There are times in life when we hear the prospect of soft adventure beckoning our name from a distance. We can either choose to ignore those far off reverberations and temper that missed opportunity with the excuse that instead of “soft adventure” we thought we heard the phrase “short indenter” echoing and had no idea what that meant; or we can relish every opportunity to feel the wind whipping in our hair or over our hat as it were and grab the metaphorical ram by his shofars and ride his woolen back to the place where legends are made. This weekend a crew of young men heard the cry of “soft adventure” screaming their name and followed that enchanting howl to the shores of Port Jefferson, Long Island. Those men were we and when we men arrived on those shores, there be a boat waiting that promised a “Celtic Quest.”
We weren’t sure if we’d be seeing Faeries and far off Glens or getting to use our acquired knowledge of Colloquial Welsh, but we were all for whatever type of journey awaited us.
Rather than stand in awe of the seafaring beast, we hopped aboard it’s broad shoulders armed with alcohol, sandwiches, and various snacks to feel the thrill one derives from harvesting the fruit of the ocean that is ripe for the plucking. At Noon on a Saturday the motion of the ocean grabbed a hold of our floating vessel aided by a wily captain in control of a motor and standing at a twirly wheel. He guided us out to sea and a crew of professional ocean quest guides equipped us with rods and reels for perfect for catching fish and equally adept in serving as props for immature innuendo.
Wielding our tools with the familiarity of someone fresh off a gender reassignment surgery, we plunged our lines to the depths of the ocean floor hoping to get a few nips at the clams that were disguising the sharp metal objects that we were attempting to drive through the visage of those whose marine peace we were so rudely disturbing in a quest for an evening’s dinner.
The first one to come up with any gill-breathing, spiny, scaly saltwater taffy was the one they call Rob P. He served up a fluke that was no such thing on the end of his line. Unsure of its lengthy qualification we unfastened him from the cruel hook that pierced him and tossed him back to the sea, holey cheek and all.
Several minutes later I felt a tug on my line and just like that was forced into battle with my reeling right hand as it shall now be known. My hand furiously circling in concert with my wrist, that old familiar motion that while giving me a perplexing feeling of deja vu also filled me with a exhilarating rush that one only gets through the exploration of the uncharted. Pulling and churning with a medium amount of might, I fought my underwater adversary until I could look into his eye. It was not he who pulled me into the deep green something past the mermaids, sharks, and algae; but I who wrested him from his habitat to breathe in the salty air of my victory.
When I looked at him struggling on that curved metal question mark, I was almost certain that my victory at sea would eventually hit the plane of someone’s taste buds in the next few days in fillet form. However, the one they call Rob P deemed it “too small.” Unsure of where I’d heard that before, I cursed his opinion abiding it nonetheless. It was back to the confines of Davy Jones’ locker. This water-based creature whom I had so rudely pulled out of school would bear my scar or life…or at least until he met someone else’s clam-enveloped hook in a matter of minutes.
Having experienced victory whilst among my fellow mates, I retired to the upstairs deck to revel in their company and take in beers made in the image of the king. The sweet nectar had my crew and I in high spirits. For one of us was to wed within the fortnight and would have little reason to be in high spirits ever again. This was his glorious moment in time, unshackled to the ball and chain, left to breathe that pungent ocean air that smelled of freedom and alternately tasted of salt & vinegar chips and Slim Jim. It was the last day for Ahmad to be a man and the only way to be that man he was destined to be was to seduce the waves by flailing his rod over its surface and taunting those beneath with the prospect of a good tug of war…a war he and everyone else in our crew of temporary longshoremen would ultimately win.
And so it went, a four-hour outing locked in the eternal struggles that have been written and spoken of in volumes throughout time. Man versus Poseidon; Man versus Fish; Man versus food. A Celtic Quest for the ages that will live on for ages in the hearts, minds, and souls of the bachelors and the betrothed who hath witnessed it.