Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Great Weigh-In

One of the things I truly enjoy doing is attending events that allow me to experience some of the local culture to which I’m not familiar with. Yesterday, a friend of mine invited me to a ‘weigh-in’. My mind was thinking “you’re too thin to be doing weight watchers,” but what came out of my mouth was “what exactly is a weigh-in?”

“A fishing contest. People weigh the fish they catch for the contest. There are different categories, age groups and prizes for the fishermen,” she explained.

My thought process went something like this: “That really doesn’t sound like something fun to watch. But, she does seem excited about it so there’s gotta be something to it. Hey, Jesus hung out with fishermen, maybe I should too. It’s gonna be like 200 degrees outside, will there be air conditioning? I hope it’s not going to be stinky fishy smelling. Okay, I’ll go. Would you be totally embarrassed if I brought my camera and acted like a tourist?”

Then I imagined what this event might look like. I envisioned a wooden platform on a pier with men dressed in wool coats, wearing ties, standing next to a 10 foot tuna hanging from a scale, and holding a sign with the weight of the fish on it. Of course all of this was in black and white, just like all the old-school photographs hanging on the walls of the various seafood restaurants I’ve been to.

When we approached the parking lot I asked, “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but is this a redneck contest? I’d really like to experience something redneck.”

“Nah, this is fishermen stuff. You have to go more inland to see redneck stuff,” she said a little surprised by my question and probably thinking, “Dumb Yankee.”

The first thing I noticed upon approaching the event was the small metal bleachers that provided the only shade to us curious spectators. Naturally, I made a beeline for the bleachers. My first impression of the event was that it was much smaller and less organized than I anticipated it would be.

There was a table which the fishermen officially entered their catch and next to it a scale. To the right of the scales, there was a large white leader board displaying the top 8 leaders in the 4 categories: Kingfish, Dolphin, Wahoo and Juniors. Names were continually added and removed as the fish came in and were weighed.

After studying the leader board, I casually mentioned to my friend “I think it’s nice that the leaders name their fish.” My comment caused the man sitting next to me to chuckle.

“She’s not from around here,” my friend explained to the man.

“Those are the boat names,” she grinned.

“Oh,” I studied the board, “that would explain why some of the people share the same name.”

I have to admit, it didn’t take me long to get thoroughly engaged in what was happening around me. Maybe it’s my curious nature or just the fact that I’m easily amused. Whatever the reason, I had fun.

You’re probably wondering, what happened at the weigh in? Basically, fishermen pulled up to the docks, unloaded their catch and escorted their fish to the scales. A local radio host emceed the process and rallied the crowd into guessing the weights of the fish by handing out prizes to the best guessers. Now I pride myself on being a great guesser, but guessing answers to the question "Guess what?" is much more my forte than guessing weights. Much to my dismay, I walked away prizeless. Not that it was a bad thing cause I honestly have no use for fishing gear.

So what did I think of my first weigh in? I thoroughly enjoyed watching the anticipation on the fishermen’s face as they waited to see if their catch was the winner. It was fun to watch the kids try and hand off fish that were bigger than they were. It was definitely a great people-watching event.

I felt sorry for the fish though. I’m sure it’s because I had an aquarium in my office for 20 years. I secretly was happy when the winner of the contest flipped the fish over his back and the fish’s tooth gashed his ankle. “Yea, fish, way to get even.” I was also happy when no Wahoo’s were caught. “Way to go Wahoo’s for eluding all 200+ fishing boats.”

Will I attend another weigh in? I honestly don’t know.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Reason #152 Why Hands Free Devices Should be Required While Driving in Florida

You know the old saying, pictures speak louder than words. Well this photo doesn’t require a lot of words.

Old man driving + talking on cell phone = bye bye mail boxes.

All I can add is...good thing he was in a parking lot.