Biff America: Past sins of a fish story
Stoney called me on Super Bowl Sunday to remind me of my past sins.
“Do you know when you die and go to heaven the angels do to you what you did to animals while you were on earth?”
“Is this conversation being recorded?” I asked.
Stoney assured me that he had no recording device in his car but still wanted to remind me of my part in a fish genocide that took place almost 30 years ago on Super Bowl Sunday – and that there would be angels waiting for me in heaven.
I pointed out to Stoney that, though I have never read that assertion in any theological writings, I have tried to make amends for my past sins – and hopefully the angles will take that into consideration.
Aging is a double-edged sword. While maturing and relaxing you, it also lends a moral perspective lacking in your youth. In other words, you look back at some of the stuff you did in your younger years and think: “What a jerk I was!”
The “Super-Sunday-Seafood-Survival of the Swiftest” was my idea to add some drama and gambling to Stoney’s yearly Super Bowl party.
This had to be in the late ’70s. Stoney and I worked at a local den of iniquity; he was the manager and I tended bar. His parties were the stuff the legends.
My friend loved reptiles and had a water turtle named Jaws that was about the size of a large muffin. Jaws seldom moved except to eat, but when it did it was deceptively fast.
The turtle would eat anything from raw meat to bananas and greens; if it got the chance, it also would sup on goldfish.
On that Super Bowl Sunday, Jaws enjoyed a buffet.
My idea was to get 10 friends to adopt a fish, put up some money and place the fish in with Jaws. The owner of the last fish swimming got all the cash.
Stoney and I traveled to the nearest pet store to buy 10 goldfish. The owner was this elderly woman who seemed to take an immediate dislike to us – (I’m guessing it was because of Stoney). When we told her we wanted to buy 10 goldfish, she appeared reluctant to part with them. After giving us the hairy-eyeball, she begrudgingly began scooping them out of a large aquarium. When I insisted we pick out the fish and that no two could look exactly alike, she nearly threw us out. That was until I explained we were donating the pets to a local grammar school. We told her our plan was to have one child adopt one fish, and thus it was important the fish be distinguishable from each other so the kids could love and cherish their particular fish.
The “Super-Sunday-Seafood-Survival of the Swiftest” worked like this: Stoney, I and eight of our friends put in $10 a piece – for which we got a distinctive-looking goldfish. The fish would be placed in the tank with Jaws upon kick-off of the big game.
As soon as the fish hit the water in Jaw’s tank they knew something wasn’t right. They clustered together and seemed nervous. Jaws ate three of them between the time the ball was kicked and the tackle was made on the return.
My fish survived this initial onslaught.
By the fourth quarter, there were three fish left, and Jaws looked bloated. Though we all stayed at Stoney’s house until well after midnight, Jaws was on a hunger strike.
We went home and to bed before a winner was crowned.
As luck would have it, my fish was the only one still swimming when we met back at Stoney’s place the next morning.
As a reward for my fish’s fleetness, I was $100 dollars. I used the money to take us all to breakfast.
Years later, I admitted to having snuck into Stoney’s house early in the morning ti flush the other two fish down the toilet – leaving only mine.
After all these years I’m still ashamed of my part in that aquatic atrocity. I’d like to think I’ve grown more mature and compassionate since those dark days. It has been so long I often forget all about it until my friend calls yearly to remind me. I’ve tired to do Karmic penance for that past crime and others, but I’m still worried what the angels might have in store for me when I get to heaven.
I’m not that great of a swimmer. …
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8 and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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