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The making of a magical moment
Thanks to a friend's kindness, a young boy gets to tie into a big one
J'Rrett Baker stands tentatively with his first fish, courtesy of a fishing trip from Phil Paradis.  
In my younger and wilder days, when I was courting the Hawaiian princess, I enjoyed putting a boat (re: inflatable raft) in the water and taking a turn at sea (re: a slow-moving stream).
From time to time, a form of fishing was also involved.
But, you know how it goes -- got married, had kids, moved to the valley, got a job, had kids...had kids...discovered the joys of the couch, and then had kids.
Anyway, that's a long way around Robin Hood's barn to say that the last time I was on the water, with a fishing pole in my hand, was on my honeymoon 17 years ago.
Funny story -- After our wedding at the Hawaiian princesses hut on Maui, we went out on a snorkeling trip to Molokini, an extinct volcano that's now a national game preserve. As the boat started to motor out of the bay, we were told that for a nominal fee, they'd throw a line in the water and we'd troll on the way out to snorkel.
So, flush with honeymoon joy, I joined three other hearty "Gilligans" in putting some cash down and was assigned rod 4.
If you got a bite, they'd shout "four" and you'd come running. That way you didn't have to watch your pole, you could go around the ship (which was a good size) and do what you do when on a ship on the water.
We're about a quarter of the way to the dive site when -- "four, four, four" sounded through the vessel.
In a nutshell, I ran like a maniac to the pole. I'm ready to strap in like Quint in the movie "Jaws" and battle this monster for hours. Pull then reel, pull then reel, pull then reel, was going through my head. I mean, I'm ready to do battle, land this marlin, and be proclaimed big boy of the boat.
I grabbed the pole and gave a pull -- and the fish jumped out of the water and shot toward the boat. Through an adrenaline rush and visions of a record catch, I'd almost pulled the poor thing into the boat with one tug. My "marlin" turned out to be a little tuna that probably had a heart attack as it cleared the water. So that was the last time I'd had a rod in the water.
That was the story I told fellow WHS alum Phil Paradis at our 25th reunion a few weeks ago. Phil's an outdoor guy and owns Paradise Guide Service these days and I could tell my story provoked a strong emotion in him -- disgust I think it was. Worse yet, I admitted I'd never taken my son fishing in his life. My son's half Hawaiian for crying out loud, and he'd never touched the slimy skin of a freshly gutted trout.
Looking back, I'm a bit surprised Phil didn't backhand me across the tables at Abby's, shouting "Communist dog," over my slumped, pathetic body.
Instead, Phil said "Pick a day and I'll take you and your son out."
So that's what we did. We picked a day last week. J'Rrett and I sprung to life at 3:45 a.m., got on the road by 4 a.m. (Only men could do that!), and arrived in the Warrenton/Hammond area on the coast about 6:30 a.m. By 7 a.m. we were on the water and fishing.
Here's what's great -- my son, who had virtually never been on the water before, steadily changed from a nervous Nick to an excited Ed and then a pumped-up Paul. I've got to thank Phil for that, as well as his friend Butch. They kidded my son, showed him how to handle the rod and reel, then simply told him he could do it -- and that's what he did.
I sat around like a lump, wondering if wearing shorts had been smart, and eventually pondered the inevitability of peeing in a small red bucket onboard.
Fortunately, I caught the first fish. We had to let him go because he was a native, but I also got the second one -- a Coho keeper. I thought it was big, but as it turned out, my son would end the day with a biggie.
Phil's rod tugged violently and he turned right to my son and said "J'Rrett, come here and catch this one."
And that's what my son did. Tucked the rod under his little arm, reeled like a madman, and landed that sucker. Truth is, I was so proud I couldn't believe it. I tried to get a picture, but screwed that up, too.
What a day, though. Out on the water in Phil's cool boat, my son and I taking fish home to mom (The Hawaiian princess must have her seafood), and plenty of memories to last for years.
A couple of developments -- Yes, I did use the pee bucket. The second time on my knees because midway through the first use, I looked up and realized that there were many fisherfolk out on the water with us. I certainly could see them, soooo.
My son barely touched the fish he caught at first. The aforementioned slime factor weighing heavily into it, though Phil did get him to hold it by the gill and body after we'd docked. A big development.
It's funny, but how do you thank someone who went out of their way to help you help your son experience something new and exciting. Mmmm, perhaps this might help. If you'd like to learn more about Phil Paradis and Paradise Guide Service, check out his web site at www.paradiseguideservice.com .
While his professionalism was most appreciated, I think what impressed me most was how he helped my unsure son morph into a rod-totting, fish catching, wave hopping young man. For that alone I can't thank him enough.
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