Fishing for Change

“Are you tired of not catching that fish you know is hiding from you?” the inventor of “The Flying Lure” asks on TV.

Leaning forward in my chair, knowing full well that I have never gone fishing in my life, I talk back to the screen, “Yes, I am! More tired than you know.” A six inch chartreuse flying lure is then shown catching a 7 pound small mouth bass, a 35 pound monster muskie, and the alleluias of the ecstatic fishermen:

“I’m tickled pink,” exclaimed one weathered angler, “Something I can finally put in my tackle box that works!” says another.

Do fishermen really talk like this? I’m skeptical until the inventor looks directly into the camera and says reverently and with a straight face, “I was told I was crazy to quit my job in computers, but I had a dream to pursue the flying lure.” He dangles the lures in front of his chest and says the magic words, “Every once in awhile something comes along that changes your life.”

That’s it. I stand up and call out from my chair, “Not often enough…not nearly often enough!” I begin scanning the room for my bag and wallet.

The hook is in my cheek and miraculously, ridiculously, inexplicably, this non-angler is being reeled to the phone to buy a $29.95 flying lure in sixteen bodies and assorted colors that promises to change my life. My desire to molt has struck before: make-up make-over “systems”, thirty-day tape programs for “unlimited success”, tapes that promise “easy weight loss” through subliminal messages.

Today, my Visa card is in one sweaty hand as I dial the 800 number and see the elusive striped bass swimming in his deep dark salt water for the last time—just as I saw myself looking glamorous, successful, and thin with the previous calls. As I touch-tone my way to transformation, the number flashes on the screen, and the inventor says, “The Flying Lure offers ‘Total Lure Control’.” Now, nothing has offered me that in a totally long time. Reel me in…my clogged arteries are in motion, the blood is flowing.

The salt solution in our blood may be the physical evidence of our ocean roots, but our psyche is scored as well. We are as capable of being lured by artificial bait as any self-respecting swordfish swimming today. We need look no further for evidence of this evolutionary ladder than the Infomercials on TV that net millions of our dollars each year.

The lures of re-creation are packaged as skin creams, eyeliners, psychics, golf lessons, motivational tapes, exercise machines, juicers, food dehydrators, and then, they are dangled into our faces and trolled leisurely in 30 minute intervals designed to capture those of us hardened to the antiquated 60 seconds of come-on. “Heal your past, plant your future, reap your destiny with Tad’s system of living the full life,” the evangelical announcer promises….”I lost 103 lbs and can tell you from the bottom of my heart that Kathy and her weight-loss system saved my life,” says a middle-aged man whose before and after pictures stare out from the screen….”I used Victoria’s make-up system, and for the first time in my life someone in work commented on how nice I looked,” whispers a woman, her carefully made-up eyes glistening with tears.

We’re sophisticated, world weary swimmers in need of fishermen who know our ways, our feeding positions, our particular school and travel patterns, and, more importantly, our fears and impatience to become something, even someone else. No simple night-crawler will do. We require more cerebral enticements these days, the lure cannot simply drop in front of us like a conventional pogy to a bluefish; it has to have a variety of approaches, encyclopedic and scientific, neurolinguistic, environmentally correct and judicious, all natural and organic is the artificial lure that promises transformation and metamorphosis for the future.

The lures have to go where we are hiding, talk to us directly about our own individual angst.  We are like trout beneath a rocky ledge. We are hiding in our fears of who we are and what we have become, and who and what we are likely to remain; but, unlike the trout, we want to be caught, to be hooked; in fact, we await the bait that is inventive enough to find us. Do we want to look, feel, act like this for the rest of our life? The lures are staggering and versatile; if we back up, they go in reverse and come around the side. They find us resting low over sand bars, singular, or in schools in ocean depths. They do not simply sink to the bottom; they wink at us in early morning, coax and cajole us Saturdays, Sundays, late at night. They know we are more vulnerable outside of prime time.

Lures troll with the ultimate artificial technology of television: cycles of electricity that transmit the illusion of still pictures as continuous motion, images and sound traveling at near speeds of light through air, space, and coaxial copper cable until they finally find us—pulsating with fears, brooding our futures, and owners of small plastic cards that jump out of our wallets like minnows when the right enticement comes along.

The lures tell us dial and do, dial and finally do something about our insatiable, maybe biological, impulse to shed ourselves, our imperfections, and disappointments.

I press the “off” button on the phone decisively with new confidence, and anticipate the brown UPS truck that will get to my door with “The Flying Lure” in a few days. I’ll sign my name on the delivery slip. And, only then, when I smile sheepishly at the man giving me the package, will I know that somehow, somewhere in the tangle of my dreaming neurotransmitters, I have once again been reeled in the old fashioned way: hook, line, and sinker.

©Pat Coakley 2008


2 comments on “Fishing for Change”

  1. One might say “What’s the catch?” or the obvious “Hook, line and no sinker?”.
    Sorry I couldn’t resist!

  2. Hey, Chip! Welcome! I actually used the hook line and sinker line at the very end of this essay! You have to click on Read On to see the whole thing. But, whats the catch? is not bad, either! Toodles.

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