A delicious dinner meets with conversational indigestion
So, my wife and I are enjoying a marvelous Italian dinner at a local restaurant.
I'm a sucker for Zuppa Di Pesce, made up of a conglomeration of fish, lobster (when available), shrimp, mussels, clams, crab and calamari. All of this gently placed on top of beautifully cooked linguini -- al dente, of course.
I was miles off my strict diet but otherwise grateful for the chef's gentle touch with his dish for the gods.
And just as I was twirling some of that luscious linguini on to my fork, up walks an inebriated chap who could barely walk.
"You're that guy who spews out that outdoor stuff on the radio," he yelled in a very belligerent tone.
I nodded my head and continued forking my pasta. But deep in my heart I knew this guy wasn't through and wasn't going to let me off the hook.
"You keep talking about Wisconsin and Minnesota as wonderful spots to live and fish," he said in an even louder editorial manner.
I knew right then and there I had to either wolf down some clams and shrimp before they became chilled by the air conditioning, or verbally defend myself with Mr. 100-proof.
I felt a jab in my knee from my wife, always one to help coach me through a rough encounter. Her knee push was a signal to keep eating and keep my mouth shut. Of course, I couldn't do both at the same time.
I kept thanking this interloper for his opinions and asked him to allow me to finish my dinner, but he kept verbally running off at the mouth.
Because I am opinionated most of the time, especially about Illinois politics, fishing and hunting, and bureaucracies that do nothing for the people except respond in double-speak, I often rub people the wrong way.
And this was one of those wrong-way guys.
So I stood up and replied to everything he said, despite the fact I doubted he was cognizant of anything anyone said to him in his impaired state.
I realized I was going to really light his fuse when I started. Here's what I said.
For well over 30 years I have promoted Illinois and its fishing and hunting resources. I then told him I have been in the outdoor communications business almost 50 years. I admitted I lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota and enjoyed every single moment of my residency.
And then I laid the bombshell.
"Wisconsin has it all over Illinois," I said. "Its lakes are in better shape, its streams for the most part are crystal clear and pristine-like, and out in the country the supper clubs offer customers fantastic steaks and other delights."
I then added that the state legislature in Madison understands that because tourism is a big cash cow for that state and local communities, many groups are put to the task of making sure visiting anglers have something to talk about when they get back home after dropping a lot of coin in towns near and on the various lakes.
I could see the obnoxious one starting to waiver and noticed his knees were trembling.
I then I added the final note.
"Maybe I'll move back there, to either Minnesota or Wisconsin, and give myself a real treat," I said. "Of course I'll miss the face-to-face action with guys like you, but I'll exist nevertheless."
•Contact Mike Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at www.mikejacksonoutdoors.com.
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