The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant

by W. D. Wetherell
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What threatens to ruin the narrator's dream night in "The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant"?

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What threatens to ruin the narrator's dream night is, ironically, his catching a huge bass.

In "The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant" by W. D. Wetherell, the narrator finally gets up the courage to ask out Sheila Mant, on whom he has had a crush all summer; but as they are canoeing to a concert, the narrator catches a huge bass that breaks his heart far more than Sheila does.

The narrator has been trying to impress Sheila all summer. He is fourteen, and she is seventeen, so she ignores him completely. Finally, though, he asks her if she wants to go to a concert with him. Since he can't drive, he takes her by canoe. Sheila is definitely less than impressed. She continually talks about her experiences with older guys and her desire to be a model. She also talks about how much she despises fishing.

The narrator, in contrast, loves to fish, and not long after Sheila says that fishing is dumb, he manages to catch a huge bass (even as he is trying to hide his fishing rod). The narrator makes all sorts of maneuvers with the canoe to try to keep the bass on his line as he is thinking about what to do next, and by this point he is pretty much ignoring Sheila.

Eventually, he discovers that there is nothing he can do. He can't reel the fish into the boat, and he can't take it to the concert with him. So he cuts the line, and it almost breaks his heart.

The narrator's date doesn't go as planned, and Sheila goes home with an older guy with a Corvette. By this point, though, the narrator doesn't really care. He is no longer interested in Sheila Mant. He has learned an important lesson, and he says that he will never make "the same mistake again."

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