The name on the map doesn’t match the name its earned

Leave them on and spare us all It’s the same thing I tell new employees, ” if I forget your name and call you ‘New Meat’ – don’t take it personal, I have a helluva time remembering names, but once I catch you filching my favorite donut I’ll remember your name … just not in a good way.”

I use placeholder names as a survival tactic. Angling authors (in any medium) learn to tiptoe around certain words; obvious ones like “always” and “never” – and the not-so-obvious, riffle names, geographical landmarks, and anything that identifies someone’s secret spot – despite it being common knowledge.

Writing is the ultimate in brinkmanship –  as the author is only a consonant away from being flamed cruelly, and over time develops “Spidey” sense – that tingle that alerts him to unguarded prose.

Placeholders are more fun than actual names – as most rivers and landmarks out West were named after the robber-baron owning the most real estate or railroads. Our landscape is dotted with capitalists whose surname is unwieldy at describing a gleaming river filled with voracious fish.

Reading about the Battle of Hue and its Perfume River earned my creek “the Little Stinking” – and for obvious reasons. Renaming something as lofty as the American River is problematic, but after three weeks of exploiting its chilly bosom, I’m calling it “the Underwear” from now on…

Snags have always been part and parcel to fishing, and sunken tree limbs and brush piles lighten our fly boxes considerably. There’s always a sense of relief when a sustained pull gives ground instead of snapping your fly off – but on the Underwear it’s a sense of foreboding.

This weekend was typical. One set of checkered boxers, one bikini bottom, and a pair of Tidy Whities –  resembling Rock Snot.

I’ve assumed that somewhere between Folsom Dam and my riffle are tenements whose clothlines stretch over the river, but the locals assure me its the rafting crowd that contributes with such regularity.

It’s that memory that makes barked knuckles pause enroute to the mouth. The Brownline is simple, avoid water – stem the blood flow by wrapping the wound in your shirt. Blue water is equally straightforward, clean the wound with chill water – then dance around yelling “owwie” before leaving in a huff.

Is the Underwear something betwixt the two? Blue water strained through cotton briefs is unappealing … and based on my catch rate the “run” of partially clad nubiles is two-thirds male … Equally offputting.

I suppose the “silver lining” of dredging all those undergarments is not having to purchase any, but those bikini bottoms do chafe something fierce ..

3 thoughts on “The name on the map doesn’t match the name its earned”

  1. I sometimes kayak down the lower American, I mean, Underware River and, occasionally, I don’t make it through the San Juan Rapid in an upright position.

    It can get pretty gnarly and the last time the current ripped my britches right off my bottom.

    So, if you find a pair of Tiddy-Whities, size Extra Large, with, ah…stains of various colors…please return them to me (after you have them laundered, of course).

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