Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where'd these Goons come from?

Quick nap mid-day. The lodge was basic but covered
the basics-- shower, bed, food, a place to store the scotch
In the United States, the edges of civilization are far more civilized that edges that can be found elsewhere. However, you can still travel to places that have enough cultural disorientation to make a small adventure seem bigger. I think most of the Mississippi is like this. And certainly the Southwest portion of Alaska promised cultural enhancement to what would otherwise have been simply an amazing thing.

Prior to the Alaska trip, I had not been to a lodge or fish camp. The place where we were going was clearly on the fish camp end of the lodge scale and about four miles upstream from one of those quintessential lodges. Of course, our place ran about one third the cost of the fancy place, and while room and board compromises were made, we fished the same waters.

Why we're all here. A small rainbow trout.
I'm sure the clientele downstream differed from ours as well. About thirty folks filled the ten rooms at our lodge and was a mix of retirees, small business owners, and working stiffs out for an adventure. In my experience when you assemble any random group of humans the prevailing mode is to mesh; to seek some way of coexisting. And when you tie them together with a common interest, say, fishing for large Rainbow Trout, you create a common thread of experience that makes the meshing much easier.

This group meshed pretty easily. Nobody in this crowd was putting on airs and for the most part I sat each evening with one or another of the parties and it was easy to fit in.

Except for the goons.

Tony called them the goons. It was the perfect moniker. Three guys, all shy of thirty seasons, who right from the beginning went out of their way to be apart. At first I attributed this to the awkwardness that comes from trying to leap the age gap. The next youngest guys in the room were probably close to twice their age and maybe they didn't appear to have the social graces to make that leap. But by the second day it was clear that they saw the gap and didn't deem it worth leaping.

It's as if someone built a 1950s roadside motel in the tundra. Who would sit at those tables? The bugs
would eat you alive!
They bitched about the rooms, the food, and practically anything else that could be bitched about. They drank heavily, apparently smoked dope on the boat and openly belittled and made fun of folks sitting around the room with them. And they saved special venom for their guide; poor bastard. I had to agree with Tony, these guys were goons.

I've found goons in all aspects of my life and you probably have too. Some of these goons have to be confronted, their affront to the established order is just too great, but most have to be ignored. They live in a small world and not only is it difficult to bust in their door, it's not worth it. There's nothing to find or to improve or to rationalize with, it's simply a void.

These goons were ostracized by the group and eventually they got the hint and chartered a plane and left. Sometimes social remedies are the best ones.

With the goons gone a cloud was removed from the public life of the lodge. The evening gathering of the clan lost its edge. Meals were easier. "Big Fish" stories were more enjoyable and there seemed to be a relative abundance of camaraderie in the room.  To paraphrase my best buddy Ross, living life well is both the best revenge and reward.

Live well.

Out back. A bedroom faced the front and a bedroom faced
the back with a bathroom in between.

Dirrrty flies for dirty business


  1. Great post. Good times. Silly goons.
    Life lived.

    Very much enjoyed this!

  2. Where do the goons fit into the 1 through 7 series?

  3. E: Thx.

    T.J.: Definitely 6 with some wannabe 1 mixed in. They lived near Anchorage, fished all those local rivers and one or two of them may have guided some. I don't think any of them had ever left the state.

  4. Pulaski: population 7,000: all goons. Somehow we'll mesh. Scotch helps.