Saturday, March 12, 2005

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

When school was out for the summer and my mom and dad had dropped my sister and I off for their yearly two week vacation from parenthood, my grandpa would take us fishing at generic Illinois watering holes. Read: muddy pools of shallow water surrounded by yellow and brown prairie farmland, baking in the humid summer sun, utterly indistinguishable from any other stretch of central Illinois land. My sister and I would pile excitedly into the chewing tobacco scented cab of his white pickup truck, filled to the brim with the anticipation of feeling that tug on the line that meant we’d caught our very own fish - knowing that nothing is more disappointing than going fishing and catching nothing.

I may have been the worst fisherman in the whole world. First, I didn’t even really like fish. Second, I refused to touch or even look at bait. Third, I refused to touch or get within 3 feet of a live fish. Fourth, I refused to allow any fish, no matter how puny, to be thrown back. My grandpa used to try to combat this thoroughly un-sportsmanlike tendency by insisting that whatever we caught, we’d have to eat, which would have been an effective tactic had my grandmother not eased the burden by frying them in cornmeal and serving them with more than our weekly recommended serving of ketchup on the side. Everything’s better with ketchup. Even 4-inch long blue gills.

I look back on this childhood tendency with a sense of beautiful irony as I review my relationship history. It seems an apt metaphor for how I approach, pursue, and/or deal with men.

There’s the be-my-mom fish. There’s the be-my-psychologist fish. There’s the be-my-own-personal-Jesus fish. There’s the eternal-enigma fish. There’s the I-don’t-dig-girls fish. There’s the OCD fish. There’s the maybe-another-time fish. There’s the maybe-in-another-life fish. There's the already-been-caught-and-thrown-back-scarred-
beyond-all-recognition fish. There’s the I-haven’t-seen-you-for-8-years-and-barely-
remember-your-name-we-should-get-together-for-coffee fish. There’s the booty-call fish. There’s the occasional school of hi-nice-smile-I-read-your-profile-and-saw-some-
common-interest fishes. There are bizarre two and three headed mutant combinations of these and others, all of them thrown in the cooler with the others, indiscriminately, in faith that one day, I’ll catch something worth eating ketchup-free.

Because I really do love sushi.

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