Sometimes less is worth more
We were in the hardware store buying some rope to make an anchor line, and Evander wound up picking through the store as if he’d never seen a hardware store before.
We went in for rope, but before we left, Evander had bought some turnbuckles for his camper, two sections of PVC pipe for some obscure project, and several cans of spray paint for painting the target frames on his shooting range.
Arms loaded, he made his way to the cash register and began a conversation with a man in line ahead of us.
It began with his observance that his new found friend was planning to cut some wood since he had chainsaw oil and some files for sharpening a chain saw chain, and progressed into catfish at Badin Lake, and then, the shared opinion that the only legitimate slaw for hotdogs and barbeque was red slaw, and the green slaw should be against the law in the state of North Carolina. During the extended conversation, they both paid for their stuff and moved out of the way of other customers. By the time we got out the door, the other customers had already left the parking lot, and they’d discussed the health issues of a mutual acquaintance, and resolved to go fishing together sometime.
My Uncle Evander was a talker. It seems it was his mission to get some conversation out of everyone he encountered. Perhaps in today’s rushed up world some might not find this quality endearing, but it seemed to work fine for him. He was not a gossiper, he was a conversationalist. No matter what the subject, he always had a funny story that related to it, and if it was a technical discussion, he’d have a pretty good suggestion at how to resolve the problem. He so enjoyed conversation that sometimes he’d somehow manage to get himself involved in a conversation as a third party with two total strangers who didn’t know him from Adam’s house cat.
This came in handy in his outdoor adventures, because in many outdoor endeavors, information is gold, and Evander could start talking to a local guy at the bait store, and leave with the exact location of the guy’s favorite fishing spot. It paid off in spades more than once. As a result of his willingness to talk to strangers, he had friends everywhere who offered him a place to stay, supper, and anything else he happened to need on his trip. We were once driving through South Carolina, and he got into a conversation with a guy at a service station. We wound up going to a total stranger’s house for supper, spending the night, and bird hunting with the guy the next day. He just had a great gift of gab.
Dr. Dick White was not a real doctor, he had some sort of degree and he’d taught at a college when he was younger. Dr. Dick liked to talk as much as Evander but he had a different style. He liked to impress people with where he’d traveled, or what he’d seen. He had similar interests to Evander, but Dr. Dick liked to buy expensive things. He always had a new truck, and his fishing gear was top notch. He liked to fly fish, and he shunned the idea of fishing for catfish because he didn’t consider them sporting.
The fact was, though, that Dr. Dick really knew a lot about fly fishing. He built his own rods, tied his own flies, and had traveled all over the world catching fish on a fly rod. He loved to talk about fly fishing and that could be a bit of a problem. You couldn’t stop him from talking once he got started. He liked to make references as to how much money his equipment cost, the names of famous people he’d fished with, and all the exotic places he’d fished. Evander liked him, but I thought he was a terrible bore because the conversation could only be about him and all the stuff he’d done.
He’d been invited to fly fishing shows and seminars all over the country to speak. Once, when he was doing a seminar at a bird hunting and fly fishing show in Charlotte, Evander was scheduled to speak at the same show. Evander was talking about shotguns and Dr. Dick was talking about catching native brook trout in the high country of Arkansas.
The sessions were to last an hour and Evander had his old shotguns lying on a table when the people came in. He talked about all the different ones and how they were made. He told the audience how to tell if you were looking at a good gun or not, and, about halfway through the hour, he asked for questions. The rest of the class was discussion, with the guys in the class hanging around in the room and talking to Evander until the room was needed for the next seminar.
I helped Evander put up his stuff and we had a hot dog at a local diner. I wanted to go home, but Evander insisted we attend Dr. Dick’s seminar since we knew him. Evander Pritchett knew everyone in the whole world it seemed and when we sat down, an old man wearing a tweed suit and an English looking cap got up and moved over to talk with Evander. It seemed the English looking guy, named Barry, had met Evander once on the Roanoke River, and as normal, they’d fished together later.
Dr. Dick’s seminar was informative. I learned a lot about fishing and using a fly rod, but it was also typical of Dr. Dick. He spent a lot of time impressing the audience about how important he was, and how smart he was, and he didn’t give anyone a chance to ask a question or talk. When time was up, he kept on talking and didn’t stop until the guy who was in charge came in and asked him to finish because the next group would be using the room. He still took several more minutes and when we left the room, the next group was lined up and waiting in the hall.
About a year later, Evander got a call from the English looking guy. It seemed that Barry had called Evander because Evander knew Dr. Dick. He wanted Dr. Dick to speak at his club and wanted Evander to help with the arrangements. Evander called Dick and they met at a local restaurant.
Once lunch was over, Evander asked Dick if he’d speak to Barry’s fishing club. Dick was pleased that Evander was having to ask him about speaking somewhere. He sipped his coffee and leaned back. “You know Evander,” he said grandly, “I normally get an honorarium for speaking at fishing clubs.”
“Yes,” Evander said. “They gave me two different offers for you. One for if you speak for 30 minutes and one for if you speak for an hour. They’ll give you a hundred dollars for you to speak for 30 minutes.”
A broad smile spread across Dr. Dick’s face. “A hundred dollars for a half hour, huh? That’s pretty good. What will they give me if I speak for an hour?”
Evander shifted a little in his chair. “Well,” he chuckled. “They said if you want to talk for an hour, they’ll give you fifty dollars.”
Dick Jones is an award-winning freelance writer living in High Point. He writes about hunting, fishing, dogs, and shooting for national magazines and websites. He recently finished his first book, Off the Porch. If you’d like to have him speak to your group, he can be reached at email@example.com or offtheporchmedia.com