You Can Never Have Too Many Shoes (or flies)

I saw a line the other day that said something to the effect: “Just one more cast” while fishing is the male equivalent of a female saying “just 5 more minutes” while shopping. In my case, nothing could be truer. “One more cast” has about as much relation to reality as “5 more minutes” does when Jackie is shopping. It’s just things we say to shut the spouse up really. Generally followed 5 minutes later by some version of “come the #$% on” from said spouse.  It got me thinking about other parallels……

Tomorrow I’m leaving on my yearly fishing trip to quite possibly my favorite place on Earth (that I go to with guys anyway). This will be my third big trip back there (2 years were cancelled because of flooding and other weather events) over the past 5 years. Many of my stories revolve around trips such as this, where I go in the back country for 3 or 4 days with a bunch of guys. Things tend to happen. Throw in booze and more things tend to happen. Can’t wait to find out what that is this year.  But this story (not really a story, more along the lines of observations) isn’t about that. It’s about getting ready for a trip. Hopefully it will be short as I only have the lunch hour to write. I do still have a trip to get ready for!

Over the past several years, as the kids have grown up, Jackie and I have spent quite a bit of time travelling. I’m not going to say I’m a light packer for non fishing trips, but I do make some effort. Jackie makes an effort to pack light as well. She just fails pretty miserably. It can drive me a bit crazy actually. The worst was when we were travelling through Europe with our son (he was living in France at the time) and we were taking the subway from the apartment we stayed at in Barcelona to the train station on our way to Lisbon via Madrid. Instead of like most travelers with maybe a backpack and one carry on, we have my somewhat overpacked filson canvas bag and Jackies 2(!)suitcases. It was a bit embarrassing to lug all that crap through the subway, knocking people out of the way as we stumbled around train stations searching for locker space. Hopefully next time we (ok, her) will pack lighter, but probably not.

Oh, and as a side note: If you go to Madrid, wear a lot of black. If you are wearing blue shorts and a bright colored shirt you will stand out. Like a big bald neon sign shouting “North American Tourist Right Here!!”  People laugh and point. It’s awesome.

Anyway, what has become glaring apparent to me as I pack for this trip, is that I pretty much have the same overpacking disease, just with fishing and camping equipment instead of packing multiple pairs of Manolo Blahnik’s. (Ok, she really doesn’t have multiple pairs of Manolo’s, I just wanted to show I knew the name of a fancy shoe manufacturer), I pack multiple fly rods (because like shoes, each rod has a different purpose and also like shoes, you can never have enough). And multiple water jugs. And gas cans. And grills. And tarps. And flies. Oh, oh, so many flies. It turns out I have this horror of going on these multiple day trips and running out of stuff. Or have something break and not having a backup. Or horror or horrors, not having the exact right fly with me. What if the other guys have the right fly and I don’t? What then? I won’t catch any fish and all the guys will laugh at me. Or what if I have the right fly, but run out? Or I’m the only one with the right fly and want to give some to my friends? I better buy dozens and dozens of everything I can possibly think of (at $2.00 a fly), in many different sizes (the fly box in the picture ain’t got nothing on me! I need several of those). Ignoring the fact that in reality, there are really only 4 or 5 flies I fish with on this trip, and probably only need maybe a half dozen of each. But like any good boy scout, I need to be prepared for any eventuality. So I buy many dozens of flies.  Fly shop owners exist because of guys like me (which is pretty much every fisherman!). If we only bought the stuff we needed, or will even use, they would pretty much be out of business. Instead, we buy many multiples of what we actually need.

The other problem is, there is a lot of individual thing to bring. What needs a backup and what doesn’t? Where is the limit (there isn’t one apparently). And it is WAY worse if I am buying for the group. Instead of flies, lets use beer as an example because everyone can understand it. Last year, my brother, brother in law, and cousin came from Texas for the trip and so I had to buy for everyone. We are going to be  fishing/camping for 3 nights. The most beer I’ve probably ever drank in any night after fishing all day is probably like 6. But who knows, one day I might drink 10, and if I do it one night, maybe I’ll do it every night. So three nights times 10 is 30 for just me. How much will the other guys drink? Well, maybe more than me because I’m kind of a light weight, so lets do 2 six packs per person per night so we never run out, so with 4 guys thats 2x4x3=24 six packs of beer. And not just any beer, only the best nice expensive craft beers for us (me). So I buy that much beer (actually more because what if the guys don’t like my Delerium Tremens? I’ll need a backup!). You see where this is going. The beer equivalent of a closet full of shoes. And like the closet full of shoes, not much of the beer was “used”. Like maybe 1/3 (which I bet is abouth percentage of shoes my wife owns that she wears in any given year). And also like shoes, they wouldn’t all fit in the cooler (closet). I had to find other places to store them while I waited to use them. Or not use them as it turned out. Good news was I had beer for the next 6 months! Now extend that to basically everything, but especially food, extra rods, and flies. So it’s no wonder it takes me the better part of a week just to get ready for one of these trips and my truck and trailer are totally packed with mostly unnecessary stuff. And the worst part is when you go and another buddy shoes up with his trailer. And he as something cool that you don’t. You think “man, I need one of those gas powered margarita machines for my trailer. But I should probably  get two in case one breaks….”

So guys, when you look in your closet trying to find a place to put one of your 6 pairs of shoes and can’t find a spot because of your significant others 500 pairs of shoes, resist the temptation to exclaim “do you really need all of these stupid shoes”. Because one day she might be trying to find something in the garage and shout out “whats with all the damn fly rods” or bicycles, or hockey gear, or power tools, or golf clubs (heaven forbid!), or whatever hobby you massively overbuy for. Because most everyone overbuys something. Come on, admit it. You know you do.

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