Fish feast of memory

July 30, 2008

The media feeding frenzy over tiny carp performing pedicures strikes me as gluttonous as the fish themselves. Then again the story’s a talker, an offbeat news morsel. (How many bad food puns can I stuff in these sentences?)

At the gym today, I couldn’t escape the story. It beamed from two TV screens. But I wasn’t going to end my workout just because watching the fish dine on Kathy Lee Gifford’s feet and thinking about her calluses as food made my stomach churn.

I closed my eyes and moved faster on the elliptical machine, trying to lose myself in the Fleet Foxes. What I found was a long way from Portland: summer days in a lake as a kid.

Florida. The early sixties. My two brothers and I lounge in Sybelia’s bathwater shallows on our tiny beach, the air damp with the hot smell of marsh. We stay still. Minnows as clear as glass venture near. They nibble whatever exposed flesh they fancy, as if we’re meat run aground. It’s a game: they eat, we watch, they lose their fear, we catch them in our hands.

And then it’s on to some other game. We swim into deep water, sleek big fish gliding along the bottom through oases of cool water.