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The one true thing is the long gravel road, although it was really a private driveway onto an estate. This is more or less the story I told my daughter, my two sons, and my three grandsons. One of the many jobs I had while going through college and raising my daughter, who was probably five years old at the time, was cleaning houses. This particular house was the former butler's house, separate from the mansion, surrounded by fields, and made of stone. The single, good-looking guy who lived there was a few years older than I and ran a successful fish market with his father in another town. Well, one thing led to another, and my daughter and I ended up living with him, with the promise of marriage. There were only about eight billion red flags, however I was in my twenties and ignored them.


The real story though is about going deep sea fishing, which was one of his hobbies. A friend of his who owned a yacht invited us to go fishing in the Gulf Stream. I didn't bring my daughter, thus ended up being the only female on board. It took hours to get to the right place, where suddenly fish were flying, birds were swooping, and the water was warmer. No land in sight, no other boats or ships or yachts. It was unsettling, but I chose to focus on the feeling of aliveness that hung above the trail of green. The men started getting their fishing gear ready and drinking beer. Anchored, they set about casting. Now I had learned to fish in Maine in a bay, in an old rowboat, with a drop-line. Using fishing reels like these men owned was not something I had ever done, which I made the mistake of mentioning.


Next thing I knew they were forcing me into this chair and strapping me in. (At this point my daughter gave me the keep-it-PG-13-Mom look.) So I explained it was a special chair, designed to keep me safe, in the unlikely event I caught a large fish. I was handed a Mercedes Benz of a fishing rod, given minimal instructions, and the guys had more beer. Time passed, none of the guys even got a nibble and they started talking about moving to another location. I felt like I was getting sunburned, then felt a tug on my line. I mentioned it to someone, who excitedly exclaimed it looked like a marlin. All I knew was I started feeling not so safe, even though the chair was bolted to the deck. They babbled deep sea fishing jargon that might as well have been Klingon, grabbed more beer, watched and coached for what seemed like hours. My arms hurt, my back hurt, my sun burn hurt, and the marlin fought the good fight.


(At this point in telling the story, one grandson interrupted, to ask why no one helped me. One of my sons asked what I was trying to prove. I said I didn't know, at the time.) What happened next was the marlin started to tire; I was barely able to reel it closer, but as I did the owner of the yacht said it was roughly a 275 lb. baby marlin. He told his first mate to get a hook and club, told me he would pay me for it, so he could stuff it and hang it in his restaurant. I remember asking what the club and hook were for, not liking the answer. The marlin was now about twenty feet away, so I saw it iridesce, lavender, blue, green, gold, figured I was hallucinating from exhaustion. I was told that was the color of fear. In that moment, I knew for certain that marlin would not be hanging, mounted on anyone's restaurant wall. I asked the guy who had gotten me into this trip if I could release it. He said yes, which angered the rest of them, but I didn't care.


My hands were bleeding, but it was from the tug of war with the marlin, which I gently dislodged the hook from its mouth and watched swim away. I never fished again. (My younger son accused me of making the whole story up, and I said no, I've got back X-rays that show the disc that was damaged. Still not believing me, he took out his smartphone and asked for the guy's name who I almost married, which I told him. He found him on mugshots.com, a convicted felon, with four aliases.) Totally surprised, I looked and said, "Yes, that's him". My middle grandson said, "Well, I just learned a lot more about Grandma and dating."