Way back in a far corner of an outdoor retail establishment located on the edge of a large, but not quite huge, southern US city there’s a small glass case with a handful of fly reels, a couple of racks of fly rods, and one aisle of fur, feathers, beads, hooks, and other assorted materials used to tie flies with.
This is where I work part-time.
My official title is Fly Fishing Outfitter. As it happens I’m the only person in this particular store with that title and am considered by most of the other employees as a fly fishing “expert”. The reason I put expert in quotations is that when you happen to be the only fly fisherman somewhere, being venerated as some kind of feather flinging guru isn’t all that difficult to do. I’m not saying I don’t know my shit when it comes to the sport, but expert really implies quite a lot.
Currently at this point in my life my schedule is as follows: on the weekdays I wake up at 6am to start getting my three children ready for school; I have them all dropped off at each of their distinct and geographically diverse schools by 8am; I come back home and find something to do (usually some sort of chore) until around 9:45am; I go pick up my youngest child who is four and is in what the school calls, for some reason, a “half-day” program though it only last for a little over two hours; he and I either come back home to do chores or stay out to run errands; 12ish, we have lunch; I do more chores, which are usually just redoing earlier chores that my four-year old hellbeast has un-chored; 2:30pm-ish I start the process of gathering my other two children; I come back home, try to cook some sort dinner that won’t be too gross if not eaten while hot, and rush to get ready for work; anywhere between 3:45pm and 4pm my wife gets home in time for brief kiss as I run out the door; 4:30pm I clock in to work while simultaneously praying to a god that has obviously forsaken me that I’m able to spend my working hours actually dealing with and talking to fellow fly fishermen; 4:35pm-9pm I deal with a multitude of individuals whose favorite subjects are bass fishing, cat fishing, Trump, Budweiser, the second amendment, and NASCAR while maybe getting two or three people asking about fly fishing, one of which inevitably only wants to discuss the subject so he or she can disagree with every answer to every question they ask; after work I go home, maybe eat, and go to sleep. Weekends are touch different because I work two nine-hour shifts that can be scheduled anywhere between the times of 8:45am and 9:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.
If you reread all of that you’ll notice fishing isn’t scheduled in anywhere. And like all things that take any amount of skill, practice is the only way to become truly proficient. This leaves me in a place where, on those rare occasions that I do get to go and do that in which I have been deemed an “expert”, I usually come home at the end of the day and am forced to answer how my outing went with noncommittal comments such as, “Oh you know, it’s just nice to get out…” all while dying a little on the inside.
So what I’m trying to say here is that I’m an expert in fly fishing theory. And this makes me sad.