This week, I caught my first fish. An odd topic for an editorial it seems but, bear with me.
There's this perpetual, somewhat unwarranted, very embellished narrative that writes itself along in my head as I go about my days—this narrative, in which I am obviously the gallant hero. Sometimes, my narrative urges me to do strange, plot-driving things. And so, on a bright Friday afternoon in my new home state of Florida, my fantastical, story-steeped mind decided that I was going to fish without having the vaguest clue how to do so.
Furthermore, it decided that I was going to fish right there and then, by myself. Who was I to protest? I immediately grabbed an old, cantankerous fishing rod that I'd found in my parents' shed—they live on a quiet canal, right at the very end—and casted the line off the dock into the still, shallow water. I sat there, contented with this act alone. As an indoorsy, lifelong New Yorker, I congratulated myself on just how archetypically Twain-esque this moment was to be. Then, as I took pictures of my bare feet with the rod nestled in between, the line tugged and, well, what was an anxious, serial-space-cadet to do other than tug right back? This, done not with the intent to catch the fish, but with the intent to get the fish off and as far away from me as possible. It didn't work. I ended up with an unusually large, purple and silver pinfish—a suddenly now very out-of-the-water pinfish—at the end of my line, staring at me as I screamed into the void of Ockham's razor, likely wondering why he was so unlucky as to have been caught by me. Did I mention that I'm absolutely terrified of wild fish? Yes, that's correct. Specifically wild fish. Only wild fish. Meaning, fish that aren't physically in an aquarium. Meaning, if they are in an aquarium, it's perfectly fine with me. Decidedly, this was not perfectly fine with me. Not in the least.
To make a long story short, the fish is OK. After a lengthy panic, during which I took care to put him into a bucket filled with water and call my dad (who laughed, too generously perhaps), Mr. Fish was returned home to tell all of his brackish comrades how he'd encountered a horror editor who is expressly afraid of fish. And honestly, hosts of other things too. Like riding a bike, which I don't know how to do. Or heights. Or ants, sometimes. Or, as Justin says besides me at this very moment, "Anything that gets too close to you without you agreeing to it." I'm glad we're getting to know each other better. This vulnerability thing is kind of fun.
The takeaway: The horrors of life are abound. Sometimes, they're intruders in the night. Sometimes, they're the existential dreads that we can't shake from our minds and hearts. Sometimes, they're creepy, desolate houses that make us feel unexpectedly at home. And sometimes—most dreadfully of all—they're large, unanticipated pinfish. Face your fears, yeah? Live boldly, just like me.
Signed, your gallant Hero,
Artwork by Novel Noctule team.