And in Conclusion

[Announcer voice, that one you used to hear on that Natasha and Boris cartoon after a commercial]

Last time on NickNackPaddyWhack-ed, our heroine had a situation on her hands, how will she overcome it? Will she eat the fish, or let it go? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode…

Just kidding. It’s not that exciting, actually. The truth is that the moment of truth came, when it was time to decide what to have for dinner. I went on like I was going to eat fish. I made a jello-y marshmallow-y, fruity, whipped cream salad and I didn’t take anything out of the freezer to defrost.

But by now you may have already guessed that I couldn’t eat the fish. Couldn’t stand the thought of killing it after I told it that it would be ok.

My husband is a saint. So sweet. I told him we could eat fish. But then I also told him about that one fish, and how I’ve been feeling bad about it ever since. How I couldn’t tell which fish it was, how I told the fish it would be ok.

“Huuuhun,” he groaned, “do not talk to the fish.”

But in the next breath he said, “I’ll let the fish go. I can’t wait to tell the guys at work about this.” And he kind of chuckled and shook his head and headed towards the dock, where the fish were being held on death row.

“You have to at least come down here and look at them, you didn’t even see the ones I caught last night.”

So I followed him down to the dock and he pulled the cage out of the water and I appropriately admired them but also was kind of grimacing and thinking, “THEY CANT BREATHE!” like Bella to Edward in the last Twilight book. (My favorite book of the series and I don’t care if you judge me.  I love a good love story.)

He put the cage back into the water and opened the door. Three of them zoomed right out and I smiled to see them go. The rest of them we kind of had to kick out- they were understandably scared and disoriented and J tipped the cage forward and they realized they could leave and so they did.

And then he still took me out for evening crappie bite, and we caught a few more good eaters but mostly babies, and we just put them right back in the lake because it was our last night.

While I was taking a small crappie off my line and it was shaking and shaking (and shaking and shaking) it’s head trying to get free I said, “Did your mommy teach you that’s how you get off a hook?”

Do not talk to the fish!” J said from behind me.

We had hotdogs over the fire when it got dark, because they were the only thing not frozen, and fruity, marshmallow-y jello salad.

I apologized repeatedly, but J really was a good sport about it and so then I thanked him for putting up with me, instead.

Because the day before that, when we were out on a long ATV ride, we stopped at a local place for an ice cream cone. They have scoop-able ice cream that they serve in giant waffle cones, my favorite being the Very Cherry. We walked across the street, where another part of the business, a hotel/restaurant/bar/antique shop is located, that has a picnic table in a quiet place under a tree. It’s become our ice cream eating spot.

I was thoroughly enjoying the sunny day, the fresh air, the pine trees and most of all the ice cream, when a lady came walking out of the antique store, holding her phone up like people do when they are trying in vain to get a signal up there in the north woods where there isn’t one for miles. I watched her pace around by the shoulder of the road, killing my eating-ice cream-on-a-beautiful-day-that-I’m-not-at-work vibe. She looked a little frumpled (it’s a word, I swear), like maybe she just got out of bed not that long ago, and she was wearing black yoga pants, a big, baggy t-shirt and shoes that look like slippers or slippers that look like shoes- the kind of shoes, in fact, that I wear around the house all the time and J occasionally teases me about. Also, when I work from home, yoga pants and a big t-shirt are basically my uniform once shorts season is over.

I gasped.

“Ohmygod,” I said very quietly but urgently to J, “I look just like that lady!”

He looked up from his chocolate chip cookie dough waffle cone at the lady and then said, “She has the same haircut as you, too.”

OHMYGOD! We even have the same haircut! I look like a middle-aged lady who doesn’t care how she looks! (And even worse, I AM a middle-aged lady who sometimes doesn’t care how she looks!)

“BUT,” he said, “the difference is that YOU are sexy.”

I’m not saying I believed him, per se, but I am saying that was the right thing to say to me at that moment in time and then he nuzzled my neck like “RAWR” and I decided to stop frowning and made a mental note to try not to look like that lady more often.

We finished our ice cream and I ran in one more time to use the bathroom and we headed out into thirty miles of woods and trails we’d never ridden before, stopping here and there when we found a cool place. It was the only ATV ride we took the whole trip besides the nighttime one, and it was a fun, relaxing, adventure.

So, after the fish incident, and the middle aged lady I don’t look like incident, I figured I had pretty much maxed out his “putting up with Nichole” reserves but he impressed me by asking me, while we were enjoying our last campfire of vacation, to tell him about that Enchanted Forest I dreamed up for the woods.

“I’m going to build a boardwalk,” I started.

“Who’s going to build a boardwalk?” he asked, eyebrows raised.

I am stubborn and also competitive and also Gram told me that “Anything boys can do girls can do better” and so I said, “I am.  I’ll get a book.” (I am sure there is a such thing as a boardwalk building book)

And he let me tell him the rest and pretended it was the most interesting thing in the whole entire world.

Our first Monday back, we went out for Mexican (we missed three weekends of Mexican, it was an urgent situation) and I asked him if he told the guys at work about the fish and he said,

“As a matter of fact, I told Randy, and you know what he said? He said Rick’s wife won’t let him keep any fish EVER.”

So, thanks Rick’s wife, wherever you are, for making me look good. I can at least be counted on for a fish fry when I haven’t made any promises to the fish.

“Thanks again,” I said, “for putting up with me.”

“You think you’re hard to love?” he asked.

“Well,” this is dangerous territory I was getting into here, “I require…”

“Patience?” he finished.

“YES!” I agreed.

“You’re an easy lover,” he said, “hey, isn’t that a song?”

“I was thinking more like that one country song, ‘I’m hard to love, hard to love, I don’t make easy’…” (Lee Brice, in case you want to google it)

“Oh, I love that song!” he said, and then he sang a little bit of it and then we finished our queso and chips and held hands as we walked to the truck.

The End.

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