I will build you a home out of packaging foam that will be there till after we die

A couple of wildly divergent thoughts are pulling at me today, so I will begin with a story unrelated to either of them. To add to the confusion, this is a story about flying fish, which are not the same thing as swordfish, though my mind keeps making that erroneous connection.

My dad, in his itinerant youth, sailed around (some bits of) the world in a small vessel with a couple of friends and a cat named Skipper. This cat was so famous in my childhood that I still sometimes get her* mixed up with my own actual first cat, Nip (see how creative we all were with names? Actually, Nip’s brother was named Buster, which I still think is a pretty great name, but Buster died tragically after we’d owned him for only 2 weeks, so he looms less large). Skipper was rescued from swimming desperate laps in a harbor, forcing my dad & his human companions to weather a very uncomfortable storm because they couldn’t dock in the UK without giving Skipper up for animal quarantine.

After this, humans & cat were strongly bonded, which is I think one reason I wanted so badly to have Skipper for my very own. She famously slept at the bottom of my dad’s sleeping bag every night. The problem with this? In certain areas of the ocean they sailed through schools of flying fish, and these fish would occasionally jump up and land on the deck of the boat during the night. (Cue Bert & Ernie. Here fishie fishie fishie!) Skipper, having precious few small mammals on which to hone her hunting instincts, was very keen on reaching these fish first.

So, one night they were sailing through just such a patch of active marine life, and a flying fish landed on the deck with a large wet thwack. Sometimes the fish flopped around & managed to get themselves back in the water, but this one kept bopping around and the human sailors were about to get up and snag it when Skipper became alert to the situation. She proceeded to tear out of my dad’s sleeping bag, claws first. Which is to say: scratching the hell out of my poor dad all the way. When her human companions reached her, Skipper hissed and made herself very big and threatening, and proceeded to eat the whole fish herself. Ungracious little blighter.

Ok, wait, I was going to talk about two other topics as well. I’m not sure I have time (energy?) to do either one justice, so I will instead just briefly name these topics so you can see how absurdly unrelated they really are. More on each, perhaps, next week.

1. The impending marriage of two people beloved to my heart: Ryan (Dave’s brother) & Kim (hurray!).
2. Rwandan genocide and the root of human evil, by way of Rick Bass’s nonfiction novella (is there a better term for this?) in issue 40 of McSweeney’s.


*EDIT: Apparently Skipper is not so famous that I didn’t forget his gender. Quelle horreur!