and the Catfish
Wanda is a dumb blond, to put it kindly. She is not
the sort of person I would normally choose as a friend, but we came to
know each other through a mutual acquaintance. She is actually a
good-hearted person, but intelligence is just not one of her
On the particular day under discussion, my friend
and I were going to visit his mother who was in the hospital in a
nearby town. Wanda was a perfectly capable
driver, but, being Wanda, was afraid to drive on the Interstate. She
asked to ride along with us since she knew my friendís mother too.
Naturally, it was impossible to refuse to let someone go along to
visit a sick friend, so we agreed to take her with us. Wanda was the
sort who talked incessantly and told rather amusing stories, more by
accident than by any deliberate intent.
We had previously decided that after the visit to
the hospital, we would stop and eat dinner at the nearby Catfish
House. Southerners are connoisseurs of catfish, and passing right by
one of the best fish restaurants in the area without stopping to eat
was just an impossibility.
Besides, what could go wrong, even with
Wanda along? After all, it was only a Catfish House, not an exclusive
eating establishment by any means.
Catfish Houses are noted for their food, not for
their fine dining atmosphere. Usually somewhat rustic in appearance, a
Catfish House is nevertheless the epitome of fine country eating.
Catfish Houses serve fried fish on heaping platters with all the
"fixinís" - hush puppies, French fries, white beans, and
cole slaw, preferably made with vinegar. This is washed down with
gallons of sweet ice tea. I donít know why this is the standard, it
just is. All Catfish Houses know the rules and serve the same thing.
Now to really enjoy catfish, it is necessary to
order "all you can eat," "All you can eat" means
all you can consume at the food establishment and does not include
doggy bags or taking home any leftovers, another established tradition
of the Catfish House.
Everything went well on our little outing as we ate
beans and hushpuppies and pigged out on catfish. Waiters continued to
bring out additional platters of fish as long as we could empty them.
Wanda enjoyed the catfish even more than we did and kept us amused
with true stories of her ex boyfriends and her less than perfect love
life. When we were ready to leave, there were some fish left on the
Wanda looked at the leftover fish with longing eyes
and said, "Iím going to take that leftover fish home."
We explained "The Rules" to Wanda, that
you are not supposed to take food out, and that itís against the
policy of the restaurant. "They wonít even bring you a box to
put it in," we said, sure that would change her mind.
"I know," said Wanda. "But Iím
going to take that fish home!"
In a last ditch effort to dissuade her, we explained
that re-warmed fish was probably not going to be very good anyhow. But
nothing would change her mind once it was made up. We were horrified
as Wanda proceeded to wrap the leftover catfish up in napkins and slip
it into her purse. We were sure we would be busted by the management
for stealing catfish.
Well, either the management didnít notice or
didnít care. We paid the bill and left without getting caught and
once outside were actually able to laugh about Wandaís catch of the
day. That would have been the conclusion of the great catfish caper,
except for one more item.
It seems that catfish pilfering has itís own
particular kind of self-inflicted justice. The next time I saw Wanda,
I asked her if she had eaten her leftover catfish.
said Wanda, "the catfish was great - but my purse smelled so
fishy that I had to throw it away."