Something's Fishy about the News

A talking carp has predicted that the end of the world is near. I know this is hard to believe -- after all, if you're like me you've always assumed striped bass were the Miss Cleos of the fish world -- but it must be true, it was reported in the New York Times.

It seems two fish cutters who work in the New Square Fish Market (motto: "Shop here just for the halibut") were about to knock a carp on the head so they could win a slot on America's Dumbest Piscine Three Stooges Imitations -- I mean, slaughter and filet the sucker -- when it spoke to them in Hebrew. After asking where it could get the best pastrami in the city it said they should "account for themselves because the end is near." Or maybe it said its end was near, which wouldn't have been surprising considering both of the men had rubber mallets in their hand and had every intention of using them. Since only one of the men understood Hebrew, and the fish spoke with a heavy carpish accent, it's possible it said almost anything.

The fish, claiming to be the soul of a local man who died last year, told the one, who was a Hasidic Jew, to pray and study the Torah. It didn't say anything in Spanish to his Ecuadorian partner, which may account for why he let the fish jump back into the box with the more taciturn carps. Well, that plus the fact that he doesn't know jack about pastrami and the fish made three bad puns -- one about being crabby, another about the proper way to tuna boat, and one about women using certain mussels, which can't be told in mixed company. You can accuse fish of a lot of things, but lacking a sense of humor isn't one of them.

It's really not that farfetched to think that the next Nostradamus might be a fish. What is hard to fathom is that the New York Times beat out the Weekly World News for the story. Sure the tabloid has recently run stories about a boy who is part bat, a woman who claims she was Big Foot's love slave, and a woman in Brazil who had eight holes surgically cut in her neck so she can play it like a flute just by breathing, but they still should be ashamed of themselves. After all, they're the ones who print the annual psychic predictions every January, couldn't one of them have foreseen this scaly seer?

It's not as if they don't like fish stories. An eight-year-old boy in South Carolina recently made the cover for reeling in a fish with a human face. Not bad, but honestly, big deal. I mean, it didn't speak English, better yet Hebrew, though the boy's grandfather did say it "moved its lips like it was asking me to throw it back." Oh come on, that's nothing but pure conjecture. It could just as well have been trying to ask if they'd seen its Hasidic cousin, what kind of fish a gefilte is, or where it could find the best pastrami in Hartsville. Right, like you can get good pastrami outside New York City.

It certainly has been raining fish stories lately, both figuratively and literally. Just last December the latter happened in a small village in Greece. That's right. The residents of Korona, expecting a run of the mill thunderstorm, were startled to discover fish falling from the sky. They were even more surprised to find that not one of them had a human face, spoke Hebrew, or predicted that week's winning numbers for the Big Fat Greek Lottery. Now that had to be a major disappointment. According to a television station, the fish were scooped out of Lake Doirani by a mini-tornado. Yeah, right. And there will be an Elton John, Jr. any day now.

Other than the possible imminent end of the world, there's another reason the carp may have spoken. Jealousy. A talking fish appeared on the season finale of The Sopranos last year and who could blame the carp for wanting a shot at the limelight? After all, he couldn't survive on land long enough to win Survivor, certainly wouldn't eat the fish eyes which were on a pizza during a recent Fear Factor, and face it, what are the chances of winning American Idol if the only song you know is Hava Negila?

Whether the fish really spoke or the two men were looking for their 15 minutes of fame without having to marry a millionaire, take anyone hostage, or pat their heads while rubbing their stomachs for 24 straight hours so they can get in the Guinness Book of World Records, is still up for grabs. But just in case, we shouldn't completely dismiss the fish's words. After all, if it turns out the end actually is near we need to stop floundering around and do some quick sole searching, otherwise the carp cod clam up. Oh, that's right, it did. After uttering its declarations, the fish flopped off its perch and fell back into the carp box, later to be butchered and sold. Now we'll never know where the best pastrami is in New York.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: His compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It's Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email:


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