We weren’t opposed to fishing

Published 2:44 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2021

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You can’t spend as much time spinning words as I do without also finding fun in listening to the language. 

And if you listen closely, you will hear some of the most interesting things.  Not just rumors, gossip, and outright lies, but—maybe more importantly—just how often we can all be just a little off-center with your word choices. And just how much fun that can be. I have the best time listening to my three grandchildren.   The oldest is an absolute whiz, the middle is just old enough that be is beginning to show his chops, and the youngest is just beginning his babbling stage.   

It is fascinating listening to their word development.  The word that gets my funny bone tickled the most these days is “opposed”.  Oh, not in the sense of “I am opposed to the latest tax hike.” 

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No, they use it far more creatively than that.  “Papa, we can’t go down to the creek without someone taking our hand. Mama said not to.  We are not opposed to!”  Little ears have replaced “supposed” with “opposed”, and it’s just so darned endearing that I can’t bring myself to correct them.  Besides, any time I hear the word “Papa” my heart melts just a little. Fun with words isn’t just for the little ones.

My older brother and I used to fish together.  I cared more for the time spent with him than I did the time fishing.  And that was fortunate because  he was the sort of fisherman who could catch a five-pound bass in a tub full of rainwater caught off a desert hacienda, and I was the sort of fisherman who was lucky to find a fish in a fish market.  But fishing is what we did together, and I wouldn’t take anything for the time we spent on the water.

He and I hatched this idea.  One of the coldest days  of winter was on us, but the day was bright, and overhead was what he called a bluebird sky.  And we were bored. He looked at me, I looked at him.  We decided to go fishing.  We put on all the clothes we had, hooked the boat up, and off to West Point lake we went.  Nobody ever said that fishing made you smart.

We knew we’d made a mistake as soon as the whipping winds greeted us at the dock, but we were not ready to give up.   

We put in, ran directly across the to our favorite fishing hole, stopped the boat, fished for about thirty seconds, realized our mistake, and high-tailed it across the lake.

You’ve never seen someone get a boat out of the water so fast.  I could almost hear the fish chuckling at us.  We turned the Jeep’s heater on high, and then we laughed all the way home.  We told that story to each other more times than I can count.

Why am I mentioning it?  All the way to the lake, he kept saying that it was going to be copacetic.  The educated man that I am, I listened politely, did not tell him that “copacetic” was not a word, and just kept driving. I’d heard people use that non-word a lot lately; somehow it just became the thing to say locally.

After we got home, being the word lover that I am, I decided to look it up.   I was going to find some careful way to break the news to him—maybe in our next warm-weather fishing trip.

What do you think I found out?  “Copacetic” is a word.  It means “fine, okay, or satisfactory”.  Not only was it a word, he was using it correctly.

I never told him that part of the story. I was a little too embarrassed.  His big old heart, already damaged, just got worse and worse, and I think that was our last fishing trip. 

I still miss him every day.

That’s okay. I may not have known that “copacetic” was a word, but then again, maybe I was not opposed to.