How to Catch a Fish

We begin, not in explaining how to catch a fish, for every fisherman and fisherwoman has their own peculiar method, but rather in explaining how to tell a humorous story. After all it is the size of the catch and the manner of the catch that is important in fishing and not the fish itself. The story telling that follows is not mine, it almost entirely belongs to Mark Twain. He is a good story teller and one needs only to sit back and listen and enjoy.

The picture is mine, taken in Portosin, Spain a few years back. Portosin is not much as Spanish villages go. It is a small fishing village off the Ria de Morus et Noia and the Punta de Gafa in Galicia in northwest Spain.It is not a tourist destination which is fine with me. It is a quiet place where one goes to watch the fishermen and women at work.

Like words, pictures tell stories. But you have to take the time and imagine. My pictures and  my story follows Mark Twain’s explanation of humor.

Portosin, Portugal
Portosin, Spain

There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind—the humorous. I will talk mainly about that one. The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter.

The humorous story … may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst.

The humorous story is strictly a work of art—high and delicate art—and only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it. The art of telling a humorous story—understand, I mean by word of mouth, not print—was created in America, and has remained at home.

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through. And sometimes, if he has had good success, he is so glad and happy that he will repeat the ‘nub’ of it and glance around from face to face, collecting applause, and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to see.

So, how to catch a fish?

One can catch more fish with a net than a hook, but, as Mark Twain says, use a hook if you are fishing for love and “bait with your heart, not your brain.”

Then may he possess all the qualities of a good helpmate: understanding, hard-working, kind, loving, sharing, and caring.

To catch a fish
To catch a fish

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