"Izit hot nuff fer ya?"
This is the type of rhetorical question that keeps me going.
Talking about the weather is usually a surefire way to have a conversation without actually having a conversation. It has very little chance to backfire on you and end in a lengthy reply.
Kind of like asking someone how they are and getting a verbal novella that is as uplifting as an old country western song, when a simple 'okay' was all you were half-heartedly looking for from their reply.
Most people are like that. They are on the move, and if you see someone that is merely an acquaintance, it's a quick hello or upwards head nod, a fleeting rhetorical question followed by an equally rhetorical reply (for locals, something like 'see you in September') and off we go on our way. That is, except for older women. They will stop and talk about anything at all. They yap about gossip, grandchildren, gardening, Dr. Phil, or even the epic saga that is the Ocean Pines Association. Usually it's in the middle of the grocery store, when you are in a rush. I've seen ladies break up from their Aisle 8 pow-wows and show a look of dismay that made it quite obvious that they didn't like each other very much in the first place. Does the older generation merely have enough time to sit and have non-rhetorical conversation, or do they actually mean it wholeheartedly when they ask, 'how are you doing?'
Conversations in loud public places are also very funny to watch. They lean into the others' ear and yell short and usually illegible phrases into the other's ears. For the most part, the other person nods and then takes turns yelling a rather short and mostly illegible phrase into the other person's ears.
These are summer conversations: Very lighthearted, rhetorical, and lacking a whole lot of care or effort from either party. It's kind of the Ocean City way, and another reason why 'cheers', 'salud', and 'social' might be three of the most used words this time of year.
If you have nothing to say, just raise your glass.
Yet, this week, amidst the biggest billfish tournament in the world, the White Marlin Open, there is actually something to talk about around town. Even if like me, you know very little about fishing, the spectacle of this tournament is enough for non-rhetorical conversation.
The White Marlin Open is an event that not only brings ridiculous amounts of business and positive PR to this town, but it is also a carnival for the curious, offers potential eternal glory and a week of rockstar-like status for the anglers, and the obvious Mardi Gras type atmosphere on the piers at 14th Street.
I want to know how I score a bartending gig even for one night down there, so I can take a few months off and write a novel. It'll be about breaking into the recession proof business of slowly poisoning people with alcohol so that they will in turn tip you 20-40 percent on a consistent basis.
It will be a work of fiction and a self-help book at the same time.
It's amazing that people think that bartenders are dumb people or just people that didn't enjoy wearing a tie and having a 401K, when you realize that people like to consume booze almost as much as we Americans like to consume energy and oil.
As far as the fishing goes, this week was a photographer's dream. I hope you walked around and took some pictures of one of the coolest weeks to be in this town. Some of the things that you inevitably saw or will see will need tangible proof to be believed. It's a fish story that you'll need to attribute with some pictorials.
The spectacle of the boats going out on the wee hours of Monday, followed by the nightly weigh-ins are worth the parking headaches, traffic and anything else involved that can annoy you when it is this damn hot outside. It's got to be cool to actually watch someone be awarded a million dollars that they didn't have the day before.
Where else could you get to see someone win life changing money and for reeling in a fish the size of a shortbus?
I'm sure that the fishing community is similar to any other cliquey subculture. They stick with fishing people and those that are into all things that have to do with fish, boats or other related fishy activities. Much like golfers, or bikers, or those people that get off on restoring old cars, this week is like Woodstock, the Superbowl, and the lottery all mixed up into one for the fishing community.
Though I doubt I'll ever know the secret handshake or lack the funds, dimensions, or general female parts needed to get invited on a boat, I appreciate that they will let common folk like me join in on the party. Next week, I will think of fishing as something that my kid and I can do together (since we have both shown no real talent for kite flying) with his Darth Vader fishing pole and our equipment that would be lucky to catch a cold. Yet this week, anyone can dream of catching the big one and actually seeing people that can.
Then we can all go back to talking about the weather, and complaining about how stinking hot it is.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.