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Looking Foolish

Mingus Pa

I like explaining things to people. It’s probably why I‘m in the teaching profession. But sometimes when you don’t know what you are talking about explaining things can make you look foolish. Sometimes even wild animals get involved.

When I was in high school in Coos Bay, Oregon, I took my little sister, Jo Ann to Mingus Park Lake to feed the ducks. We took some stale bread and were having a great time throwing it to the ducks. These lovely white ducks were quite tame and before long they were taking the bread crumbs from Jo Ann’s hands. Now there were some mallard ducks in the area, and Jo Ann approached them saying, “Here ducky ducky,” while extending her crumb laden hand.

“Now, Jo Ann,” I pontificated, “Those are wild ducks. They won’t take bread from your hand. See the white are tame ducks, those colored ducks are wild and they won’t take bread from your . . . dang it!”

I’m sure there are other cases, but the next one that comes to mind was several years later when I was teaching at Louisiana State University-Shreveport. It happened while I was fishing with my then seven year old son, Joel.

You need to understand what fishing with a seven year old involves. Mostly it’s untangling line and changing lures. This particular day we were on a small lake in East Texas. I had a small kayak and we were fishing from it, without much success. After one or two unsuccessful casts, Joel would demand a different lure. I’d change it. When he asked for a Tiny Torpedo, I refused. “That lure won’t work on a windy day,” I said. He insisted, I refused. We fished a while unsuccessfully. After unsuccessfully trying several other lures, he renewed his request for the Tiny Torpedo.

“All right!” I said as I tied it on. “But I’m telling you it won’t work.”

He cast. “The reason it won’t work,” I explained, “is because the Tiny Torpedo is a top water lure. It works well when the water is calm but today the water is rough because of the wind and . . . damn it!”

Fish gave its life to make a fool of me.

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