Rabbits & bulldogs

“Now look a look…”

Dateline:  Grumpy Old Men; Season Three

Let’s talk.

You know, I was going to begin this story one way but then I erased that and begun this story a whole other way.

Let’s talk.

Talk some about getting old.

Talk some about this here retirement thing.

Talk some about Rabbits & Bulldogs.

See, I was going to begin this story this way:

If y’all don’t know who Captain Kangaroo is, it might be best if you moved on to some other click on the internet.

But then I got to thinking, but then the story got to a changing, but then the universe got to talking, got to leading the story and changed the beginning of the story to this:

If ya’ll don’t know who Captain Kangaroo is, it might be best if you stayed put on this story.

Because, you see, someday, iPods will be antiques.

Because, you see, someday, you will be upset your mother threw out your Power Rangers.

Because, you see, someday, Justin Bieber will be playing Dinner Theater in Cleveland.

Because, you see, someday, God willing, you will be old.

Let’s talk.

“… look a look…”

Used to be, when I looked in a mirror, it was me looking back.  Now, not so much.  Now, in the mirror, I see my mother and father looking back at me.

Trust me, peach fuzz and dimples don’t last. 

Trust me, it’s a blink of an eye from pimple cream to rejuvenating facials.

Trust me, your hair will move from the top of your head to hanging out your nose.

When I frown, that second line down from my eyebrow, that line is there from the day I watched my baby girl, 2-month-old Ashley, being wheeled into surgery.

The lines on my face are the stories of my life.  I’ve earned my gray hair.  I’ve earned my aches, my pains, my crooked teeth, my old man odors and my socks with shorts.

And, again, God willing, you young’uns will earn all that, too. But I can’t help you there. I’ve also earned something else,

the secret to life, and with that there, I think I can help you.

Once you know the secret of life, none of those wrinkles matter, none of those nose hairs matter, none of the aches, none of the pains … socks with shorts, though, will always be a problem but,

the secret to life is the only thing that matters.

And the secret to life is


Find someone to love, who loves you back and then love them with all you got.

But also, and this is very, very important, LOVE WHAT YOU DO.

I believe that everyone on this planet was put here for a special reason, made, programmed in … to do something, do what they love,

and when you know that secret, and when you do what you love,




“…a look a yonder, a what’s that I see…”

Shaw taking off into the fog...spitting at the bulldogLet’s talk.

Never allow anyone else to tell you who you are.


But never, never ever, tell yourself,

you’re done.

Never be, done.

Never think, done.

Rick Clunn:  “Never allow yourself to accept that all your best moments are in the past.”

But still take the AARP discount.

This here is my 3rd season of rooming with Elite angler Shaw Grigsby and Elite angler and former Classic champ Paul Elias.

I’m near on 62.

Paul is near on 63.

Shaw, near on 58.

I’ve been in the writing/reporting biz for some 30 years now, both Paul and Shaw have been in the tournament fishing biz for as long, if not longer. 

This Monday morning, about 5:30am, we are all sitting around the rental house waiting for the sun to catch up to the new daylight savings thing, and I just happen to ask one question, the question that lead to this story. Here it is:

“After all these years, do you guys still get excited about the new season?”

They do.

Paul:  "Even though I have been doing this near on now close to three decades, I'm still as excited as if this was my first tournament."

Shaw smiles and nods his head yes while saying, “There’s no other place I’d rather be.”

Thing is, none of us should be here.

“…a great big stone wall stands there ahead of me…”

6:10 AM this morning, door opens to Paul’s room, and he comes out singing, NO LIE, singing this:

“I pulled into Nazareth; I was feelin' about half past dead…”

Shaw, sipping coffee, looks at Paul, looks at me and says, "See what I told you, all that there stuff disappears when we hit the water; doing what we love is the best medicine.”

Me: “You know, none of us should actually be here, doing this.”

Both Paul and Shaw have had issues with their hearts; I just got out of the hospital where I almost didn’t make it. But, I can tell you this as a fact: The moment I started writing again was the moment, regardless of what anybody else says, the moment I started writing was the moment my recovery began, the moment I started feeling good once again.

Shaw:  “The secret to life…Never Stop.”

Paul: “We all got so much talent bottled up inside us. Sure, it used to flow freely and now it doesn’t come to the top like it used to; but when it does, all of our experience just comes flowing back.”

As I write that quote down, I look up for a second and just catch Paul and Shaw sitting around the table, both, just smiling.


Shaw: “For years in books and magazines, we have schooled all these young ones out here now competing and fishing against us but…”

And then comes the smile of the Cheshire Cat, the smile that says,

School’s not out.

“…but I've got my pride and I'll move the wall aside…”

Paul: “It’s like I have this driving force inside of me, I may not be stronger, but I can be smarter. Sure I get frustrated out there with all the new electronics we have to deal with and I go into an instant stupid…but you asked what the secret to life is…I think it’s knowing what matters, and knowing what really matters keeps me on track.”

To those who know of Captain Kangaroo, and to those who don’t, a quick story about listening to the unexpected.

I’m at a BBQ with Paul, our neighbors put on a BBQ and invited us; most all of them knew Paul, not many knew me.

One old guy, between frying catfish, kept coming up and talking to me, an ex-Vietnam Vet, long-time employee of the Florida Department of Health and an avid angler. He asked, “Do you fish?”

“Not really.”



“You say you are an outdoor writer?”

“Yep, but I don’t really like the outside, makes me sneeze.”

At that, he stopped frying catfish and came close to me, but said nothing.  He’s all wily now. I know that move, I’ve done it thousands of times while interviewing someone.  He’s waiting for my move.

I take a hit off my bottle of Root Beer.


I know the question, been asked it a thousand times before, but the old guy couldn’t contain himself, made his move,

my turn.

“What’s your name?”

“Ah, Kimbrel Brown.”

“Why do I do this? Because I love what I do. I love the fact that the anglers I cover love what they do as well, and that when you love what you do, and they love what they do, it just becomes pretty damn special.”

And yep, Kimbrel Brown sucked me in...he had made his move long ago, and I missed it, because the old guy wearing the Bass hat and smelling like fried catfish leaned in even closer to me and said,

“You the rabbit, spitting at the bulldog, ain’t you,” and then he smiled, and not as the bulldog.

The Bulldog is the person who tells you who you are.

The Bulldog tells you to stop, that you don’t belong.

The Bulldog, barks retire.

Once again, Rick:  “Never allow yourself to accept that all your best moments are in the past.”

And from me, “Find what you love, and love it crazy, life is our own personal air guitar, grab it, hold onto it, play it and DANCE but,



stop spitting,

at the Bulldog.

“…and keep on pushin'.”

“Keep on Pushin’”

Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions



Update from Shaw after the Day 1 weigh-in on Seminole: "db, it was a blessed day…in my 30-plus years of fishing tournaments, it's only the 4th time I've caught over 30 pounds…don't ever believe that your best days are behind you….don't ever believe that."

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