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Vo l . 7 N o . 1

Ron McFarland

The English Professor’s Last Fishing Trip

Professor T. Roland Wibbles, who liked to be called “TR” but whose detractors, including a few students and a couple of his younger colleagues in the department which was going to hell in the handbasket of critical theory, preferred to call “Dr. Wobbles,” was an inveterate and avid angler, which is not to say he was a remarkably successful one. His wife Florence liked to advise him to have a good time, and not to drown, and not to catch too many fish, and if he did, to please not bring any home, as neither of them cared for trout and trout was what he always caught. And yet, on those occasions when he got lucky, he could not resist bringing home two or three (at least) of the best specimens, which he would clean with some pretended gusto, bind up carefully in shrink-wrap and plastic bags, and consign to the freezer and oblivion for a year or two. On opening day he would head out for his favorite stream about an hour from town equipped with fly rod and spinning outfit (not being a purist), two beers, and a cigar, which stogie he intended to light up after he landed his first trout. Renaissance and 17th-century specialist that he was, Professor Wibbles regarded himself to be probably the only person in Idaho to have read Sir Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler (5th edition, 1676) and most likely the only person in the Northwest to have actually enjoyed it. He also admired Norman

Memorable Catch

Maclean’s novella, A River Runs through It, published on the tercentenary of the definitive sixth edition of Walton’s classic, ironically enough, inasmuch as Professor Maclean’s protagonist (Maclean himself) claimed no affection for Sir Izaak’s great literary monument. Maclean’s disesteem had much to do with milkmaids, Wibbles would inform his students, many of whom would be admirers of Maclean’s River and disesteemers themselves of Walton’s Angler. Every year Professor Wibbles would impose one edition or another of the 17th-century classic on his reluctant disciples, his “discipuli,” as he liked to call them, and every year they would file their complaints on his annual teacher evaluations and on, and every year he would avoid reading these “rants” as he called them. He had read and ignored the rants with great care until the date of his tenure, after which point he had “declined the pleasure,” as he informed his zoologist colleague, Ralph Cotton, who was a tournament bass fisherman. Disesteeming both trout and fly fishing, Professor Cotton was not inclined to join TR in his angling adventures; consequently, he usually went solo. When he thought about “the Angler,” which was often, Professor Wibbles reflected that he found the milkmaids a particularly attractive feature. Early in his courtship he had invited Florence to join him in his angling adventures, and she had come along exactly twice. The first time the yellow jackets drove her to distraction, she complained, and the second time she saw a snake and that was that. Now, at the age of 53, TR felt free to fantasize about Sir Izaak’s milkmaids, lusty young women of twenty- or thirty-something, fullbreasted, green-eyed blondes who loved good poetry, particularly John Donne’s racier elegies, and who were intellectually and spiritually starved for the companionship of an angler like himself. Sure, a middle-aged

Yuliya Helgesen-Thompson

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim