Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Fly-fisherman and His Superstitions

I have gotten a lot of grief from my wife and other close associates about the condition, appearance and general state of my favorite fishing shirt. I got it last year off the clearance rack at Target, so it's nothing fancy--just a white, 100% linen button-down. It, at least, started out white.

Since I first wore it out fishing, it has become my almost "always-gotta-wear-it" shirt. It has two handy pockets up top that are big enough for a small flybox, but not too big that they're baggy or loose when loaded. I don't use a fishing vest or chest pack, just an old, olive-drab canvas South African military bag (a whole separate post). That bag, when wet, oozes 70 years of grime, grit, and grossness that ranges from brown to...well, brown. After I first wet-waded up to my armpits one day, I noticed a horrible and very large stain on the bottom/back of the shirt. I figured it was mud from sitting stream-side, but it didn't wash off. The stain grew each trip I got wet and I finally concluded it was from my bag slowly cleaning itself on my shirt.

Since then, the stain has deepened, grown, faded slightly around some of the edges and generally has become a mature, well-worn-in stain. It has grown an appendage that reaches up and over my shoulder, presumably from the strap. Dots of rust spatter over the right side from the ancient steel fasteners, clasps and whatever else on that bag.

The collar is eternally blackened in spots from an equally old and rotting set of neoprene Chums for my sunglasses--I won't get rid of those either. There are multiple spots/spatters/wipes of blood on the shirt; they were each once redder and brighter, but have now darkened to that dried, reddish-brown color that war movies never really get around to showing. Some of it's mine, some from various fish, but it's all permanent for sure.

In short, I deserve the grief I get for the shirt, and I probably should have washed it more frequently. If I had, it probably wouldn't bear the camouflaged-look it's starting to have now; but I let all the stains really set up house and they aren't going anywhere now.

I had a good rationale for not letting it ever get to the washing machine: that'd be bad luck. Of course. There was a streak where I would catch little to nothing wearing that shirt "clean." It didn't take long for me to conclude that there was something metaphysical residing in that shirt and its stains. Washing it could bring nothing but unfortunate things.

It isn't that I think the shirt is good luck (I don't believe in good luck), it's that I believe in a sort of sub-superstitious way that washing it is bad luck. It is really just a statistical conclusion born out of a pattern of experiences and the belief that there is more to this life and world than I can possibly ever understand, and I know that washing that shirt is a bad thing. It disturbs something in the fish-world, or at least in the fishing-world. Whatever it is, I don't want to mess with it, disturb it, or take any chances. ...just don't wash the shirt. Besides, it's not as if I'm trying to win any girls' affections or a fashion contest out there in the water; I'm there to fish and, hopefully, bring a few to hand while I do.

Anyone else have superstitions or the like? I seriously doubt I'm alone....

1 comment:

  1. That is THE MOST mojo'd out shirt there ever was. I don't feel right fishing with you unless you are wearing it, that's for sure.