Sep 29, 2013

Personal Space, Who Needs It

We're in the waning days of my work assignment in China. The final count down hasn't started yet, but I'm trying to change my returning move date from "between Thanksgiving and Christmas" to... you know... an actual date we can count down to. Taking some time off from Lunkerhunt has been nice - so nice in fact that I'm not sure I'll write any more posts after this one.

Part of the reason there hasn't been much activity is the fishing has been far from excellent. At best, I haven't been able to crack the code. At worst, there are no fish. I've been able to play around a few times with these little guys, but I haven't found anything else.

Those little fish are actually somewhat challenging to catch. They live in the still canal waters around my home and find a way to act spooky and aggressive simultaneously. I won't bore you with the details because the best fishing stories aren't about fish and only slightly about fishing. So here are four good fishing stories not about fish.

Part I: Hanky Panky
Across the canal, at distance of around 30ft, a young couple sat down on the park bench and started to cuddle. That alone isn't surprising, the parks around here are full of young love snuggling on park benches and blankets. After a while I noticed these two were snuggling pretty "aggressively." At first I tried to divert my eyes, but by the time they rounded second base I couldn't stop staring. These two were going at it on a park bench in the middle of the city.

Whenever other people walked past, the lovers would take a break but the foreign guy fishing 30 feet away was no deterrent. I might have seen a nipple if his hand wasn't palming her breast like a basketball. Things were on pace to go much farther, but the fun ended when another couple set up shop on the adjacent bench.

Part II: Nature Calls
In this city, the government employs workers to clean streets and sidewalks. There seems to be someone assigned to each block and they tend to be older people and they wear a uniform of blaze orange. The guy assigned to my fishing area is really old and really bald, he walks hunched over and works hard nearly every day. I feel a certain amount of respect for this guy, and a certain amount of pity.

While fishing the same spot I described in part one, I heard the distinct sound of flatulence coming from across the canal to my right. I looked over and there was the worker in his bright orange jacket with his orange pants around his ankles. He was amongst some brush, but the only thing that blended in with the background was his bare ass, which was noticeably not white. He'd apparently had some cheap Mexican food for lunch.

So there he squatted for a few minutes, looking directly at me as I fished and he shit. We both had something interesting to tell our wives that night. He saw the "laowai" fly fishing, and I saw the man doing that which ought not be done in public.

Part III: Spectators
Being a laowai means you get a certain amount of extra attention all the time. For example, people take our picture while we're grocery shopping and the gossip mill at work seems to focus mostly on the personal lives of foreigner workers. If you put a fly rod in the hands of a laowai you'll see the attention level ratchet up a notch, people will stop and watch - usually from a distance and usually for a long time. It's just honest curiosity and it doesn't bother me much... usually.

While fishing once, a passerby stopped to watch me fish. Not an unusual act by itself, but this guy stood right next to me. I mean close enough to hold my hand or smell my farts despite the breeze. He didn't say a word and neither did I, we just stood side-by-side for about 20 minutes. I fished and he watched me. I took an awkward step away, and he followed.

Part IV: Electric Boogaloo
I wasn't fishing, just walking and happened to see a guy with two long bamboo poles walking along the canal. He had a homemade backpack made of sheet metal, it was about 2 feet tall and 6 inches deep. This time curiosity grabbed me and I became the spectator.

On the end of one pole he had a big metal spike, and on the other he had a metal kitchen strainer. Each pole had a wire connected to two car batteries in his backpack. The spike and strainer were the electrodes. He would dip the rods into the water and scoop the stunned fish with the strainer. He then dumped the fish in a bucket and walked about 10ft down the bank to do it again. Even this guy was only catching the little ones, so I felt better about my inability to find big fish.