When we celebrated my thirty fourth birthday, I was working at Lamar University as an instructor and writing my dissertation. Both time and money were tight, but I still found time and resources to take Joel, then about five, fishing. We would drive down to Sabine Pass and fish in the Gulf from a pier. We almost always caught something, brought it home, cleaned it and Becky would cook it for our dinner.
For my birthday that year Becky and the Kids bought me a filleting knife. (I still have it.) Joel pestered and pestered me wanting to give me just a little hint about what my present was going to be. I discouraged him.
“Son, if you give me a hint, I’ll probably figure out what it is, and then it won’t be a surprise.”
He insisted he could give me just one hint that wouldn’t give it away.
Finally I relented. “OK, but just one.”
“It’s something you clean fish with.”
I’m sure glad it was subtle.