Philip Weiss,

Philip Weiss,

A weeklong electronic journal.
Aug. 6 1998 3:30 AM

Philip Weiss,

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

       I called my wife this morning, not having spoken to her in a week, and gave her the news: I caught a fish in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. My wife has long contended that I have anti-fishing karma and can't catch them. Till Monday night, when I threw the line into Dovre Lake on a whim and hauled out a big northern pike, she was right.
       "Was it a fair fight?" she asked.
       "How could it be a fair fight?"
       "Well, did you catch it with your hands?"
       "I used a lure."
       "That doesn't sound like a fair fight to me. Did you eat it?"
       "I did."
       My wife is always on the side of the fish, she says. Part of this is otherworldly; she's a Pisces and feels some kinship, or finship, with our watery cousins. More important, she says, and I believe her, is that she likes animals and plants more than she likes most people. I like minerals more than that person, she will say. (I've begun to collect my wife's sayings and aspire to be her Boswell.)
       My wife and I don't have kids, in some real part because she values minerals more than people, and when I come to Minnesota I'm keenly reminded of the consequences of our choice. I lived here for years, and the people I know here are involved with a community through their children and socially productive jobs. They have a sense of purpose and a detached view of doings in Washington, D.C. Sitting up with four Minnesotans till 1 this morning, I was aware that I take Monica Lewinsky far too seriously. If I don't watch it, I will fritter my life away buying antiques and gossiping. (The Minnesota artist formerly known as Prince once sang about this values clash. "All the critics love you in New York!" he said caustically.)
       My wife wants me to get back tonight in time for her sister's birthday party in Manhattan. But I've done way too much socializing to imagine rushing back to Manhattan for more.
       Besides, I'm still caught up with that fish on Dovre Lake. The northern eyed me from the rock I'd dragged it up on with malevolence and respect, and for a minute there he and I had a complete, wordless rapport that excluded all others. Suddenly this was no whim. A northern pike is an awesome creation. Its flat, long-jawed head looks like a dinosaur's. Its body is sleek and aggressive. Its dark green tail fin is streaked with scarlet. I was overcome by the consequences of my actions. Such a magnificent, noble creature! Who was I to destroy it when we had plenty of nuts in the food sack?
       Right then I acted in the savage, respectful moment and reached for a rock. I don't think I'll tell my wife about that mineral.