Poetry

i wish i was like you

i like fish, the food.

my family is fishermen and i grew up around fish

bateau, pirogue, fishing poles, tackle, guts

fresh fish and the men who catch them do smell sort of… bad

theyll tell you it just smells “like the ocean” but

it’s not exactly a lie except the ocean kind of

reeks a little bit

Not to me

I love the smell of the ocean and of gutted fish

but I accept that many people don’t enjoy the smell

I grew up eating catfish, flounder, redfish and trout which dont smell too much but they do smell and I love the smell

All these fish are different but somehow when I first had salmon, mahi mahi and cod as an adult it wasn’t as if I was eating something incredibly new. They tasted also like fish.

Then I had anchovies and other rank salted fish. Love them. I like rank fish better than mild fish. I love fish skin and crispy fish fins.

Lots of people hate fish and the smell of fish. I found this out growing up in Florida of all places. Florida on the snowy gilded Gulf Coast. Where you might see a lovely  marlin arch out of the glittering water!

I learned a lot of people find fish disgusting. I love fish but other people hate it and think it’s  gross.

Here’s what I dont do when I find out someone dislikes or even is repulsed by fish.

1. I don’t offer them fish. Because they don’t like it so there’s no point. I don’t demand they try fish.

2. I don’t condescendingly lecture them about the wide varieties of fish and fish preparations  in the world and insist that their existence means no one can categorically dislike fish. Catfish tastes different from sardines and I like both because they’re both fish. If I can like fish in general someone can hate fish in general.

3. I don’t tell them they haven’t found the right fish, implying that someone should try endless variations on a food that disgusts them until by default they begin to bear it or discover, following gustatory agony, a version they like. This is rightly called culinary torture.

4. I don’t quiz them for a loophole in their dislike. I don’t say “Not even fishsticks” or something desperate like that. If they do like fishsticks I don’t claim triumph shouting “SEE YOU DO LIKE FISH!” I just accept that in general they dislike fish but sometimes enjoy fishsticks.

5. I don’t tell them they only dislike fish because they haven’t had the finest line caught trout at the height if the season, hand prepared by my authentic Cajun grandmère. I don’t sneer and groan at their bad experiences with frozen seafood or Long John Silvers (even though I know they’re terrible). I assume they don’t like fish because they don’t like it.

6. I don’t take it personally that they dislike fish and think it’s gross. I understand why they think it’s gross…

I understand because I hate cheese and beer and mashed potatoes. These foods, unlike fish, are legally required to be consumed once a day to remain an American citizen. These are also foods, unlike fish, that white people cannot live without.

Cheese and beer are two of the most disgusting smelling things in existence. In terms of foulness a fresh cheese or beer puts a fresh bit of fish to shame.

But beer is the worst.

Beer smells like cat urine rotting on wheat litter. I have had the misfortune of actually, consistently inhaling such an aroma and it always reminded me of a beer. Beer smells of men who don’t like to hear the word no. And even if just compared to other favorite beverages of predatory men, like a beautiful caramel flavored Bourbon… it still reeks of piss.

My husband drinks fancy well rated dark beers. I lost a bet and I had to take a sip once. I planned on drinking much of it. I wanted to believe I was insane. I wanted to be a cool wife who browses beer advocate and jots down tasting notes. I failed. The first taste was of burnt cigarettes. Then burnt coffee.  And some chocolate. It’s was what I assume runoff must taste like, a mixture of poisons, motor oil, ashes and food waste. And it reeked and had this pointless tasteless foamy carbonationy texture. A soda made of sodden mildewy grass. I recall a woman who survived the brutal war in Darfur reporting she was forced to drink the blood of the dead for lack of fresh water. When people say beer is refreshing I assume that would be the circumstances of their thirst. Most readily available tap water tastes better than beer.

A sip of wine or whiskey or tequila or grapefruit juice or even Coca-Cola has a deep full flavor. You almost don’t need a second mouthful. But you want one because the first was so intensely flavored. Beer is the opposite. It has a yawning empty canyon of taste across which float thin clouds of beswirled nastiness. It’s dilute like carbonated water dirtied  by the scant random syrup leavings and mold in the catch tray of a soda fountain. It would be better to just drink a plain glass of clear water. You don’t drink another mouthful because it might taste like chocolate or it might taste like cigarette butts or it might taste like someone stirred all purpose flour and bicarbonate of soda into a glass of lukewam cow piss.

Plain whiskey is like liquid candy. There’s no WTF DID I JUST DRINK, TOILET WATER OR WHISKEY moment when drinking it. I admit my taste of beer was similar to wine, but wine’s wannabe, poser cousin made of far worse materials. Poor wine can be made into punch but beer, good or horrible, can only be made into bad memories.

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