Andre and me on a boat

Andre and I, we went on a fishing trip last weekend, just the two of us. We hadn’t spoken since his grandmother’s funeral. I guess he needed time to grieve. Things had just gotten really bad between us, it was like every time we got together we’d start to bicker, things would escalate, slowly, steadily, until one of us lost our cool and, you know, that would be it, we wouldn’t speak again for weeks, months.

It must have gotten weird with our extended group of friends, because my buddy Cliff told me, “Hey Rob, look Andre wants to make amends, but he’s really nervous, with everything that’s gone down. Anyway, he wanted me to invite you upstate, a nice little fishing trip, you guys can like, you know, rekindle your friendship.”

And I thought, wow, that’s pretty deep. But I only thought that for a second. Because then another thought replaced that first thought, and that new thought was this: no way Andre sent Cliff over to invite me upstate. It’s probably the larger group of friends, all of them deciding that they need us to settle things, to make it easier for the whole group to hang out, and so they drew straws and Cliff got picked to come to me, telling me Andre sent the invite, and then he’d go to Andre, and say that I sent the invite.

Everybody’s seen this episode before. We’d be sitting on that little fishing boat, just the two of us in the middle of some big lake. And we’d both be fishing at opposite ends of the boat, not looking at each other, not saying anything, both of us with really grumpy looking expressions on our face. And finally, just as the silence becomes too unbearable, we’d both say simultaneously, “Well aren’t you going to apologize? What? Me? You! Why did you even invite me on this fishing trip? What? Me invite you? You invited me!”

And classic Andre, he always has this way of turning every situation to his advantage. Regardless of how clever I think I am, how I’m usually able to sweet talk my way out of any situation, Andre always manages to get in my head, his verbal jumping jacks. So I figured, I see where this is going, I might as well try to embrace the deception. Andre thinks I’m setting this whole thing up, well, at least one of us will know the truth, one of us will have the upper hand.

I’m talking about me, obviously, with the upper hand. That was my plan anyway. We got on the boat, I let him stew for a little bit, and finally I broke the silence with, “Andre, look, I brought you up here because, well, this is kind of hard for me to say, but I wanted to apologize.” And I really had to stop myself from throwing in my customary, “because I wanted to be the bigger person,” because even though it’s true, even though I was being the bigger person, that’s how these things usually unfold. I figure, this time, actions, not words. Or, not actions exactly, but more subtle words. More clever. Cleverer. I know I’m the bigger person. So I don’t have to go flaunting it.

“What are you talking about,” Andre shot back, “I sent Cliff over to you because you never answer my calls. I set this whole trip up.” Which sounded like a bunch of baloney. I always take Andre’s calls. I always take all of my phone calls. Andre just wanted to get Cliff involved, to get everybody involved, to show off, to show me up, and now I was getting upset, and I wasn’t even thinking this stuff in my head anymore, I was saying it out loud, “You just wanted the rest of the group to think you’re being the bigger person, that you’re the one always making amends. At least I showed up to your grandma’s funeral. You didn’t even call me when my grandma died!”

Which wasn’t true. Andre totally came to my grandma’s funeral. I didn’t even know why I said that, it was because I was so angry I guess. And Andre didn’t say anything either. I guess he knew that, at that point anyway, it was stupid to even try to say anything else. Because who knew what I was capable of saying next?

But the worst part was, the whole me telling him that I wanted to apologize, that was only part one of my plan. After we had made amends, I wanted us to have a little laugh, something funny, funny but natural, like an organic, bonding type of laugh. So I bought this magnetic fishhook. The idea is to use the magnetic fishhook to attract your friend’s fishhook, and then you start reeling it in, slowly. Your friend thinks he has a bite and starts pulling, and you keep fighting it out for a while, until you realize that your hooks are hooked together, and that was supposed to be the organic laugh, we’d have made amends, and then we’d see the hooks, and it was supposed to be like, look, we’re hooked together, and we would have laughed and laughed and realized how silly we were being.

But nothing was happening, it wasn’t attracting. So I kept reeling in and casting out again, really close to the boat, over and over again, getting more and more frustrated. And then I turned to Andre and he was doing the same thing, in and out, over and over again, and I was like, wait a second. I looked at his back pocket, sticking out was the same packaging, the same, “Magnetic Trick Fishhook” wrapper, the hooks must have been repelling each other. And I was thinking, Jesus Andre, you unoriginal jerk, you can’t just let me have one trick fishhook gag? You really just can’t let me have one real, genuine moment, can you?