Oh carp, oh sole, oh sea bass, oh dam fish.
What can I tell you? I belch fishes.
I know it’s not very feminine, but I can’t help it.
First time it happened I was at a lecture about the history of matchsticks. After a combination of a belch and a sneeze, up came a red snapper. I was stunned. The fish was flapping in my lap and people were turning to me and frowning. It was all I could do to hug the fish tight and quiet the slapping.
In public I try to belch quietly, but I have to slip the minnows and goldfish from my mouth into a Ziplock bag in my pocket. Sometimes, but not often, people notice that my pocket is wiggling.
Yes, they rise up alive—alive, flapping around, and edible. I take all sorts of over-the-counter products to prevent gas, but they don’t work very well.
Yes, the fish are in proportion to the size of the belch. At home I belch up salmon and trout all the time. I frequently eat belched fish. There’s nothing wrong with them. They don’t taste bad when cooked, especially with beer batter, lemon, and tartar sauce.
My stomach is a fish hatchery. And I’m not even a Pisces.
One time I belched up a tuna—a small one—at the doctor’s office while being examined, shortly after the deep breathing/stethoscope stuff. Dr. Annette turned for a moment while I belched ,then turned back, frowned, and asked, “Where did that fish come from?”
“That fish?” I’d tossed it onto an extra chair.
“Yes. Did you bring it with you?”
“Next time you have a fish, leave it in your car.”
“Uh. Okay. But I took the bus.”
When she peered at it and touched it, it moved and she stepped back. “Is it alive?”
“How odd.” She looked at me suspiciously but continued my exam.
When I belched up a couple goldfish, I had no place to put them except beneath the paper sheet. I was naked. She found the fish of course and she gave me the fish eye. “This is just too much. Keep your fish to yourself.”
I was about to explain that I couldn’t help it when there was a knock at the door and the doctor left with her nurse.
I wasn’t seeing her for my fish disorder. I was seeing her for a sore throat.
While she was gone, I belched up a few minnows and hid them under my shirt in the second chair. I knew I shouldn’t have had a chiliburger for lunch.
The doctor came back and she was looking down my throat, making me say “AHHHH” when a salmon started to appear. As you can imagine, large fish make me gag as they are coming up.
She jumped back and watched the salmon fall onto my lap. “How did you do that? Did you swallow it before you came in here?”
“No. I just belch and up they come.” Clearly all the fish were alive, but the tuna was looking peaked.
I suppose this belongs in the miracle department, though I don’t belch loaves to go with the fishes. And I am certainly no saint.
The doctor looked devastated. “How do I write this up?” She rubbed her forehead as if she had a headache.
At the end of the examination, she didn’t give me a prescription. She told me to gargle warm salt water for my throat, and gave me advice about treating salmonella.
Then she went to the mirror by the door and examined her reflection, as if she were afraid part of her might be missing.
When I first went to tell my mom about my condition, she was sitting at the kitchen table snapping the ends off of green beans. “Hi Honey, what’s up?”
As soon as I sat down, a fish came up. I didn’t even try to hide it.
She leaned forward to look. “What’s that?”
“A catfish. Be careful of its whiskers.”
“It’s kind of small.”
“Mom, I belched up a fish.”
“I can see that. I was thinking I could cook it for dinner, but it’s so small.”
“Give me a beer,” I said.
Mom smiled. “You always were an unusual girl.”
Eventually I burped up enough for a good sized meal.
My mom thinks it’s great. She loves fish, says I should join the circus. But how long will this fish belching last? I hope not long enough to make a career of it. Besides, even though I am one, I don’t want to be thought of as a freak.
It’s not as if I eat shad roe or caviar.
I know it’s totally disgusting, but now I’ve developed a craving for earthworms.
A couple weeks ago I went on a date with an intelligent, sensitive, handsome man. James Russell Powell III.
At the restaurant he asked me if I like fish. “Yes,” I said. He recommended the ahi with pear salsa. “I’ve heard it’s very good. I haven’t tried it myself.”
It was very good.
After dinner we went to an old movie festival and saw Jaws. (I haven’t belched up any sharks yet.) In the theater’s darkness, it was easy to slip a few minnows to the floor. Later, on my doorstep, he took me in his arms and kissed me like he meant it. I meant it, too. Then a small bluegill flipped into my mouth.
“What?” he said stepping back.
“It’s just a fish. A little fish.”
“But from where?”
“Me.” I pointed to my throat.
He laughed and laughed, then tried to kiss me again and the same thing happened. He still laughed but then he started to sneeze. Turned out he’s allergic to fish.
I dreamed of having him next to me in bed, but all I’ve awakened to is a bunch of crappie on the pillow next to mine.