Once, a few year back, I was invited to go fishing with a group of men who fished a lot. They knew the gear, they knew the technology, they knew the lingo, and they knew where to go and what to do once they got there.
I didn't go fishing, and knew none of these things. Oh, I knew a little about fishing. When I was a kid, my dad took me many times, but all I had was a cane pole, a cork bobber, a hook, and a few unsuspecting worms. However, in the intervening years the likes of Bass Pro and Cabela's emerged taking the science of fishing light-years past me.
Anyway, I agreed to go with the guy group when asked, because I wanted to be a part of the comraderie and the male bonding thing that came with the experience. At first I declined, confessing to the inviter - his name was Chuck - that I was ignorant and unskilled in this sport, fearing I'd make a fool of myself. He slapped me on the back and said, "Bah, it's not hard. We'll show you what to do. You'll catch on. Don't worry about it." Then he laughed heartily.
So I went. And I learned a life lesson: sportsmen, as a rule, like to take along greenhorns on their outings. Oh sure, it gives them the chance to show off their skills by mentoring on a few things, but it also gives them the opportunity to expose and exploit the greenhorn's greenhorniness...wait, let me rephrase that - his greenhornedness. I suppose it makes them feel superior. I also suppose the teasing, laughing at, and practical joking is sort of an initiation thing, sort of a rite of passage into the Man Club.
I remember fishing on the shoreline the morning after good-naturedly enduring a day and night of hazing when Chuck came up beside me. He flipped his line out into the lake and sat down on big rock. I think Chuck wanted me to know I'd passed muster and had earned this particular badge toward my Man Card. I think he wanted to reassure me that what we were doing was no great mystery.
"You know," Chuck said with a twinkle in his eye. "There's a fine line between fishing, and just standing on the shore looking stupid."
I've always appreciated Chuck's words of wisdom. Like most words of wisdom, you can take them several ways. That's why they're wise.
So here I am standing on the shores of Lake Blogosphere ready to cast my line into the water. I have a little bit of knowledge about what's going on, but for the most part, I don't have a clue. I'm a greenhorn. Hopefully, there's a Chuck or two out there amongst the hazers who will let me know when I'm fishing, and when I'm just looking stoopid.