In July of 1997 I took three friends up north to a place I call “the swamp”. The swamp is located in the McGregor, Minnesota area. It was the first time we had all camped together as a group, even though we have been friends for about two years. We met each other through our work. I chose “the swamp” because of the great bass and panfish fishing, as well as the fact that the people in that area of the state are really wonderful.
The first day was spent setting up camp and getting the boats ready for the next day\’s fishing adventure. It was an early night because we had left right after finishing work in Bloomington, Minnesota, and driven the four-hour trip straight through. The next morning we hit the lake hard and started fishing for bass. My buddy, Shemp, and I were having no luck with the bass, so we switched tactics and went after bluegills. Shemp, a very avid bass fisherman, was not too thrilled about the idea of chasing those wimpy sunfish until I pulled in about a 1-pounder that took drag from my ultralight. I was using a slip bobber rig set at about ten feet down with a worm.
Shemp immediately went to work. He quickly started fumbling about in his tackle box for his killer sunny rig and quickly tied on. The float he was using looked as if he had stolen it from a kid at the beach–some call them ‘beach balls\’. He did ask how deep and when I told him ten feet he began pulling line through the bobber and “snap!” A knot in the line had caught on the tension connector of that red and white grapefruit and it was all over. He sat down and bowed his head in disgust. Wapp! I laid into another huge bull and now Shemp was really mad.
Finally, he was all dialed up and ready to attack those hungry sunfish. His first casting attempt was not a good one due to the ten feet of line hanging beneath the monster bobber. The second try was even worse because that full-sized float smacked him on the back of his head upon release. Enough was enough. He chucked his wrapped-up conglomeration on the floor of his bass boat and cracked a beer. He fumed as he watched me fight another pounder down deep. I looked over at him while wiping the tears of laughter from my cheeks and offered him my pole to fish with while I set his up. He had a great time and did just fine after that.
The other two people in the group, Chris and Monica, were waiting on the dock when Shemp and I returned. They were very impressed with our catch and found the story of the fumbling fisherman very funny. Now the kicker. After a couple of hours of filleting and beer drinking we were ready for a fish fry. That went well because Chris and I have shared many fish fries and we wouldn’t let Shemp touch anything.
After the big meal we were all sitting by the fire, trying to recover from overeating and doing the ‘moan and groan\’ thing, when Shemp asked, “Anyone for dessert, since I didn’t help with the fry?” We all thought that dessert sounded good, so Shemp responded excitedly, “S’mores are coming right up!” Off he went into the bushes for the sticks. Snap! Crack! went the sticks, and he soon returned with a fine roasting tool fit for the job, sharpened at one end and ready to go. Chris, Monica and I were just relaxing by the fire awai
ting the tasty treat for about what seemed like forever when a very subtle, “Darn it!” came from behind us. I didn’t think too much of it and went on daydreaming about those nice hot s\’mores. Then came “What the ___!?!” a little louder this time. Turning around, I saw Shemp sitting on top of the picnic table with his roasting stick in one hand and half of a graham cracker in the other. While contemplating what he was doing, I spotted a stack of 1/4 pieces of graham crackers piled neatly beside him. Then it hit me about halfway through yelling, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
Tipping over in my lawn chair, I was laughing too hard to speak. It wasn’t long before Chris and Monica figured out why it was taking Shemp so long to brew us up a batch of s’mores. The poor guy was trying to put the graham cracker, the chocolate bar and the marshmallow all on the stick before roasting. Shemp was so embarrassed that he picked everything up and chucked it all in the fire and went to the bar. I wonder how he would have done with the chocolate bars if he had ever gotten that far….
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