June 22, 2009
Merwin: Fine Wine & Warm Beer
By John Merwin
So here’s a bit in praise of snobbery when it comes to fishing. I don’t mean the kind of in-your-face uptown tweed that some fly fishermen, in particular, unfortunately seem to affect. It’s just that a down-and-dirty approach to fishing seems itself to have become overblown lately. Hey, I’ve spent my share of nights in years past sleeping under a sheet of polyethylene next to a trout river and washing down a can of Dinty Moore stew with warm beer. That was okay. But it doesn’t mean I’d necessarily choose that route if I had other options.
I got thinking about this a while ago when I was at a very chi-chi trout-fishing lodge in Wyoming. Various guests gathered around an outdoor fire after fishing. The guy next to me had laid out in front of him a glass of fine single-malt Scotch, an obviously expensive cigar, a Dunhill lighter (I checked), and a cigar cutter. “Holy smokes,” I said to him. “You look like something out of Cigar Afficianado magazine.”
He smiled. “So what’s wrong with that?”
In retrospect, I have to say there was nothing wrong at all. He wasn’t pushing any superiority or otherwise being a nuisance. He was just enjoying what he happened to have and liked. So would I rather have a great bottle of wine after fishing than a warm beer? Of course I would. Do I always? Of course not. And in any case, I’m certainly not going to stupidly declare myself a better person or angler just by virtue of better food or drink. At the same time, though, I can’t push the reverse-snobbery thing to the point at which everything good becomes somehow bad. If you’ve got it, great. If not, that‘s okay, too.