Thursday, January 5, 2006

New year, my ass

My New Year's Day fishing ritual notwithstanding, I've got none of the optimism that these resolution-making nitwits exude to the point of perversion. You could say that I'm a grouch or curmudgeon, and you'd be correct. My heart weighs heavy, both physically and spiritually. I've tried my best to cheer myself: I just drove four hours round-trip to the nearest Trader Joe's to stock up on wine. I even discovered a delightful garnacha/tempranillo blend from Spain. It's a big, fruity red, perfect for pork tenderloin and only six bucks a bottle. I uncorked a bottle in the store (always carry your corkscrew, friends) and sipped, then hooted in delight. The clerk helped me load up the boxes and said that next time I was welcome to taste the wines in the back room where it was more appropriate.

My car laden with cheap food imported from countries that understand the notion of cooking, I reached a momentary plateau before plunging again. My troubles are legion. Instead of a list of bubbly resolutions, why don't I jot down a few reason why this year already "sucks ass," as my daughter Billie would say.

1. After the briefest of flings, Shirleen Tomasetti has left me. "God, Prof. Trout," she said as she pecked my cheek on the front stoop, "You've opened my eyes." She's not coming back to finish her MFA writing degree. Ordinarily I'd say "good for her" if I wasn't so fond of sleeping with her. She's filled out the paperwork for the Peace Corps, and while she waits on that she's going to Bolivia to visit a friend that works for USAID. Said she wants to gather some life experience, "before I try my hand at this writer-thing again." I told her to give my regards to Evo Morales, and then I wept inconsolably as I watched her drive away.

2. My agent, Doloros, has fired me. Fired by an agent! Twenty years we've been together. "I just don't think I'll be able to move these books, hon," she said over the phone in reference to my latest two manuscripts. "I don't know what it is, but you don't take your work seriously anymore. It's a new year, and I truly need to start fresh. I'm picking up two young writers, and they're amazing. And prolific. They will keep me very busy. Also, I'm tired of apologizing for your behavior." This last bit was in reference to a writers conference last summer where I became a little too friendly with the program director's spouse. She was gorgeous at sixty-eight. She was also smart, frisky and lewd, an irresistible combination. If only he hadn't found us out.

3. My ticker continues to labour. I'm surely a bypass candidate. My department director, though, with her typical lack of compassion, has insisted I take a full schedule of classes this semester.

4. All three ex-wives are still ex-wives. And too they grow lovelier by the year.

5. Billie wants to continue her post-graduate studies in London. She'll be farther away. She'll probably marry a slimy Brit with no sense of cuisine.

6. And perhaps most dreadful of all, Ms. Puppycute, my dear Lizzie Lowell, is preggers. What's worse, Billy Clayhouse seems to be her pollinator. I can only blame myself, as I encouraged her to find him and spend time with him. I, of course, feel bad for the girl, but I also worry about Billy. A thing like this could very well ruin a writer. I spoke at length with Elizabeth, as she can't talk about this sort of thing with her father, his being a Baptist minister. I'll record a transcript of our conversation soon. Needless to say, this is a soap opera which I do not need at the moment.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Black ass on the river

(With apologies for the double-pun in the title.) I spent the first day of the new calendar year as I always have for the past thirty years: waist deep in trout water. At least I didn't have to contend with sleet and frostbitten pinkies this year, though the day was gloomy, windy, drizzly, gray. Though I'm suffering in the throes of a serious black ass for various reasons I will elucidate shortly, my mood was leavened slightly when I landed four scrappy little rainbows on pheasant tails. I dislike fishing nymphs, but dry flies don't cut it in January. I then spotted an adult bald eagle surfing the gusts above the blufftops. She shadowed me for the rest of the afternoon, warming me from the soul outward.

My angioplasty hasn't worked. If anything, I'm more winded than before the procedure. I had to wade two miles upstream in a rush to get back to the car before dark, and I was so exhausted I sat on the bumper for a full thirty minutes, gasping. I fear I may need the bypass.

And then, when I returned to the apartment, I met a young woman whom we all know at my doorstep:

Young Woman: (weak smile) Greetings Prof. Trout.

Prof. Trout: Imagine finding you here. (hug) Happy New Year!

Young Woman: Happy New Year.

Prof. Trout: What brings you here at this hour?

Young Woman: (looks around, then bursts out) I'm pregnant.

Prof. Trout: Goodness! Are you sure?

Young Woman: Yes.

Prof. Trout: Heavens! And do you know who the father is?

Young Woman: Yes, it can only be one person.

Prof. Trout: Heavens!