Oldfish

Oldfish hangs there (hang? is there? When you’re surrounded by water permanently so that you no longer even perceive it, you can’t really say swim, especially when you’re not swimming, but you can’t say ‘float’ either, not if you’re a fish, because floating… floating is the last thing a fish does, if you know what I mean, floating is just another word for turning the belly to the light, for meeting the gulls, for taking the air (except, of course, if your swim bladder goes and you lose bouyancy and sink instead, drift down, your sphere of visibility (I almost wrote sphere of light, which sounds too metaphysical) shrinking to darkness as the sunlight weakens and visibility decreases due to increased density of suspended particles in the surrounding water (which remember you don’t perceive, being ubiquitous) drift down to, finally, the bottom of this bottomless lake and stop and hear nothing but the sounds of life coming from far away until they fade away)… we’ll just say is) Oldfish is there at the center of his sphere of visibility thinking about how language brings him no joy anymore. Language used to be a thrill all the time. Not that language no longer interests him. It remains his primary way of experiencing and manipulating his world. He is hardwired for that. He remarked, he felt unexpected pride and an upswell of love when he remarked a while ago about how a reason he sometimes spoke slowly in conversation or felt it hard to keep up with a group talking fast was because everything he heard was seized upon by his mind and the language analyzed and dismantled to its constituent parts and each of them held up to the light and turned this way and that and the refractions observed and the different potential meanings and intentions regarded and correlated and catalogued, puns in this column, malapropisms here in this pile, etc., possible intended hidden meanings and double entendres and triple entendres… and Youngfish said, Aha that’s where I have it from! (meaning, Oldfish concluded, less a hard and fast belief in genetics than a feeling of (familial and occupational and etc.) relation. It was a loving (love of Oldfish, love of language) thing to say and made Oldfish happy, despite his declining interest in language, because language continued to and would always define him before anything else (surrounded him and permeated him like water, but a water he was conscious of and took great pleasure in swimming in, now maybe less than before, but still) as he continued to be here in his sphere of visibility, the dimensions of which varied according to several variables including depth (distance from source of light – sun or moon), density of matter suspended in the water (affected by depth, activity in the lake – churning by swimmers or boats, for example – season (more leaves and other debris in the fall, as well as lower angle of sunlight) and into which at any moment — this is another fact that defined him, that explained or was used as an excuse for what had a different cause, his anxiety, his hypervigilance — Bigfish could swim, appear suddenly, in which case either It was all over or Evasive action was taken or Bigfish was interested in something else and You lucked out, but You never know, in the end, until it is too late, or not too late. Oldfish hears further than he sees, he swims, his sphere of visibility moves, shrinks in the murk by the shore where teenaged humans swim and kick up mud and splash, grows toward the center of the lake until you get to the shady side then darker again although clearer water. Oldfish sees the furthest near the center of the lake, on the line between sun and shadow and there he remains a while, not basking, maybe resting, maybe eating a Smallfish, or a bug. Maybe thinking. Somewhere is Bigfish, but here is sun, and cool shade.

Fly fishing in Austria

Man and woman standing in creek, both wearing waders, holding fishing poles.

Woman: Oh, he’s a big fella.

Man: Where? Oh, he’s big.

The big fella swims deep, nosing the gravel of the creek bed with singular concentration.

Most of the time, that’s his whole world: gravel.

Man: What’s he looking for?

Woman: Periwinkles? May-flies?

Gravel, gravel, gravel. Rarely, something shiny or something bright catches the big fella’s eye and he leaves the creek bed and swims to the surface and there’s a small splash and a dragonfly disappears, or sometimes a lure of chrome or polished brass.

Incomplete list of shiny things that have caught the big fella’s attention:

  • The phrase “better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt” (as a child);
  • The idea of going through life without leaving any footprints (as an older child);
  • Young woman in blue shirt eating a banana in a cafeteria (back in college);
  • Falling stars;
  • Heat lightning;
  • Fireflies;
  • Certain people;
  • The phrase, “as you live your days so do you live your life” (somewhat recently);
  • The phrase, “your problem is you think you have time” (more recently)

Man: Where’d he go?

Woman: Into that shady pool, I think.

 

 

Little-known facts about the flounder

  • flounderxFlounder are a flexible fish, not limiting themselves to a single species. In the Western Atlantic you have your summer flounder (Paralichtys dentatus), your southern flounder (Paralichtys lethostigma) and the winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus). In addition, there is the European Platichthys flesus, and the Paralichtys olivaceus off Japan.
  • In addition, the flounder is sometimes also called a fluke.
  • But if you say “It was only a fluke,” a flounder will kill your ass.
  • Which is not to say flounders are without a sense of humor. Most flounder jokes start with the phrase, “Peter Falk and Sammy Davis Jr. walk into a bar…”
  • The eye thing: this is called metamorphosis. Like most people, the flounder grows up, changes its habits and spends its adulthood with one cheek to the seabed looking out for stuff. The eye on the seabed side migrates to the other side somehow.
  • They are looking for predators, and prey, and that actress who plays Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood.
  • The flounder is crazy about its offspring. Not even a grizzly would go between a flounder and its young, this is in fact one reason grizzlies are rarely found on the sea bed at any depth, from shallow coastal waters to the Marianas Trench, unlike flounder.
  • The flounder likes its young in a vast variety of ways, and is deeply hurt when its young treat it like a cash dispenser because to be reduced from such a huge variety of affection to a single aspect is painful to the fish, but it recovers quickly and forgets all about it, pretty much.
  • The flounder has, although it still considers basic social dancing competency an important skill, come to the conclusion that it would rather be whipped than take dance lessons. With sort of a medium whip, nothing too wild.
  • Flounder look friendly and harmless, which benefits them because they ambush their prey. Also they blend into their environment, because they can never remember how to spell “camouflague” “camouflage”.
  • Flounder stocks overfishing blah blah blah.

Little-known facts about the Sheepshead porgy

  • Most important fact: the sheepshead porgy belongs to the Sparidae family, so don’t fucking fuck with it.
  • According to Wikipedia, the sheepshead porgy is the most celebrated sea bream, culinarily. Hence the picture here, geddit?
  • Also according to Wikipedia, the sheepshead porgy is found only in the Atlantic, and “its teeth are of like a sheep’s.”
  • That’s all.
  • But according to the Internet, the sheepshead porgy, or Calamus penna, is also sometimes called a mutton snapper, making it one of few marine creatures with multiple cool names.
  • Seriously. “Hey, you little mutton snappers, get off my lawn!”
  • The sheepshead porgy likes it warm, so we’re talking Gulf, Caribbean, South America, stuff like that.
  • Max. length = 46 cm, max. published weight 1 kg.
  • Driving to work this morning, the sheepshead porgy saw a billboard advertising a newspaper, reading, in large letters, “Mehr Trends, mehr Lifestyle, mehr TV”, and wondered if that was likely in the current day and age. More trends? The sheepshead porgy imagined a trend to fewer trends and less lifestyle, and more authenticity. The sheepshead porgy imagined people getting sick of TV, and the Internet, and other entertainment, and taking things into their own hands. The sheepshead porgy became giddy, and just missed a streetcar.
  • The sheepshead porgy also imagined a trend toward finally taxing, significantly, dumbfucks with so much money they have nothing better to do with it than speculate with it on Wall St. The sheepshead porgy differentiates between investors, who invest in companies, which is a useful activity, and jackasses who are just speculating in order to get rich. If they have nothing better to do with their money than that, they should be relieved of it by society, which does have something better to do with it, namely build an infrastructure, feed the starving, educate the seething masses, shorten the work week, build grocery rockets, good stuff like that.
  • Juveniles often found in sea grass. Juvenile delinquents often found loitering in convenience store parking lots.
  • It is silvery, and marketed fresh and frozen.