October 9th, 2009

krazy koati

``Whee'', yelled the little fishies, ``Here's a lot of fun.''

I mean to be on good terms with Nature. I appreciate nearly four percent of the things Nature offers, mainly how it spruces up the scenery alongside Interstates. Without Nature we wouldn't enjoy that sense of imminent catastrophe accompanying never knowing when a squirrel or marching band or deer will leap in front of you. And there's other benefits like, I don't know, those antibiotics they keep growing in undiscovered plants on other continents. My point is I want to be peaceful with all this Nature going on, outside, away from me.

So that's what bothers me in learning that fish make noise. And not incidental noise like splashing or producing the familiar strains of aquarium deep-sea diver figurines wailing in terror at being nibbled by goldfish. You can't justly fault fish for noises from going about their fishly duties, and I won't. It's when they start vocalizing, and I'm talking about sounds loud and weird enough to be heard by homeowners not actually in the water that there's a problem. For example, you can't get anyone to take you seriously. Try it: ``I got no sleep because the fish were talking too loud.'' You won't get sympathy, unless by sympathy I mean personal space extending as much as forty paces away in all directions. I don't think I do. I think I mean the sympathy involving understanding nods and maybe some candy, and even I wouldn't give me that for those problems, and I ought to believe me if I know what's good for me, which I clearly don't, or I'd have given up this sentence as a bad job hours ago.

Where this gets personal is: what do fish have to talk about? Talking is tricky, and creatures won't just start making noise for the giddy fun of it. It's got to serve some use. Humans started speaking to efficiently ask toll booth attendants for a receipt when driving somewhere for work with hopes of being reimbursed for the trip. Pantomiming the desire is a dignity-draining process needing up to five minutes of effort outside the vehicle, depending on how new the attendant is, so efficient traffic flows required humans speak. The ability to speak in general and to chew just loud enough to distract diners at other tables were side benefits society owes to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. But such motivations can't apply to fish, as saltwater fish have few toll roads and freshwater fish had E-ZPass transponders since 1998, which may be broken open and the inner circuitry eaten by the application of a lobster fork. Don't tell the lobster.

If fish are talking, they must be talking about something, and I just bet you it's me. I don't mean that the self-centered way. It doesn't make sense to find out that all this time fish I didn't know about were talking unless the fish were keeping me from finding out. If they don't want me to know they're talking it follows they're talking about me and either don't want to hurt my feelings or don't want me hearing them. If they didn't want to hurt my feelings, a simple remark like, ``By the way, the denizens of the oceans are not talking about you'' would avoid hurt feelings unless it was delivered in the middle of the night or at a moment when I was feeling ignored. Since they didn't, they must not want me to hear what they're talking about, so it must be me, and the card in your hand is the four of clubs; am I right?

So there it is. I've been peaceful and let Nature be, and what do I get but fish talking about me? And whatever they're saying can't be good as the previous paragraph makes nearly logical. I don't even live near the water; fish shouldn't find me interesting. I might try whipping up gossip more interesting than I am, for fish to overhear, but what am I going to talk about to interest a fish? And I can't be less interesting to fish by thinking of things that fish find more interesting. I'm doomed, but at least it's an interesting, wet doom.

Trivia: Between 1868 and 1886 at least 150 bills and resolutions to regulate the railroads were introduced to the United States Congress. All were defeated. Source: The Wreck Of The Penn Central: The Real Story Behind The Largest Bankruptcy In American History, Joseph R Daughen, Peter Binzen.

Currently Reading: Embracing Defeat: Japan In The Wake Of World War II, John W Dower.