A Joke About a Father and a Son on a Fishing Trip

A father and a son are on a boat, fishing. The father says to the son, "Son, we’re going to catch a lot of fish today." And the son says, "yeah, Dad." This is before the invention of laptops, portable radios, and television; or, at least, it could have been, because all he father and son have for entertainment is watching the poles and waiting for some sort of action.

"Is mine moving," the son asks.

"No," the father says, "The boat’s just going a little too fast. See? There. Nothing."

The night before, father and son visited a store made for the sale of goods that were once necessary for survival and that were now considered sporting. The son has trouble imagining the sports that need handguns, armpit holsters, and giant plastic deer. There is a section for the sport of fishing too - it has little hooks, big hooks, lures, and a steel mallet shaped like a short, thick baseball bat. The mallet feels heavy in his hands.

"That’s an educator," his father says with a chuckle that shows his uneven teeth. The son turned the little baseball bat over and the price tag said "Fish Knocker" in someone else’s handwriting. The son has uneven teeth, too.

So, there they are on the boat, father and son, watching their rods.

"Is mine moving," the son asks.

"No," the father says.

What happens, thinks the son, when we catch a fish?

I will have to knock it.

I will have to educate it.

I will have to drag it from the water with an old, torn up net, and pull out its medium sized hook, and I will have to bash it over the head to show my dad that I can, or else my dad will have to educate my fish for me.

I hope it will look away.

"Is mine moving," the son asks.

Later that day, father and son eat lunch with their bare, dirty sea hands. The father has a ham and swiss, the son has a turkey and swiss. The son wonders if his turkey was educated.

"Michael," says the father, "I think I’ve got one. Look."

"Is yours moving?"

"Reel it in for me," the father says with his eyes, and so the son goes to the rear of the boat, to the plastic tube that holds the rod. He yanks out the rod, and he starts reeling, and he tugs and pulls, and he fights with his life to get the fish to the side of the boat; thinking, I will have to educate it. But the son is brave, and he does his father proud; he gets the fish up to the side of the boat, within netting distance - within knocking distance - and his father looks over at him.

"I don’t know what to do," says the son, throwing up his arms. The father jumps over, takes control as the son stands in the opposite corner, watching. First the father gets the net, but the fish is putting up too much of a fight for one man – it’s a big fish – and so his hand goes to his home made knocker. The knocker goes up; over the fish, over the boat, over the father’s head, getting ready to knock some sense into a giant salmon. The son holds his breath.

"Dammit," says the father, hand still in the air. "It squirmed off of the hook."

"Oh, really," says the son, breathing again.

"Sorry," says the father, shrugging.

About the author:

Michael Spier is an unshorn sheep. Michael Spier is a broken kaleidoscope. Michael Spier is not a metaphor, he is a literal, physical incarnation of these things. Michael Spier is also an undergraduate student at Western Washington University. He lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife and two dogs.