Saturday, July 25, 2009
It's barely 6am and I'm watching reruns of Deadliest Catch thanks to my antennaed friend, Tivo. Another one of my many obsessions, this one happens to be "the roughest and toughest" highlight episode; all the horror stories of a life at sea. Some have happy endings, like the guy who got pulled overboard by a swinging, 600lb. crab pot and then was miraculously retrieved by his quick thinking crew mates. Or the guy who fell off a neighboring boat and was plucked from the hypothermia pool known as the Bering Sea by a boat running alongside. Occasionally they'll actually find a living, breathing fisherman inside those space age-looking survival suits. Other times the ship will go down with all hands lost. Maybe they find some floating debris: all that's left of a once vibrant family of fisherman. They don't call it deadliest catch for nothing.
It's hard to say exactly what draws me to this show. Probably my Norwegian heritage-viking blood mind you. One things for sure though, i'm not alone. Amongst man shows of it's genre, "deadliest catch" is the most popular-hands down. Maybe it's the lure of high-seas, man's man adventure and the ability to watch it all from the safety of my warm home, sipping coffee in my boxers, petting my cat.
As one watches the show the inevitable question infiltrates their consciousness. Could I survive a season on a crab boat in the Bering Sea? Certainly I'm tougher than that last greenhorn they sent packing for home. What a momma's boy that guy was! Most of the guys seem to be happy in their orange suits: whooping and hollering over the latest prank they've pulled or a full pot of crab with dollar signs written all over it. No wives around to tell them to take showers because they reek like week old cod guts. No kids pestering them incessantly with, "Hey dad, look at me". Heck, I don't get sea sick very often and I love being out in a boat all day fishing. Easy money. One month at sea for what some people make in an entire year. Yeah, I think I'll pack my bags and head for the docks.
Reality sinks in when the show reveals what's really going on. Wait a minute, did he just say a twenty-eight-hour shift? Did that guy really just get swept across a fifty foot deck with that wave? That guys missing two fingers and three of his buddies are dead. Come to think of it. I really like sleeping at least six hours every night in a bed that I can sit up in, one that is planted safely on solid ground. Those mountainous waves don't look too inviting, especially in the dead of night, black as obsidian with sinister white snakes crawling all over it, whipped into a frenzy by an eighty-knot hurricane. The captain ain't turning around when you get a toothache or bruise a few ribs. The Bering Sea doesn't offer time outs or second chances when you do something dumb. I can't stand the smell of rotting fish or the feeling of being drenched to my socks in bone-chilling winds.
On second thought, I'll leave the crab catching to the salty dogs and watch all the danger and drama from the safety of my living room. I don't really mind showering frequently and my kids need me. So does my cat and I don't think he'd make a very good stowaway aboard The Northwestern.