Page 21 - Alabama 811 Magazine 2020 Issue 4
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We threw our lines in the water and I started dreaming about all the time we were going to have to fish before I had to go back to school and it made me smile on the inside.
“What’s the best thing about school being out?” Dillard asked me. “No
more times tables,” I said quickly. “What’s wrong with times tables?” he questioned me. “What’s wrong? What in the world do I need to know what 6 times 9 is? I’m not going to be a teacher or a scientist,” I said disgustedly.
He just sat there motionless as if he were trying to understand everything I had just said. Years later I learned that was not why he sat so quietly. He was just giving me time to sweat. He then said, “You’re getting a bite.” I jerked the line and had a nice sized perch on my stringer before you could say scat.
I baited my hook with a big old juicy milk worm and threw the line back in the water. We just sat there watching the corks again when he said, “You know I’m not sure we can even be good fishermen unless we learn our times tables.”
I didn’t like where this was going. “Are you tricking me?” I asked. “No,” he said. “How many days a week can you fish?” he asked. “Six,” I said because Auntie wouldn’t let me fish on Sunday. “Right,” he answered. “And let’s suppose you fish six days next week and the fish aren’t biting all that good and all you can catch is two fish every day. So how many fish did you catch?” “Twelve,”
What in the world do I need to know what 6 times 9 is? I’m not going to be a teacher or a scientist.
I answered. After all I was halfway through the 3rd grade.
“Suppose the fish were really biting and you caught nine fish every day. How many fish would you catch then?” Becoming very disinterested in this
game I said, “A lot.” He continued, “Suppose you ran into your friend Billy Conn Stokes and you wanted to tell him how many fish you caught, and you say I caught a lot of fish last week. Suppose he went fishing last week too and he only caught ten fish all week long, and since he is not as good a fisherman as you are, he thought ten fish was a lot. You want him to think he caught as many fish as you did because you don’t know how much 6 times 9 is?”
Dad gum that Billy Conn Stokes! The very idea that he thinks he’s as good a fisher as I am. 6 times 9 is either 54 or 56. I can’t remember yet, but I hope to kiss
a mule if I’m going to let him get away thinking he is as good as I am.
“I’m going to need some serious help with them. You know your times tables?” I asked Dillard. “Sure son, I think I can muddle through them, and we’ll be
sure to make time to count our fish,” he replied.
“I’ll be sitting across from you in the 5th grade Billy Conn! And then we’ll see who the best fisherman is... The very idea that you think ten measly fish is a lot. You ain’t much, Billy Conn Stokes!
2020, Issue 4 Alabama 811 • 19

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