Thursday, May 3, 2018

Half priced sushi

Half priced sushi.

In New Jersey.

I was skeptical.

Over the winter I had the opportunity to drive around the northeast to fly tying gigs and fly fishing shows. Some of it was for business and some of it was for the social aspect. In retrospect it was all a search for some type of reaffirmation of why fly tying and fly fishing consume so much of my time, money and available hours for sleep.

I wrestle with the idea of stepping away from the business side of it every off-season. Trying to keep up with “the Jones’s” on social media and maintain some form of market relevance for a small full-time part-time niche business is exhausting. The temptation to break out of my “lane” to keep up with the race grows every time I flip on the phone or computer. Businesses and their products need to keep pace with trends and new materials, I get that, but I’m a student of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. I do change my fly patterns based on what I experience fishing them myself but I'm reluctant to alter the mission and vision of my business to be like another. Live by the sword, die by the sword. It’s gotten me this far.

And I still wear clothes from the 90’s. Because I dig it.

In my travels there were moments spent talking with people from different aspects of the fly fishing industry that reminded me it’s not all about likes, followers, hash tags and online identities. Rod, reel and line makers, fly tiers, guides, artists, writers, photographers and a group of really cool ladies working to advance the female segment of the industry…there are still some who do it because it’s just what they do.

At a show in New Jersey I went to dinner with some industry friends. The plan was to hit a sushi place that had a half price special. It was Saturday night and the place was full. Half of us opted to wait for tables while the other half went to a Chinese place next door. After a short wait we split into two groups as spaces became available and I took a table with two of my friends I truly love as brothers. Walking up to the table the three of us silently and awkwardly jockeyed for a seat against the wall facing the entrance and the back door. It’s a reflex left over from a common background that creates an unspoken bond far beyond that of friendship.

Over dinner the conversation drifted around our kids, significant others, businesses, fishing trips, duty stations, hops and the social structure and required etiquette of mosh pits. The underlying theme through it all was support of each other and the rest of our group. As the sushi place was BYOB, I was lucky that one of my table mates owns a hops farm. The sushi was amazing and any health concerns I had about it being half priced were washed away by Big Truck Farms Motor Oil Black IPA.

We reconvened with the rest of the group later at an Irish pub in Metuchen where talk about what we do on our own and together continued. In between conversations and stories we listened to a band play R&B, disco, classic rock and pretty much everything from each decade I’ve been alive. The crowd in the bar was as diverse as the music. The only thing that struck me as odd was that people said “excuse me” and “thank-you” as they passed by or reached through our group when drinks were handed back from the bartender. I couldn’t help but think of the contrast to the tone of the world outside the door. It was encouraging.

I may or may have not lent the band some vocal assistance from our corner of the bar. It’s probably a good thing they didn’t cover any AC/DC because the wheels would have come off quickly.  Needless to say we closed the place. Walking back to the Jeep along the empty dim lit backstreets of Jersey there was one more conversation that a friend ended with “just do what you do.”

I’ll stay in my lane.
Photo courtesy of Matt Smythe
Half priced sushi.

In New Jersey.


South River, MA
3 May 2018

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