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My sister Janet called to tell me about the fishing trip our favorite aunt, Betty, and her best friend, Helen took. The girls love to fish, but their husbands won’t take them along because they say their talking scares the fish.

Aunt Betty, who’s pushing 80 pretty hard, got fed up asking and decided that she and Helen didn’t need the “boys” to take them fishing. They rented a small boat at the lake north of town where the fishing is good – if you don’t mind the alligators.

They weren’t worried about the alligators, because all they could think about was the big string of fish they were going to catch and how they would show up their husbands.

Sure enough, the fishing was great. By noon, they had a big stringer of bream. Aunt Betty paddled the boat into the shade along the eastern shore of the lake where they could anchor and eat lunch. They were laughing and having a great time when Aunt Betty looked up. There dangling on a tree limb over Helen’s head was one of the biggest snakes she had ever seen. To her surprise, Helen did not scream with fright or become hysterical. She simply stood up, laid down her fishing rod, and stepped out of the boat into the water. 

Then, Helen, who was treading water, began to scream about the snake falling into the water and attacking her. Aunt Betty leaned over the side of boat and said, “Helen, don’t worry about the snake. If it falls in the water, the alligators will eat it and then they will eat you!”

The heated exchange that followed between them was over whether Helen should swim to the shore and then try to climb in the boat or whether Aunt Betty should try to pull her out of the water and into the boat. Helen voted for swimming until Aunt Betty pointed out that Helen had vigorously resisted any instruction in swimming since the sixth grade and it might be a little late to test her dog paddle.

Aunt Betty will be quick to tell you that getting a wet and unathletic Helen out of the water and into the boat was a phenomenal feat. As she tells it, Helen’s claim of wearing size 12 slacks is completely fabricated. From her perspective, they were at least 16s, if not larger. As a result of all the pulling and pushing to get Helen back in the boat, Aunt Betty says probably for the rest of her life she will be spending more time with her chiropractor than Uncle Harold.

Once Helen was back in the boat, she let Aunt Betty know that she was offended by all her remarks about her fondness for rich desserts and her failed attempts at Weight Watchers. Helen later confessed that she even considered dumping Aunt Betty in the drink. But then she remembered she didn’t know how to crank the boat motor.

The return trip to the dock was spent in silence as was possibly the next few weeks. Eventually Aunt Betty and Helen managed to patch things up and find a bit of humor in their ordeal. They are back to playing bridge, and Helen is considering giving Weight Watchers another try, but not fishing!