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Friday, June 18, 2010

Fish Heads Fish Heads Roly-Poly Fish Heads

Ladies and gentlemen, inboards and outboards, having made it to the end of another fabulously fulfilling week, we find ourselves subjected, once more, to my benighted ideas regarding clairvoyance.

Do I mean these things? Do I honestly believe that my iPod, set on shuffle, delivers the tools necessary to divine the weekend’s properties?

Sure! Why not!

Black Math by White Stripes
Jesus Left Chicago by ZZ Top
Never Been to Spain by Three Dog Night
Can I Get Get Get by Junior Senior
Shotgun by Southern Culture on the Skids
Mississippi Queen by Mountain
Go Down Gamblin’ by Blood Sweat and Tears

Hmm. Outside of that first song, it feels very 70s to me. Close your eyes, won’t you? We’re sitting around a fire started in the woods somewhere. The cute guy with the pickup will be bringing a keg soon.

Maybe later, we can go rollerskating.

Tell your mom you’re staying at my house, I’ll tell my mom I’m staying at your house, and we’ll sit in the woods all night.

You know, say what you will about my many attributes – both real and imagined! – but I have quite the sense of smell. It’s true! Whether whiffing the insouciant tones of the lunch-hour drinker or dodging the nasal-passage charge of the overly perfumed, I can trust my nose.

If I were to become, somehow, a superhero, I would want a cape for my nose.

A black one. Velvet. Maybe a large gold “P” embroidered on the back, perhaps with tassels and a GPS.

I’m just thinking out loud. We can work out the details later.

But back to stinking.

I was in the elevator yesterday, mindlessly riding, as I do every Friday, from the ground floor to the 47th and back again in a feeble attempt to outrun my work load when it filled, on the ground floor, with returning smokers.

Returning smokers. The words italicize themselves, don’t they.

And that got me thinking.

When I first started working full time, I shared a cubicle with a woman who smoked. At her desk. It’s perfectly true, kids. You could smoke at your desk.

I was at this particular place of employment when the great influx of Hmong first came to Minnesota. “Boat People” we called them. They were hired by the dozens: they worked lousy jobs cheaply, never complaining, for as many hours as you needed them.

They also warmed up some really weird stuff in the microwave, things that did not sit well with my cube-mate.

“Smells like fish heads,” she’d say, wrinkling her nose.

“I think it is fish heads,” I’d say. “Fish heads and dandelions.”

To be honest, a quick look in the lunchroom while lunch was being warmed up showed that it was, indeed, fish heads and greens, possibly of the lawn variety, floating in a broth of some sort.

It stunk just as you’d suppose fish head soup would stink.

But it didn’t stink any more than the lit cigarette that smoldered at her desk all day.

We don’t smoke at our desks anymore, and the aromatic strains of fish head soup have gone the way of my dad’s lard-and-salt-and-pepper sandwiches, which, while not nearly as smelly as the soup, served the same purpose: something that cost next to nothing but filled the belly.

Come to think of it, there’s more than one way to stink.


Simply Suthern said...

Oh, man, I remember the smoke at your desk days. Where I worked then had smokers sign up for a class on quitting. Those that were still not smoking after 2 months got a bonus. HUH?? Then they banned smoking the next month. Having never smoked aside from down by the lake with my buddies that day, I am glad they did away with it. But thats me. Oddly enuff tho they never got around to banning the fish head stew our resident asian seemed to enjoy entirely way to much.

mapstew said...

I remember smoking on planes!
Feck sake! Smoking on planes!

Have a great weekend! :¬)


Pearl said...

Don't forget smoking in theaters. Yikes.

Diane said...

I was quietly remembering the smoking at work, then you said something about your dad's lard. salt & pepper sandwiches?!? Eww! The fish head soup sounds better!

Pearl said...

Diane, :-) My dad's family was sincerely poor, and when they ran out of just about everything, you took a piece of bread, warmed up the leftover lard/grease in the frying pan, dipped the bread in it (just for the taste, you understand), added salt and pepper, some onion if you had it, and YUM. YOu think you're eating something that isn't there. Called a "wish sandwich".


Seriously. They were poor.

Bossy Betty said...

Oh man! Just when I learned to type on my computer and hold my cig at the same time!

Jon said...

We could smoke in cinemas in London up until about 1990. We could smoke on the bus - but only upstairs. We could smoke in every restaurant and pub. About the only place we couldn't was on the Underground, but only because quiet a lot of people got killed at Kings Cross due to a carelessly discarded fag butt.

I almost miss the smell of the dreaded weed. When smoking was banned in pubs we discovered that it had been covering up things even nastier.

Charlotte Ann said...

I remember when you visited the doctor's office and shared the ashtray on his desk. yep, even the doctors' smoked in their offices. I'm happy to be a non smoker now and though I don't necessarily have the craving any longer, I still miss it but only in the sense of comradarie....and as a reward for getting something done. I would say "when I finish this I'll have a cigarette". No rewards now so I just quit doing anything at all!

Sam Liu said...

“Fish heads and dandelions"...certainly an odd combination, but I'm with you...I'd rather smell that than the putrid smell of cigarette smoke :D

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

You had me at 'nose cape'. When I taught in the far North the various ethnic communities that lived there would use the school on weekend for events. I was sure to go do some Saturday work and go visit them and ask if everything was okay. They thought I had some authority or something because I always was able to scam some good old home vittles. Especially when you could smell the curry wisping through the halls.

In the far far north it was seal head stew. The name gives you some idea of the main seasoning ingredient. But you had to be chief or better to get at the stewed head.

Pearl said...

Oh, Cal! Not the seal head stew!

Then again, I've had -- at my father's urging -- pickled pork feet. And guess what? The pieces with the pickled fat are best.


Anonymous said...

I am now imagining smells that I never thought were possible.

I need some emergency nose therapy.

Freshly mowed grass...
Cotton Candy...
Home made Cookies...
Line dried sheets with extra sunshine...

OK. I feel better now.

Douglas said...

Do fish heads smell any different than the rest of the fish?

I would think that a nose cape would look suspiciously like a veil or mask.

How about a nose cozy for those impossibly cold winters you Minnesotans get?

彥安 said...

You are flattering me..................................................

Madame DeFarge said...

I recall the person opposite me smoking at work - seems almost incredible now. I loathe the smell of fish, but it would be preferable to the smell of cigarette smoke. But then practically every thing is, including putrefied shark meat.

Kevin Musgrove said...

My first job was in the basement of a museum. Cardboard boxes, acid-free paper, controlled environment the better for the preservation of all sorts of goodies. The girl I worked with was cutting down on her smoking by weaning herself off Capstan Full Strength and onto Marlboroughs. She was a chain smoker and there was a strange transition period where she'd light a Capstan from the tab of a Marlborough.