Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tangled Small Talk: Existential Fish

Hoo boy. I'm exhausted. I have been unleashed on the unsuspecting general public today far more than I am generally comfortable with so of course, it's time for another installment of Tangled Small Talk.

This weekend is the world famous Seattle Edible Book Festival. I entered last year and resoundingly lost so of course, I will be entering again this year. My jBird is, too. It's a family nerd thing. She's had her idea for months and I had been wracking my brains to no avail when suddenly one day at the library, a book leaped out at me and made me giggle. So now I have my book. Shh. Top secret. More on that later. But all of this is why, when I was at the grocery store today, I decided to harass the fish monger.

Me: Um, hello. Can I buy a whole sole?
Fishmonger: [Blank, open-mouthed stare.]
Hooligan: I have a soul! Why do you want to buy a soul?!
Me: No, the fish.
Hooligan: Are we having fish for dinner?! I don't really like fish, you know. [begins playing hopscotch on the floor tiles and chanting] Step on a crack, break a sole's back!
Fishmonger: A whole sole? [gestures vaguely toward the giant stack of beautiful fillets of sole in the case.]
Me: Yes. A whole sole. Like the trout you have here, only a sole. [At this point, I can't stop saying "sole". I want to say it over and over without reason. I have spent the better part of the day talking to strangers in uncomfortably hot rooms and listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds*. Which might have been a mistake before some impromptu sole shopping.]
Fishmonger: No. We don't sell whole soles.
Me: Oh. Well, do you know who might?
Fishmonger: [looking over his shoulder as if for the cameras or some other explanation for the woman and the hopscotching Hooligan who want to buy his soul] I don't know. I don't think you can get whole soles. I think they just come in fillets.
Me: [imagining these ghostly white fillets of sole flapping about like amoebas underwater. I'm shocked by this mental image and possibly sound a wee bit more confrontational than I intended] What do you mean? They come in fillets? Surely they're whole at some point. Like a fish. [I added a little flappy hand motion to illustrate my point.]
Monkfish. Now that's a big-ass fish. It would eat your sole.
photo courtesy fishingkites.co.nz
Fishmonger: [I kid you not, taking a wary step backward and clearly losing his composure.] Well, who buys a whole sole? That's a big-ass fish.
Me: [Because I can't seem to stop myself for love or money.] Like how big? Like Salmon big? Monkfish big? [I am also gesticulating wildly to show the variety of sizes among fish.]
Fishmonger: [Deep sigh.] I don't know. Big. We have the fillets. See the fillets? Hey Todd!
Todd: [Interrupts his shakedown of another store employee for her part of the store's March Madness pool.] Yeah, man?
Fishmonger: How big is a sole?
Todd and Another Store Employee stop and gape openly at me. I gape back. Hooligan continues hopscotching and talking to the lobsters in the tank.
Todd: Ummmm...
Fishmonger: No, like the fish. [He clearly understood the possibly existential undertones of his question.]
Hooligan: I don't want to eat fish for dinner. Can we get a lobster?
Todd: I don't think they're that big. Did you see the fillets?
Me: Well, that's what I thought. Isn't the fillet like its whole side? [In case anyone in the meat department didn't understand what a fillet was, I turn and demonstrate on my own side where the fillet would come from.]
Todd: Uh, yeah. I could probably special order a sole for you but it might take a while.
Me: Thanks, but I don't have a while. I need a sole by this weekend. [I realize exactly what this sounds like.] Come on, Hooligan, let's go find some vegetables I can knit with. Thank you for your help!

Alas, I will have to try again tomorrow and frighten another fishmonger by attempting to purchase his whole soul. All in the name of edible literary art. I'm sure this happens to everyone.


*There is heated debate in some circles about whether this song is about drugs or about the devil. Of course, as everyone knows all rock and roll songs are about drugs and the devil and sometimes sex. So it's really sort of a moot point. 

20 comments:

  1. How do you do this???? This is so funny! I can see the scene now and having Hooligan playing hopscotch is so cosmic -- what the hell is edible literary art? I have a feeling we are going to get that answer.... I hope so.
    Thanks for a laugh at 4 stupid thirty in the morning!

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    1. You are right, you will get the answer. All in due time. For now, you can click the link for it in the post and it will satisfy some of your curiosity. It is very important to laugh at 4 stupid thirty in the morning. Otherwise, there would be tears.

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  2. Snort. This is the kind of thing I find unreasonably funny. "Can I buy a whole sole?" Snort. People will start wondering why I am sorting at some point...

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    1. My husband just thinks I have a cocaine problem when I read TangledLou...

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    2. Tara - "unreasonably funny" is precisely what it is. I have had the giggles for days just thinking about it.
      Marianne - That might just be one of the greatest compliments I've received on this blog!

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  3. Yeah, what IS edible literary art? And that whole fishmonger/hooligan/sole/sould thing played out in my head and just made me smile! thanks!

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    1. Check out the link in the post. More details to follow.

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  4. Hahaha! That aas awesome! The poor fishmonger has been hanging out too much with the fish and is getting accustomed to having his mouth gape open.
    And Seattle seems to have the most awesome events! This week(end)? there was the veg fest right? I wanted to go but we ended up being lazy and sleeping instead.

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    1. We do have the most awesome events around here. Most of the time we do just what you guys did - think about it and then sleep in. This is one of my few exceptions.

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  5. This was hilarious. It's like you walked into a Neil Gaiman story, where souls may be purchased from beefy fish-mongers. Awesome.

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  6. I think it's adorable that your Hooligan knows he has a soul.

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    1. I know, right? He's all soul, that one is.

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  7. Ha! I love it! Wish I could have been there...oh wait, I just was, cause your detail was so great. Even better than being a fly on the wall, because we got to have a taste of your thoughts as well.

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    1. Such nice things to say. Glad I could provide a giggle. Who needs fiction when real life acts like this?!

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  8. Hilarious! I am imagining you showing your side in the grocery store...and wishing I could have been there to watch!

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    1. Fortunately, I had the wherewithal to keep my side clothed while demonstrating where my fillet would be.

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  9. I laughed over the whole sole story, but this last line made my eyes water...."all rock and roll songs are about drugs and the devil and sometimes sex"....reminded me of my childhood stuck listening to the Bill Gaither Trio!

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    1. Ha! I love that you picked up on that. I read Pat Boone's biography when I was 11. Fortunately, my parents' tolerance for music was a little more lenient than that of some of their peers. I could listen to Chicago and Huey Lewis, too. But no Prince or Madonna.

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  10. As someone once sent to the grocery store in pursuit of "milk, green peppers, spaghetti sauce, and Hope!," I can kind of understand the complications inherent in your request.

    Regarding the mandatory requirement that all rock-and-roll songs refer at least obliquely to drugs, the devil or sex--or sometimes a spectacular combination of all three, you are aware that the song "Hey Jude" is totally about heroin addiction, right? Not a sweet song to a kid confused by his parents' divorce? One of my residents informed me of that on a recent van ride pointing to "You've got to let her under your skin..." (of course she is heroin!) and "Let it out and let it in..." (which OBVIOUSLY is about the plunger of a needle!). So, now you know. ;)

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