I seem to end up looking like a doofus in public more often than most people. I prefer to think it’s sheer coincidence, and nothing to do with me personally. (Denial: Not just a river in Egypt.) Last month it was my disintegrating shoes. This week I entertained the crowd by juggling a dead fish at the pumps of a PetroCanada gas station.
It could only happen to me:
We had driven down to Victoria, and on the way back we stopped for gas. As I was fuelling up, Hubby’s uncle drove in beside me. That was an unlikely coincidence, since neither of us lives close to that PetroCanada station. Also coincidentally, he was returning from a fishing trip.
“Hey, I’ve got a fish for you,” said he. “Do you want it now?”
Ordinarily I would have declined, since I have no way of carrying a gutted and beheaded fish home in my car without causing grievous harm to upholstery and equanimity. But (another coincidence) I had taken a load of vegetables down to
inflict on share with our friends, so I had a large empty cooler with ice packs. I also happened to have a plastic bag, so I could put the fish in the bag and tuck it tidily into the cooler. Easy-peasy, right?
Not even close.
Hubby’s uncle was on his way to the ferry and I didn’t want to delay him, so I hustled his catch-bag over to where Hubby had helpfully opened our cooler. I grabbed my plastic bag with one hand. I grabbed the salmon with the other.
You’d think that very little could go wrong in the few inches between fish and bag; but you’d be oh-so-sadly mistaken. Freshly dead salmon are slippery. I had grabbed it just above the tail, and (being fish-shaped and all) it tapered considerably at that point.
That fish shot out of my grip like it was jet-propelled.
I made a panicked grab for it, which accomplished nothing except to add a tumble to its trajectory. Fish-slime flew in all directions, splattering my shirt, face, and sunglasses. The fish did a belly-flop into our cooler, where it spitefully rubbed its dead self all over the ice packs and the inside of the cooler.
And there I stood in the middle of the PetroCanada station: be-slimed and befuddled, with the empty plastic bag dangling impotently from my hand.
Then came a short ridiculous scene in which I juggled the frictionless fish a couple more times before finally cramming it into the bag. (Don’t ask me why putting the fish in the bag still seemed important, since the cooler and ice packs were already thoroughly slimed. By then I wasn’t thinking straight due to a severe case of the giggles.)
I scuttled into the station to wash my hands and clean my sunglasses, then hurried back to the car and drove away without looking around to see how many people had witnessed the debacle. I didn’t hear anybody laughing; but I wasn’t listening too closely, either.
I did manage to get the salmon filleted and into our freezer without further mishap, and soon we’ll eat the evidence.
But I might not go back to that gas station for a while…
Book 15 update: I’m back in action after last week’s hiatus, and looking forward to a good writing week!