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I was instantly smitten with “Doris.”

I met her in an antique store in New Hampshire. She caught my eye as soon as I walked into the place. My heart fluttered and I knew we would eventually be together.

I tried to play it cool, talking with my friend Ken, pretending to ignore her. But every time I tried to steal a glance her way, she was looking back at me with a distinctly “come hither” look.

I eventually made my move. I introduced myself and took her in my hand. It felt perfect, just as I expected. After the requisite small talk with the lady she was with, I took her home.

Despite my experience, I was nervous as I removed her outer coverings. At one point, as strange as it sounds, I excused myself and texted a couple of buddies seeking advice on how to best get her going without risk of irrevocably insulting her. The responses I got ranged in level of usefulness and tact, so I followed my instincts and proceeded carefully and delicately. In no time at all, she was purring contently and I was grinning ear to ear.

A small squirt of brake cleaner was all it took to get her moving.

Over the next week, we spent time together in my back yard, her doing her thing, me doing mine, two parts of a better whole. I rarely spoke to her, but the magic was undeniable. We both knew it was only a matter of time before we took the next, critical, step. We had to go fishing together.

“Doris,” (my pet name for her, chosen because it was befitting of both her era and the understated grace with which she carried herself) I said, “tomorrow’s the day. We will seal our fate, one way or another.” She gleamed silently.

It was a warm, sunny day with a constant wind that, under other circumstances, might have frustrated me. But this was Doris’s first fishing foray in many years (how many she could not say). She was anxious to do well, and I was committed to being patient and to seeing her through it.

Over the next few hours, I gradually learned to adjust to her frailties. I concentrated on staying positive and avoiding the tougher challenges. If I could help it, Doris would not have to cast into the wind or be subject to the stress of a snagged line. It turns out that I fretted needlessly. Doris, for the most part, did just fine. Again and again we cast together, looking to land the monster fish we could call our own.

In the end, I was tired. And Doris was stiff. So stiff she could barely function.

We caught five fish that day, and although there were no monsters, I was satisfied that Doris would play some role in my life. How big of a role depends both on my ability to cure her stiffness and how she performs next month on our annual trip to Lake Champlain. There is no avoiding the monsters at Lake Champlain.

Doris and I with our first fish. Submitted photos