The B.A.S.S. odd couple

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm … "

Dateline: Packin' & Travelin'

Came this text message:

"Hey db! It's Jill Lane.  Russ will b staying n a 3 BR/2 Bath house at Lake Murray.  Russ said u r more than welcome to stay with him J  He will b there by himself until I get there on Friday."

I wasn't homeless, but I was mobile-officeless.  My home wasn't taken by a tornado, I live in Connecticut, but all around me, all I saw was destruction.

Complete devastation.

I saw a family living in one of those small pod things.  You know, you put your extra unneeded stuff in it, and put it in storage.

I met a family of three who now called one of those things … home.

I saw a mailbox in a tree.

I saw a bike with training wheels in a pasture.

A donkey walked by me.  As did a herd of cows.

I met a man who's entire wardrobe consisted of just what he had on, his wife clutched a small velvet bag that held the first tooth lost by her child.  She found it amongst the debris of what was once their lives.

Both had faraway eyes.  Looking at the immediate, wishing for the past.

I saw soup lines.  I saw gasoline lines.  I saw a barefoot lady in a ripped dress standing in a line to get used clothes.

I saw CVS prescription bottles in a creek.  I saw a DVD stuck into a tree.  I saw one tire, standing up all by itself, right next to it a battered child's toy.

Saw all this, and I was standing in America.  Standing in Alabama.

Crying.

What came out of the sky that day wounded us all.

You became battered and bruised, just by driving through.

" … I was burned out from exhaustion buried in the hail … "

So I said, "Take it."

And I handed strangers the keys to my RV.

Didn't need to know who they are, will never put their names or their faces in print.  If you need to know who they are, know this … it's you.

If you happen to live under sky, it could be you, you could be them. 

Working class stiffs doing what you are supposed to do, busting your butt to make it, busting your butt to raise good decent kids, busting your butt to have faith.  God, country, family.

Until the sky calls your name.

And the roar comes, and the darkness comes, and when you come up out of the earth, and wipe the rain from your face, and squint through the flashes of lightening, what you see is this …

… nothing.

All gone.

You did your job, did what it is that we are supposed to do, but the sky took it anyway.

There is no fairness when the clouds drop to earth.  Your house is gone, but next door, the flower pots still sit on the front porch.

So I said, "Take This," and I left, with no real place to go.

I wasn't "homeless," I was "houseless."  My home, where love resides, was safe, unlike all those around me.

"… poisoned in the bushes and blown out on the trail … "

The text said simply, "Come here."  We'll give you shelter

The Elites, being Elite. 

I'm a sad lucky man, two families have I.  My wife, my children, my soul, the B.A.S.S. Elite Anglers and their families, my heart.  Always torn between home, and the road.

Love, divided.

When I said, "Take it," I did so because I knew someone would take me. 

When I said, "Take It," it wasn't a heroic gesture, a random act of kindness, or done alone.  It was done with the blessing of my wife Barb, who said it was the only human thing to do, humans helping humans, but it was also done because I knew behind me, stood the Elites.

They had my back, which allowed me to cradle the backs of others.  America, you know.  Neighbors, shore to shore.  Bruised, sure, broken, never.

So when Elite angler Russ Lane's wife Jill texted me that message, I wasn't surprised at the message, or who it came from.

This is the exact text message I sent back:

"Count me in."

And from that simple text comes this, "My Week as an Elite."  For the entire week I will be rooming with Elite angler Russ Lane … we are friends … but we are different.

An Odd Couple.

He's young.

I was.

He's in shape.

I have a different shape.

He has hair.

I did.

He combs it.

I can't.

He cooks some.

I drive-thru most.

Neither one of us can figure out laundry though.

If you remember Neil Simon's, The Odd Couple, I'm Oscar Madison.

Russ is Felix Unger.

And all of it, starts tonight.

All because of a text from, Jill.

"Come in" she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm … "

Shelter From The Storm

Bob Dylan

 -- db

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