Karma and the Street Catfish

Karma, man. What a bitch that chick is.

So here’s what happened: A friend of mine – Joanne* – has a duck, and this duck is becoming a man, so to speak. To help protect another animal in her household who is the current object of this duck’s affection, she says she’s going to find a girl duck.

For many reasons, I oppose this. Namely because it’s the equivalent of getting your teenage boy a prostitute, but also because ducks are against the law in Gulfport and at some point she’s going to get in trouble. She, of course, knows about the illegalities, and she’s a smart lady who understands the risk. However, she’s a soft touch. That’s how she ended up with damn duck in the first place. This morning, I tried to beat her into submission about this whole “duck sex worker” scenario.

“You’re going to be the crazy duck lady,” I said. “It started with a chicken. Now you have multiple chickens, a parrot, and a duck, and you want a second duck to help relieve the urges of the first. I can see how this is going to go down if Larry dies first. You’re going to become a collector. We’re going to have to have a damn intervention. That won’t work, so next thing you know, I’ll come home one day and see the NewsChannel 8 truck outside your house as county workers carry out the ducks. You can’t let this happen. You can’t be the crazy duck lady.”

It’s important to note here I referred to Joanne as “crazy” in the way her love of animals translates into an extreme behavior. Keep reading.

We had some rain today, by which I mean we had a deluge. In between rain storms, El Cap looked up from his computer and said, “there’s a fish in the street.” I was mildly alarmed until I remembered we lived in Gulfport and went to take a closer look.

On the Street Where You Live
The lessor-known Gulfport Street Catfish

Sure enough, our neighborhood was lousy with catfish. Apparently the flooded storm sewers had washed freshwater catfish from Tomlinson pond and into the streets. When the water went down, the fish had nowhere to go.

At first, I shooed them away, because it’s way easier to catch a catfish with a fishing pole than it is with my hands. They kept squirting out of my hand. Once I figured out that by grasping them firmly with my fingers in front of one fin but not the other I could keep a hold on them, I was able to start tossing them back in the flooded swale (which has a storm sewer drain.)

I freely admit I may just be prolonging the inevitable – I don’t know if the fish will make it to the drain when the water recedes – after all, fish are known for their tastiness, not their intelligence – but I couldn’t stand to see scores of fish suffocating on the street.

And that is how my neighbors and passers-by came to see me, standing in a sundress in the rain, grabbing fish out the street and tossing them back into a flooded storm ditch.

Like calls to like, I suppose. Crazy is as crazy does. Pick your platitude. I brought this on myself, I know.

Street Catfish
Cthulhu, is that you?

Bonus moment: About an hour after what El Cap calls “the Catfish Brigade”, the rain broke and he and I took the dogs for a walk, where we returned three more catfish to water. Best moment was when El Cap was trying to catch a catfish who had flip-walked into the middle of the street and a guy pedaled past us.

“What’s that?” Random Bicyclist asked me.

“Freshwater catfish,” I answered. (I don’t know why I felt the need to explain the “freshwater” part, but just chalk it up to “this day is surreal as shit” and leave it at that, shall we?)

“Oh,” he said, and nodded. “OK.”


*Names have been changed to protect the illegal ducks.