Ducky’s Wives

Garry's Outdoor Kicks & Grins - June 2023

Garry Bowers | May 30, 2023

I think I’ve mentioned before about the inordinate number of times Ducky Jones has been married. Suffice to say, you can’t walk into a local grocery store, church or bar without running into one of his ex-wives. So it should not have been a surprise when we were sitting on my porch, stripping our fly reels and cleaning fly line in preparation for a bream fishing trip, when he off-handedly mentioned he was getting married again.

I responded, “Ducky, you can’t do that! You’re already married!”

He replied. “No I’m not. I divorced so and so last winter. You remember.”

I lied, “Oh, yeeaaah.”

Note that he did not actually call her so and so. Over the years and his endless parade of spouses (I still think the plural of spouse should be spice), I have developed a defensive mechanism to protect my fragile brain from overload—I simply ignore their names. I used to call them all ‘Darlin’ so as not to call one by the wrong name, but I read somewhere that a politically correct woke feminist sued a co-worker who did that and won a load of money. I am not a rich man, so if I do not know the name of a woman I should know the name of, I just say, “Hey, you… so and so.” Just to be on the safe side.

Anyway, I suggested, “Duck, have you considered settling down and staying single?” The cotton pad he was using on his weight-forward Cortland line froze, his mouth dropped open slightly and he just stared at the decking. I thought for a moment he was having a heart attack. But it became obvious he was registering temporary mental shock at my question. He looked up at me and asked, sincerely, “Why would I do that?”

I replied, “For one thing, I don’t know if you realize this, but we’re getting on up in years, Ducky. I have been to most all of your nuptials. At the last two, you have danced the twist at your wedding reception. That is a clear sign you are too old to get married.”

He dipped the pad into the cleaner tin and started rubbing again, harder and with renewed purpose. “I know this,” he growled. “Anyone who uses the term ‘nuptials’ is too old to be making suggestions to me. I know we’re the same age, but I’m not as old as you are. Unlike yourself, I can still walk to the mailbox without a cane. And the last time I went to the opti… otho… opthi… eye doctor, I didn’t have to get new glasses. Just last week, my urologist said I have the prostate of a 60-year-old.”

I interrupted, “After the exam, did you ask him if you two were engaged?”

He looked puzzled. “No, why?”

I said, “Never mind.”

“Ducky, why did you and your last so and so, er, wife break up?”

He studied a moment and said, “It was a love rectangle.”

“Don’t you mean triangle?”

He said, “No, it was a he-said, she-said, he-said, she-said sort of thing. It’s hard to explain.”

“Sort of like why you’re re-spooling your line backward on your reel?”

He looked down in amazement and exclaimed, “Dang!”

I knew he was getting flustered with the whole subject, so I tried to lighten it up a little. “Doesn’t your new fiance have the same name as one of your ex’s?”

He brightened a little. “She is one of my ex’s!” He grinned.

We were silent for a moment. I said, “It’s official. You are insane!”

He countered, “Are you hinting that I’m stupid?”

“No, Ducky, I am stating it outright. You’ve been through a gazillion wives. And I’m not counting the two that were annulled. One because she already had two husbands… and I forgot what the other one was…”

I stumbled to a halt. Ducky jumped in, “The other failed to disclose her previous imprisonment for abuse of a corpse.”

“Oh yeah,” I remembered. “That was wrong on so many levels. Anyway, it didn’t work with any of them, and you’re going for a repeat performance with one?”

He was re-spooling his fly line again, but got this faraway look in his eyes and said, “Do you remember when we leased that 50 acres to deer hunt on a few years back? When we scouted it, we had never seen so many scrapes and rubs and beds and trails and absolutely huge prints. But when we started hunting, we saw nary an antler. For what, three or four weeks?”

“I remember, Duck.”

He continued, “And on the last day of the season, I took that 225-lb., 12-point beauty?”

“Yeah, Ducky, I remember it well. It’s all you talked about for months. What’s that got to do with remarrying an ex-wife?”

He hesitated. “I’m not sure. When I started telling that story, it had a point. But I forgot. I think it had something to do with not giving up.”

I just shook my head. “You gave up on all of them. Why this one?”

“I’ll tell you. When we were dating, way back when, I met her one day after work at a pond we fished a lot. She had been there about an hour before I arrived. She was standing on the dam, crying. Scared the crap out of me. I thought she was hurt. You know, drove a hook in her hand or something. But when I got to her, she told me she had just lost the biggest bass she had ever seen. On the fourth or fifth jump. She was standing there blubbering like a baby. That’s when I fell in love with her. Never should have let her get away.”

I was in awe. “She was crying because she lost a bass?” He shook his head, obviously lost in memory. “Dang, Ducky, I think I might be in love with her.”

We both imagined that scene for a moment. I broke the silence. “Was she that tall, skinny gal with the black hair?”

“Naw, that was so and so. She was that slightly overweight blond with the buck teeth. You remember her.”

I lied again, “Oh yeah. Real looker.”

“By the way,” said Ducky, “You gonna be my best man again, right?”

“Ducky, the only time I haven’t been was once when you sent me to the wrong church and once when I was leading in that bass tournament. Otherwise, I’ve always been there for you. Before your third wedding, I even went out and bought a suit just for your weddings. And that was a traumatic experience. Hate suits.”

He said, “Your loyalties are appreciated. Now, if you can’t make it, let me know and I’ll get Rufus.”

“Who the heck is Rufus?”

“That’s my third cousin, twice removed.”

I replied, “I’ve never understood that numbered relative stuff. How does that work?”

“Well, I know he’s my third cousin because my Mama said he was and I know he was twice removed because my Aunt kicked him out of the house two times. Anyway, he’s kind of weird.”

“Runs in the family, I guess.”

He mumbled, “Huh?”

“Never mind. No, Duck, you won’t have to get your weird cousin. I’ll be there.”

I then attached an eyelet to my fly line and we had the same argument we always have about how long the leader should be.

I admitted, “I guess it is best that you get hitched again, Duck. You don’t really qualify to be a bachelor. You don’t own a microwave.”

He smiled, “I guess not.”

“And you need a woman’s touch around the house. Do you still supplement your groceries from the McDonald’s condiment bar?”

He grinned sheepishly.

“And you know, Duck, you need to be more masculine in your relationship with your new wife. I’ve seen how some of them have run over you in the past. Be more like me. I tell my wife what to do, by gosh, and if she wants to, she does it.”

He looked confused for a moment, but let it slide.

“And when you go into this rerun, Ducky, be positive. You know, ‘Carpe’ Diem.’

He thought a minute. “Seize the fish?”

“No, seize the day, Ducky, seize the day.”

He said, “You know, as many times as I have done it, those two little words still scare me to death.”

“What words?”

“I do.”

“Ducky, the only words in the English language that can hurt you are Ready, Aim, Fire.”

“Sometimes, that’s what ‘I do’ sounds like.”

About that time, my wife, so and so… I mean, Linda, came to the door and asked what we were talking about. We said, simultaneously, “Fishing.”

You can’t talk about marriage around women. They get all excited and start making plans and stuff. She heard fishing, said “Figures,” and went back in the house.

“Do you reckon we ought to start with popping bugs or rubber spiders tomorrow?”

Order the late Garry Bower’s book about growin’ up, fishin’ and huntin’ in the Deep South. Go to and search for “Dixie Days” by Garry Bowers.

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