“Lean on me…”
Dateline: Elite No. 4, Lake Havasu, Arizona
Okay, so Paul Ga-lias is the undisputed 3-point crouton shooter, pretty much nothing but salad bowl from anywhere on the dinner table.
“d, those little buggers hurt the roof of my mouth when I eat them.”
Next to him, directly across from me, Shaw Grigsby is just sitting there smiling, I’ve seen this look before, my on-the-road-roomie is on a fried calamari high.
I point out the scenic view of some Italian town painted on the wall behind them, when they both look I steal the last Italian bread stick.
Shaw lifts up the black napkin covering the bread basket, feels around in there for a stick, then just looks up me.
I give him the sneaky stink-eye in the direction of Paul, the lift of my eyebrows convicts our crouton hater roommate.
I suggest to Shaw that he order more bread and when he turns to get the waiters attention, I sneak a Calamari off his plate.
Yep this is Thursday, and this is dinner with Paul & Shaw, Eye-talian style.
Pull up a chair.
“…when you’re not strong…”
I have in front of me the king of all lasagnas, Paul has spaghetti and meatballs, Shaw has chicken carbonara with about a pound of parmesan cheese dumped on top of it, and he is looking for more.
Mario Lanza is singing through the speakers at Mario’s in Lake Havasu where we are for the second stop of the western swing of the Bassmaster Elite tour.
I got to pick the dinner place this time so I picked my favorite, Italian, where not one thing is served not cooked, except maybe the salad but I had salad last week so I can’t swear to this salad being cooked or not since I have already had my monthly serving of anything green.
The king of Lasagna is still bubbling so I get to ask some questions:
“Dudes have you seen all the sweet classic cars around here, lucky I don’t have a debit card to my 401K.”
Paul: “Hey ‘d’ when I first started I pulled a 47-hundred dollar boat with a 500-dollar truck, can’t remember exactly which but it was either a Ford with a Chevy engine, or a Chevy with a Ford engine, my first wife bought it with her $500 tax refund…”
Shaw through a Parmesan mustache, “My first tow vehicle was a 1974 Buick Skylark…”
Paul watches Shaw take another bite and, “…I was living in the commune at the time when she bought it, I used to sleep in the bed when it wasn’t raining, when it rained, it didn’t have a cap, when it rained I gathered up all my junk and piled it in the cab then I crawled in between all the stuff to sleep…”
A pea escapes Shaw’s Carbonara and is making a jail break to the door, Shaw catches it before it hits the floor, and in less than the 3 second on the table rule, so he pops it past the Parmesan ‘stache.
Paul: “…after awhile my older brother gave me his hand-me-down Mercury Monterey that Dad had bought him.”
Shaw: “I had a Caddy for a tow vehicle, after I got married in 1980, in something like 1984 my wife’s uncle gave us his old 1972 Sedan Deville, it was stupid fast, could pull a house…”
Me (A CAR GUY): “What engine.”
Shaw (NOT A CAR GUY): “A big one.”
I just look at him in pretty much the same look he gives me when I asked ‘What exactly is a crankbait thing?’”
Shaw: “Hang on…”
And then he texts his wife Polly (A CAR LADY) and she pretty much immediately sends him the factory engine spec sheet for the car.
Shaw looks at it like it is written in Italian and hands me his phone with the txt.
For the record Shaw’s Caddy tow vehicle was a sweet 472 cubic inch, 345 hp@4400 rpm, Rochester four-barrel carburetor, 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds, 9.9MPG rocket.
When I told Shaw this with my impressed voice this was his exact answer.
Yep, not a car guy.
“…and I’ll be your friend…”
After all the plates are cleared, over coffee, the conversation turns serious, at this point neither of my roommates, Paul or Shaw have made a check in this West Coast swing.
Shaw placed 66th at Sacramento, Paul 82nd.
They have spent hundreds, if not a couple thousand dollars, and have not won a dime back.
I just sit stirring my coffee, wondering who is going to make the first move, the first to open up.
It’s Shaw: “You know ‘d’ that when I take to the water I always think that I can win, when I’m on the water I’m always going for the win, but I also know I can come in first, or I can come in last.”
Paul: “I’m the same way, I know I know what I’m doing, know that I know how to fish, but I also know that this tour right now we all are facing the fiercest competition, these ole boys all know how to fish.”
Shaw: “An optimist will say I’m a pessimist and a pessimist will say I’m an optimist, but I just call myself, a realist. I know what I’m facing and I know a first-place finish is always there for me, just as surely as coming in last is waiting for me.”
I say nothing, I just write what they say down, I say nothing because I don’t have thousands of dollars on the line, I’m PAID to be here, they PAY to be here.
That’s a huge difference.
One best not spoken.
“…I’ll help you carry on…”
Paul suddenly just laughs, “You know ‘d’ thinking back on that old truck that I used as my first tow vehicle, back then I would show up for a tournament with 3 rods, just 3 rods because that was all I had.”
Shaw: “Yep me too, I think I brought 5.”
Paul: “Those 3 rods I brought, I used to wrap them myself, that was it, now, now I have 30 rods on the boat.”
And just to be honest about it, both have 30 rods on their boats and another dozen or so each that I trip over in the living room of the rental house.
I’d be shocked if we didn’t have 100 rods and reels around the joint between the two of them.
I have 4 rods and reels and I left them home.
Paul: “I wish tournaments started on the first day of practice, once I figure out the pattern, I just want to get it going.”
Shaw: “Me too, I can live with a lot less practice, I’ve been on so many bodies of water in my life I can figure things out pretty quick, I’m for one day of looking around, then drop the flag and let us go.”
When the waiter brought the check over, before Paul and Shaw could ask him to please split it 3 ways, I just reached over real quick-like and grabbed it, paid the whole dang thing myself.
Yeah, we are roommates, but we are also good friends, and so far on this trip neither one of my buddies have got a check.
Me, I’ve cashed two.
This night, this dinner, is on me.
Not as a journalist doing a story.
But as a friend.
But as a friend.
“…you just call on me brother.”
Lean On Me