Just for one day

"I will be king

and you, you will be queen ... "

Dateline: The Greyhawk

My life is built on quicksand.

As it should be.

I write scared.

As it should be.

I play the game, afraid.

As it should be.

The edge, hurts.

As it should be.

One foot in reality, one foot in dreams.

Sometimes I win.

Sometimes I don't.

As it should be.

Failure is my fire. When I look in the mirror, it is the failures that I see. The misses. The called strikes, the dropped end zone pass. One foot in bounds ... one out.

And when I fail, I smile, and try to move on. But inside me, everything that is me has left the building.

You couldn't live with me.

I can't live with me.

I don't want to live with me.

As it should be.

In failure, I become a stick figure.

A hallow man in a backwards baseball cap.

The human version of a cubicle.

As it should be.

At the beginning of my career I had a catastrophic failure. I was told I sucked. Sucked at doing news. I had long hair. I looked like, me, not them. I talked like, me, not them. I did stories on the 6 o'clock news about people, not blood.

I was different.

I was fired.

As it should be.

Even when I am by myself, I am never alone. Life in quicksand is only possible if you have someone there to pull you out.

Life on the edge can only happen if there is someone to catch you.

Back when being different sucked, especially for me, my wife came home to find me in our bed, under the covers.

In the fetal position.

A box of Kleenex on the night stand. Wet Kleenex by the side of the bed.

The phone on the floor up against the bedroom wall.

A bottle of Jack Daniels stood in its place.

I felt the mattress move as she sat down at the end of the bed. And this is what she said, "We'll be fine, we'll get through this."

Then she just sat there and gently rubbed my ankle. And never said another word.

And in the years since then, whenever the quicksand comes for me, I feel her hand on my ankle all over again. Even if she is in Connecticut, and I am not.

No alone.

There is someone that will pull me up, once again.

There is someone who will catch me when I fall, once again.

And as I sit in the Greyhawk and write this, I can see Elite angler Brent Chapman and his wife Bobbi work together to get their 5th wheel trailer parked and set up.

Their children, 6-year-old Mason and 4-year-old Makayla, are playing Frisbee with their dog Penny.

Bobbi is in the truck, Brent is back by the wheels of the rig. As Bobbi looks in the truck mirror, Brent raises his hand and with his thumb and forefinger shows Bobbi about a quarter inch of space.

And the truck moves a quarter inch.

Not a word spoken.

None needed.

An ankle rub on the crushed stone RV pull-through spot.

Arms to land in when there is only an edge.

A hand extended, when the quicksand comes.

From Bobbi: "Unconditional love, Brent needs to know that no matter what, no matter if he wins out there, no matter if he fails out there, that we, his family are here for him, that when he comes home we love him, we support him, unconditionally."

As it should be.

" ... though nothing will drive them away

We can beat them, just for one day ..."

"I pull my hair out when she is not here." Tough to do with a brush cut, but when Brent answered my question he did so by not looking at me, but at Bobbi who was sitting on the other side of the picnic table.

His words where for me, his heart was for Bobbi.

"I'm Brent's motivational coach."

Again, Bobbi talks to me, but does so looking at her husband.

"db, most people when they go to work if they have a bad day, or don't get the job done, it pretty much stays between them, and their boss, maybe one or two co-workers. But when Brent goes to work and has a bad day ... the whole word knows about it."

Been there, hate that.

Decades back when I was fired for being me, and not them, I went for a job interview, filled out the application, and signed my name.

Only a month or so before that I was at the same place signing autographs.

I'll never forget the looks that day.

I know the feeling of when the whole world knows.

And when all eyes are on you there is only one place to hide ... family.

"Brent knows that when he walks in this RV ... every one in here loves him, loves him unconditionally. I, we, are here to comfort him. In this sport there are peaks and valleys ... we level the field for Brent ... a steadying force, a constant he can fall back on."

This coming Thursday will be the Chapman's 10th wedding anniversary. Bobbi pretty much walked down the aisle, and onto a dock. She's been with Brent on the road every year since they have been married ... and their children have pretty much grown up throughout America.

"I lose passion for the sport if they are not with me. db honestly, I'm scared to death. We're coming to a crossroads here with the kids and school. Mason just started kindergarten, and loves it, loves school, very soon he might not be coming out on the road with me ... and that means that the family will be at home ... and I'll be out here ... alone."

As I sit and write this, in the RV spot across from me, Bobbi is cooking hot dogs on the grill with promises of Smores to come.

Brent is playing Frisbee with Mason and Penny the Pooch. Right outside my window Makayla is twirling in the crushed stone driveway, dancing to music only she can hear.

If I could be King.

If you were my Queen.

We could be different.

We could chase a dream.

On land or sea.

Together on the edge.

Together in a life in quicksand.

We can win.

With a rub of an ankle.


" ... oh we can beat them, for ever and ever

then we could be heroes, just for one day."


David Bowe


— db


Don Barone is an award-winning outdoors writer and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Guild of the U.K. You can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com.

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