When my friend Bruce handed me his fly rod, that unforgettable afternoon on the roof of our building on West 37th street, he assumed a professorial voice: “I’ll give you your first casting lesson, but beware Fleche, it’s a drug”.
Naif as I was, I thought that my friend had hit the Jack Daniels yet again. A drug? Flyfishing? What a joke!
Of course, dear readers, you are well placed to know just how right he was, my friend Bruce K. Poor me! Blinded by the excitement I ignored his warning and for many years (the most wonderful years of my youth) I thought of nothing else but flyfishing. Gone, the evenings of love with my wife. Night fishing become the the order of the day. And the long evenings spent hovering over my fly tying vice visualizing the dance of these devilish flies that I clumsily tied with my fingers that were transformed into irremediable, incontrovertible monsters! And our tiny household budget… I spent it like a drunken gambling addict at a Las Vegas roulette table. I was ashamed, of course, but that didn’t stop me. I was completely addicted to that horrible, diabolical substance: fly fishing.
I even forgot the most elemental corporal hygiene, I didn’t shave, I didn’t change my socks or underwear until the oder became unsupportable and made everyone avoid, me even my dog. And then one day I crossed the line. All my life I’ll remember my red-faced shame.
It was my wife’s birthday so I invited her to the nicest restaurant in town. For the occasion I had showered and changed my shirt. We were comfortably seated in an isolated corner, the music was soft as was the light from the chandeliers. My adorable wife wore a big smile when the waiter approached us and asked: “Would you like a drink before dinner?” I responded without thinking of the absurdity of my words: “For me, I’d like a barbless Martini”!
My wife’s smile froze and her face turned white as chalk; she took a calling card from her purse and handed it to me. On it was printed: “Doctor Olivenstein, Specialist in Addictions”.
I made an appointment for the next day. “You have to make a clean break. Cut the umbilical cord and get rid of all your fishing gear, that’s the first thing if you really want to surmount this problem.”
The next day at dawn I was at the confluence of the Ardeche and the Chassezac, with my fly boxes which I threw into the river without the slightest regret. And at that precise moment I saw it; the enormous trout of which I dreamed so many times. A wild trout the likes of which I had never seen, making waves as she savagely seized my box of flies that floated on the water. My God what a spectacle! What beauty! What insanity!
I jumped on my scooter and arriving home I locked myself in my studio. Now, what length of the deer hair did I use for that fly? What color was the body?
Today, I’m writing you from my bedroom in the Psychiatric Hospital in Limoges where they took me for emergency treatment. They say that the chances of my recovering are not great, but what do I care? At night, when everyone is asleep, knocked out with pills, with my eyes I stroke an old lure, number 12, that I hid in my the hem of my trousers and I’m very happy.