I remember the day well. It was a wedding I wasn’t all that interested in, with a bride who was my “adopted” grandma and a groom that seemed to be well beneath her and totally creepy, like a chain-smoking, skinny Lawrence Welk. The reception was in a classic seedy Minnesota supper club that I recall had low, red-infused light. And not that I was a connoisseur of fine establishments, heck we were a family meal deal at Dairy Queen kind of crowd, even I felt that the light was probably meant to hid lurking dangerous dining experience. But with an ounce of pride, having caught a walleye or two in my long twelve years of life, I ordered the local fish special and waited for it to strike.
Strike me it did. In my haste, or blame it on the low light, one of those bones made it past my molars and lodged in my throat. I choked, shed my pride and cried in fear I would never be the same again. Did the fish feel like this when the hook was in their mouth? It was awful and despite my pleadings that I needed a bone-ectomy, my parents just laughed and took their little fish bone drama queen home. I never forgave the groom, clearly he had stocked the kitchen with evil walleye filets. I suffered for days wondering if the food I ate would get caught on this massive piece of fish structure in my throat and suffocate me. Nightmare scenarios filled my head until one day it was just gone, but not forgotten. I started avoiding fish, but if forced to face the evil you had to plan extra dining time because I was going to inspect for bones, re-inspect for bones, and then pulverize it with my teeth. My parents laughed some more.
The other day I caught, cleaned, and cooked a couple of trout. No seedy establishments and plenty of natural light at my campsite for the delicious meal of local sweet corn and trout, which I’ve learned to filet with minimal bony invaders on my plate. I called Dad to tell him of my day and he laughed and exclaimed “aren’t you the fish bone fiasco, can’t eat fish girl?” Well I have grown up. Maybe it’s the fact I control my fish destiny now. They don’t come from a freezer and get cooked in a kitchen I can’t see, and they will never be turned into lutefisk. These are my fish, gratefully taken from a stream or lake I love. And cooked to perfection. Less drama. More pleasure.