew his name. Some people would yell out "Griz!" when they saw him, but I don't think that was it. I tried calling him "Lonnie" for awhile, but that didn't seem to stick either. When I think back on it, all I can do is scratch my head, and then wince, from the stitches in my scalp.
But this spring I discovered the most surprising thing of all, when I saw him again after the long off-season. With him were two of the cutest, hairiest little children I had ever seen. And then it finally hit me: The greatest fly fisherman I ever knew wasn't a man at all, but a woman.


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