My wife was traumatized recently when a worm, with malice aforethought and reckless disregard for the person sticking a hook through its body, pooped all over her hand.

“What’s that,” she said, staring in horror at the black line of worm poop. It was one of those deals when the person asking a question actually knew the answer to the question, only they didn’t want to accept what the answer was.

“What do you think it is?” I asked her.

“Is that worm poop?” she asked, verifying she had known all along. For the record, my wife insists she doesn’t cuss, so, even though I could have sworn I heard her use another word to describe worm manure other than “poop”, I am assured under penalty of never hearing the end of it, that I did not.

“That is worm poop, all right?” I told her.

“Why did it poop on me?” Again, my wife is a devout Christian who would never use a crass term to describe something, even if that something was poop. Once again, my ears deceived me.

Let me also take a line or two to explain that my wife is an intelligent woman. She undoubtedly knew exactly why the worm let her have it. She was clearly in a state of worm poop denial.

“Well,” I told her. “I’m guessing it had something to do with you sticking a hook in it.”

“Worms poop on you when you hook them?”

“Wouldn’t you?”

My wife was not exactly new to fishing. At the time of the atrocity, she and I had been fishing together for years. I was her official hook baiter and fish removal technician for just about all of that time. Things changed when we bought a farm with a small pond. Until then we fished together once in a while. Now we were wandering down to the pond practically every day to fish. After a few weeks of manning both fishing rods, I decided it was time we enacted an “every man for himself” philosophy.

She did not exactly jump for joy, but she agreed to give it a try.

The first thing she did was buy “fishing” gloves.

“What,” I asked her, “are fishing gloves?”

It turns out, fishing gloves are gloves you put on while fishing in the event that at some point during the fishing process you must actually come in contact with a fish. A she explained it, they protect the wearer from “fish slime.” As a side benefit they also protect the wearer from coming in contact with worms or crickets.

Her first selection of fish gloves was not a good one. They were gardening gloves. They were kind of stiff which made it difficult to manipulate a fish. It was nearly impossible to stick your fingers in a fish mouth and remove a hook. Forget trying to pick up a worm or cricket much less fasten one to a hook.

She went with a latex gardening type glove next. She liked them a lot because they were patterned with festive spring colors. They didn’t work perfectly, but they were better than the original fish gloves. It seemed she had the answer to her fish handling problem. Where her fish gloves failed her, though, is when it came to live bait. Fish gloves, even the most festively colored ones, aren’t made for handling worms or crickets.

She struggled mightily with baiting hooks. So much so, that I was once again baiting her hooks for her. Reluctantly, she came to the decision that she would have to bare-hand the bait.

A week or so passed without incident (or, not to put too fine a point on it: a week or so passed without anything passing). That’s when the worm, who lacked the intestinal fortitude (literally) to accept his fate with the grim resolve you come to expect from his kind, released his salvo of digested dirt.

I offered her my shirt sleeve. She didn’t hesitate to take it and frantically wiped the poop off of her hand. I toyed with pointing out to her that the worm was the one who got the worst end of the deal, but I don’t think she was ready to listen to anyone waxing philosophically. Besides, I didn’t want to sleep that night with one eye open.

Over time she decided to ditch the fishing gloves altogether and grimly resolved to suffer the slings and arrows of fishing barehanded. On occasion a worm let’s her have it. She still doesn’t like it, but at least my shirt sleeve is always at hand.