Life time Catch

He was 11 years old and went fishing every chance he got from the dock at his family's cabin on an island in the middle of a New Hampshire lake.

  On the day before the bass season opened, he and his father were fishing early in the evening, catching sunfish and perch with worms. Then he tied on a small silver lure and practiced casting. The lure struck the water and caused colored ripples in the sunset, then silver ripples as the moon rose over the lake restylane.

  When his peapole doubled over, he knew something huge was on the other end. His father watched with admiration as the boy skillfully worked the fish alongside the dock.

  Finally, he very gingerly lifted the exhausted fish from the water. It was the largest one he had ever seen, but it was a bass Decorative Works.

  The boy and his father looked at the handsome fish, gills playing back and forth in the moonlight. The father lit a match and looked at his watch. It was 10 P.M.-- two hours before the season opened. He looked at the fish, then at the boy.

  "You'll have to put it back, son," he said.

  "Dad!" cried the boy.

  "There will be other fish," said his father.

  "Not as big as this one," cried the boy.

  He looked around the lake. No other fishermen or boats were anywhere around in the moonlight. He looked again at his father. Even though no one had seen them, nor could anyone ever know what time he caught the fish, the boy could tell by the clarity of his father's voice that the decision was not negotiable. He slowly worked the hook out of the lip of the huge bass and lowered it into the black water Invisalign.

  The creature swished its powerful body and disappeared. The boy suspected that he would never again see such a great fish.

  That was 34 years ago. Today, the boy is a successful architect in New York City. His father's cabin is still there on the island in the middle of the lake. He takes his own son and daughters fishing from the same dock.

  And he was right. He has never again caught such a magnificent fish as the one he landed that night long ago. But he does see that same fish-again and again-every time he comes up against a question of ethics.

  For, as his father taught him, ethics are simple matters of right and wrong. It is only the practice of ethics that is difficult. Do we do right when no one is looking? Do we refuse to cut corners to get the design in on time? Or refuse to trade stocks based on information that we know we aren't supposed to have?

  We would if we were taught to put the fish back when we were young. For we would have learned the truth. The decision to do right lives fresh and fragrant in our memory. It is a story we will proudly tell our friends and grandchildren. Not about how we had a chance to beat the system and took it, but about how we did the right thing and were forever strengthened.

We are Family

When I broke up with yet another boyfriend, this time after a three?year relationship, I decided it was time for me to face the facts-I was just not lucky in love aspire atlantis. Yet even though I had given up on men, I wasn't ready to go without love in my life, so I decided to get a dog.

  I found the perfect puppy after a careful search, and one hot June day, I brought home the little golden retriever puppy I'd named Cognac.

  Like all puppies, Cognac was adorable; immediately, I felt love and sweetness flowing in my life again. Why hadn't I thought of this sooner?

  A few days later, I received a call from a man who'd gotten my name through a computer?dating club. I had joined the club before the start of my last relationship and had never cancelled my membership. I hadn't been very impressed with the people I'd met through the club's services, but this guy, Brad, seemed nice enough on the phone, so when he asked me to meet him at the lake in a nearby park the next evening, I thought, I've got to walk Cognac anyway . . . sure, why not?

  Brad had said he was no longer in the service, but that he had been an air force tech sergeant. That wasn't the kind of guy I usually dated, but I had liked his voice on the phone and decided to keep an open mind. When I got to the park for our date, I looked around for a blond man with a buzz cut and a military bearing. There was no one like that at the park-the only blond man was a gorgeous guy with hair almost to his shoulders. I thought, Now why can't a guy like that ask me out? ~ Then the gorgeous guy walked over to me and said, "Are you Jan?"

  I immediately decided to give men another chance.

  Cognac's enthusiastic greeting made our introductions easy. He jumped up on Brad's legs and ran in circles, wagging his whole body madly while trying to lick every part of Brad he could. We started to walk around the lake, and everybody we met fussed over the puppy. By the time we were halfway around the lake, Brad was holding Cognac's leash, and he and I were chatting away like old friends.

  At the end of our walk, we weren't ready to say goodbye, so we found a cafe and picked an outdoor table so the puppy could be with us. From the very start, our relationship included Cognac.

  Things went from good to better. One evening, three months later, Brad and I went to a restaurant that we liked for dinner. It was one of those places that have paper over the tablecloths and when they bring you the menu, they also bring crayons so that you can draw or writ e poetry while you're waiting for your meal. Brad and I always played Hangman while we waited and that night, we were playing our usual game. As I guessed the letters and the words started to form themselves, a sentence emerged: Will you marry me Unique Beauty?

  I gasped and turned towards Brad, "Are you kidding?"

  Brad looked nervous, but his eyes were shining and he smiled at me. "No, I'm not kidding-what's your answer?"

  I took a crayon and wrote a huge YES across the paper.

  We sat grinning at each other for a few minutes and then began to plan our wedding.

  From the start, we were sure about two things: We wanted an outdoor wedding and we wanted Cognac to be a part of the ceremony.

  The day of the wedding dawned perfect and clear. Our families and friends gathered near the natural spring that we'd chosen as the spot where we would say our vows. My bridesmaids were dressed in rich purple gowns. I had on my wedding dress, and my heart felt as if it were overflowing with love and joy. Yet I was slightly apprehensive, wondering if we had lost our minds expecting Cognac, now ten months old and goofy in the way that only young dogs can be, to handle his responsibilities as ringbearer without creating chaos.

  Cognac wore a white collar and a purple satin bow tie. My bridesmaids, who knew we had lost our minds having a dog at the ceremony, ran around with lint rollers, trying to keep their dark gowns free of golden hair-an almost impossible task.

  Cognac's job was to carry a heart?shaped basket containing our rings to Brad. The basket held a heart?shaped pillow to which Brad had secured our rings with pieces of wire. This would prevent a disaster, in case Cognac decided to go for a swim in the spring, basket and all, instead of delivering it to Brad as we'd planned. As I began to walk to the aisle, in preparation for following the bridesmaids, I panicked. I realized I needed another hand! I held my bouquet in one hand, Cognac on his leash in the other, but I needed to hold the basket as well. If I gave the basket to Cognac to carry, he would take it as the signal to run to Brad, just as he'd been trained and I'd be dragged after him-spoiling the effect I'd had in my mind for my appearance on the scene.

  Somehow I managed to get to the aisle, unhook

  Cognac's leash and put the basket in his mouth. He was off like a shot, racing toward Brad with his beautiful golden ears streaming behind him, as if he was hot on the trail of a speeding rabbit. There was a swell of laughter as our guests appreciated the dedication of our furry ring- bearer.

  When Cognac reached Brad, he dropped the basket at feet and, panting, looked up at Brad for approval. As Brad reached down to pick up the rings, a suddenly quiet Cognac solemnly raised his paw to meet my almost- husband's hand-a canine "Way to go, Brad."

  Our guests, dog?lovers and non?dog?lovers alike alinamin, were completely undone and to this day, when anyone talks about our wedding they may not remember what year it was or what I was wearing, but they always mention the dog's pawshake.

  For me, it was the perfect start to our new life together. Just the way I always dreamed it would be-Brad and me ... and Cognac.

Fish Cheeks

I fell in love with the minister's son the winter I turned fourteen. He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger. For Christmas I prayed for this blond-haired boy joyetech egrip vt, Robert, and a slim new American nose. When I found out that my parents had invited the minister's family over for Christmas Eve dinner, I cried. What would Robert think of our shabby Chinese Christmas? What would he think of our noisy Chinese relatives who lacked proper American manners? What terrible disappointment would he feel upon seeing not a roasted turkey and sweet potatoes but Chinese food?

  On Christmas Eve I saw that my mother had outdone herself in creating a strange menu. She was pulling black veins out of the backs of fleshy prawns. The kitchen was littered with appalling mounds of raw food: A slimy rock cod with bulging eyes that pleaded not to be thrown into a pan of hot oil. Tofu, which looked like stacked wedges of rubbery white sponges. A bowl soaking dried fungus back to life. A plate of squid, their back crisscrossed with knife markings so they resembled bicycle tires.

  And then they arrived --- the minister's family and all my relatives in a clamor of doorbells and rumpled Christmas packages. Robert grunted hello, and I pretended he was not worthy of existence.

  Dinner threw me deeper into despair. My relatives licked the ends of their chopsticks and reached across the table, dipping them into the dozen or so plates of food gyms in hong kong. Robert and his family waited patiently for platters to be passed to them. My relatives murmured with pleasure when my mother brought out the whole steam fish. Robert grimaced.

  Then my father poked his chopsticks just below the fish eye and plucked out the soft meat. "Amy, your favorite," he said, offering me the tender fish cheek. I wanted to disappear. At the end of the meal my father leaned back to and belched loudly, thanking my mother for her fine cooking. "It's a polite Chinese custom to show you are satisfied," explained my father to our astonished guests. Robert was looking down at his plate with a reddened face. The minister managed to muster up a quiet burp. I was stunned into silence for the rest of the night.

  After everyone had gone, my mother told me, "You want to be the same as American girls on the outside." She handed me an early gift. It was a miniskirt in beige tweed. "But inside you must always be Chinese. You must be proud you are different. Your only shame is to have shame."

  And even though I didn't agree with her then, I knew that she understood how much I had suffered during the evening's dinner. It wasn't until many years later --- long after I had gotten over my crush on Robert --- that I was able to fully appreciate her lesson and the true purpose behind out particular menu. For Christmas Eve that year Beauty Box, she had chosen all my favorite foods.


No Name Ninja