Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Man with the Fish on His Foot




The last vestiges of the red tide had just about disappeared by the time we arrived at Boca Grande for our annual week at the beach. And while the breeze carried a tinge of acrid, fishy aroma, the shoreline was no longer the carpet of carcasses it had been just a couple of weeks earlier.

So I set out on an early morning walk just like I always do when I’m at the beach—barefoot. After all, to imprison feet in shoes while going on a beach walk is, to use a comparison oft applied to another, even-more-gratifying sensual experience, like wearing a raincoat in the shower. There’s something about that whole sand-between-the-toes thing that is essential to beachgoing.

I’d made it about a half mile when, flush with the vigor of an aging body finally beginning to warm up and deceived into thinking I was actually in shape, I thought: What the heck, why not jog for a while? I broke into a trot. It felt pretty good. My stride was long, my pace not bad. I figured I might have a future starring in those TV commercials where a middle-aged guy runs down a beach with a couple of golden retrievers bounding on either side, then arrives on the porch of his beach house as his wife pours him a big glass of lemonade and the voiceover talks about a prescription medicine that would put some bounce in his step and some lead in his pencil.

The next thing I knew there was a dagger in my right foot and I was tumbling onto the sand. I sat up. I reached for my foot. And there, stuck to it, was a catfish.

For the record, it was a Gafftopsail catfish, bagre marinus, most notable for its long curving dorsal fin, a dorsal fin with a barb like a fishhook, a dorsal fin now impaled just south of my big toe. The fish itself was a relatively recent arrival on shore and had washed up under some seaweed. But its freshness was of little solace.

The pain was fierce. I hollered. I cussed. I grabbed the fish and gave it a yank. It didn’t budge. It hurt even worse. I cussed some more. I yanked on the fish again. Nothing. Except excruciating, ungodly pain.

So I did the only thing I could do. I stood up and started gimping my way back to our condo, the catfish flapping against my sole. I felt like that guy in Carl Hiaasen’s Double Whammy, the one who is forced to walk around with a dead pit bull clamped onto his arm. These things happen in Florida.

And I am here to tell you that, should you ever feel lonely and want someone to talk to, then just attach a catfish to your foot. Or any other available body part. It is a real conversation starter. First, people’s mouths drop open. Then they start to say something, but, you know, what do you say to a man with a fish on his foot? Still, they try.

Said one woman, “Is that a shark?”
Said another: “Has this ever happened to you before?”
And one guy, a real smart aleck, actually said: “Hey, did you know there was a fish on your foot?”

Back at the condo, my devoted wife donned gloves and tried to separate me from my piscatorial companion. She yanked, she pulled. I yelled, I cussed. Finally, we found a hacksaw, cut the fish from its fin, and proceeded to the emergency clinic. Incisions were involved. I’ll spare you the details.

“Next time,” the doctor said, “wear shoes.”

No way. It’s still not worth it.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

The burning question, of course, is did you filet, bread, deep fry and scarf that sonofacatfishmama?

Bud

Bob Morris said...

It became mulch.

scott said...

Bob:

OUCH!

Both hilarious and cringe-inducing.

BTW, just finished 'A Deadly Silver Sea'--(I know, I know, I'm way behind)--Excellent read!! I really enjoyed it. Zack's becoming one of my favorite characters...right up there with Travis McGee, Doc Ford, Thorn, and Serge.

Take care.

Scott

Anonymous said...

I will stick to barefoot on the beach and just brave the fish. Sounds like it was painful, but in true Bob form you managed to make it into funny reading!

Hannah Holmes said...

O my grossy, grossy, grossy god.

Bob Morris said...

Life in Florida, baby.

Julie Compton said...

My favorite line: These things happen in Florida.

Yes, they do. They absolutely do.

I winced for you, Bob.

Msmstry said...

Gadzooks! I thought things like that happened only to those of us in the Weston persuasion. At least you got a good story out of it!

I read further and enjoyed the mango story too. My husband eats them like popcorn—and those are the ones shipped in from who knows where. We find those tongue-like seeds all over the garden, the driveway, and, occasionally, in a mug where he's finished his coffee.

See you in Indy.

Molly

Bob Morris said...

Again, full disclosure: This absolutely true event took place some time ago. But I had to let the "trauma" wear off before I could write about it....

Jeff said...

Gosh, Bob - I hope it wasn't your writing foot!??!?!

Bob Morris said...

Left-handed, right-footed. It's all good...

Julia Buckley said...

Bob, you really have to stop trying to kill yourself by impaling your various limbs. :)

Deja said...

Bob! the most unusual things
happen to you, or you have
a good imagination ( I think, both).

take care, Deja

Carollynn Hammersmith said...

See, this is why I miss Florida - truth is stranger than fiction, and you.

Susie V from WV said...

NOW you know why the guy runs with the retrievers - to sniff out the dangers that lie in wait...

Wendy Breeden said...

Well Bob, at least you got to use a bit of your marine biology knowledge in the telling. Ouch!

Bob Morris said...

Little bit of knowledge = Dangerous thing

Jackie Minniti said...

Loved the story - it made my toes curl! You should have seen me limping away from the computer.

ron582 said...

Ron said:

Certainly glad when you fell, that
you didn't impale anything else.
Also, "Silver Sea" excellent read.
Am looking forward to the next
Zack and Co. story.

Bob Morris said...

Foot was, by far, the longer target...

Cinnamac said...

Bob,
As I read this tale I wasn't sure if it really happened to you or to Zack Chasteen. It sounded almost like it could be the opening to your next book. By the way, I saved 'A Deadly Silver Sea' to read on my cruise last week. It was indeed a great adventure and was enhanced for me by the fact that my wife & I were on a four day Bahamas cruise. You shared with me at the book signing that your working title was "Ship Happens". After reading the book I think that "Oh Ship!" would have also made a good title. How long do we have to wait for the adventure of Zack Chasteen?

Bob Morris said...

Funny how my life often intersects with Mr. Chasteen's.

Just finishing the next book, BAJA FLORIDA. Meaning, it should be out in early 2010. My favorite one yet...

Kathleen said...

I so enjoyed meeting you and your wife in Tampa and I can really just see this happening to you as I read what happened. How blessed to be given he ability to tell your stories of true life even, with such fun. I felt your pain. Hopefully all is better now. Ahhh Charlotte Harbor, having grown up in Port Charlotte, My sister-in-laws Dad, good 'ole Buck had a Mango tree and always brought some over to my parents. We miss him dearly, will have to see if my Sister-in-law can snag some from her Mom Mrs. B, have to find out the variety too. Maybe grow one in Tampa. Thanks for continuing to entertain us, though on this one I am sure you wished you didn't have a story ! Keep walking barefoot.
KB-Tampa

Realcsiman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Realcsiman said...

Great story, Bob! I am sorry to hear this. Yet I have this question that simply refuses to go away. Whilst running on the beautiful beach, and breathing the salt air, weren't you looking ahead of you? I mean....if it were me...I surely wouldn't have run right smack onto a nasty pile of stenchy gooshy seaweed! I mean...think of that poor poor catfish for a second...He was probably thinking to himself (while also cussing) "man...all I wanted was to soak in some of this sunshine before I get washed back to sea....now I have this lanky, cussing human on my back!!!

W T Hinman said...

Bob - I know now that it was you that I heard hollerin that beautiful island morning - I had originally thought the shout of pain to be a tourist who just looked at his dinner and bar tab from the night before as he arose from an unfamiliar bedroom and several new friends. Had I know then that it was Bob the famous writing man I woulda made sure the good doc at the clinic worked his mojo on you and greeted you with some fine Havava Club Ron interior ointment cure all but if it doesn't cure all you really don't seem to care or remember. Matter o fackt I'n in the middle of fixin conche fritters and HC adult beverages - how do you say "MOOHEETOOOO" If you ever Plan to do something like this again on the island let me know and I have the potion all reddy...........Clyde can hold you down and I do the pourin...........n I will bring my pet nurses - their called the oreos..........very attentive to every detail
seens I can't post a photo uv em on this thing yet. how u do dat>?

Bill Hinman

Bob Morris said...

Bill -- this particular incident happened some time ago and since antibiotics were scarce on-island I was forced to take more traditional medication (rum). We'll be back down that way for a few days in November. Hope to cross paths with y'all then. And the way the blog is set up -- none of my doing -- I'm the only one who can post images. Else who knows what would wind up here...

Bahamas Cruise said...

Interesting story. I like fishing. My family after few months will have a vacation, on my opinion the best way to spend it is fishing. But my wife will take all of us to Bahamas cruise thorough ECT. How can I reject her.

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Term Papers said...

This conversation is very interesting and enjoyable that:

Said one woman, “Is that a shark?”
Said another: “Has this ever happened to you before?”
And one guy, a real smart aleck, actually said: “Hey, did you know there was a fish on your foot?”


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