Once a fish found itself out of water. The experience was a bit of a shock, to say the least. Finding one’s way in a world without gills and among creatures without scales presented a definite challenge. Being a blowfish, as this one happened to be, did provide certain defenses, however. The fish could always swell up out of all proportion and regain some measure of safety by this suggestion of being the most important thing beached that day. “Watch out!” its intimidating look was intended to proclaim. Once confident it was puffed up enough, the blowfish felt ready to take greater stock of its surroundings. It identified those areas of particular foreignness and resolved to avoid them entirely. You could never tell what dangers lurked there. It could be foolhardy venturing to find out. And besides, what were you likely to find, even if you didn’t run afoul of some alien peril? Anything that wasn’t simply strange in whatever you came upon was likely to be outlandish, and what wasn’t outlandish was more than likely to be downright incomprehensible. To say nothing of having the potential to make you uncertain about everything you’d taken for granted all your life. Better to stick to the beach, well away from any seductive dangers you couldn’t comfortably blow off at will and might trail back into the water when a chance to return to familiar currents ultimately presented itself. Constantly weighing the pros and cons of any contact with the daunting mysteries beyond the limits of the beach, the blowfish grew to consider itself something of an authority in recognizing the safest places to stay, the safest food to eat, the safest little diversions to engage in, and the safest way to get back near the water when you’d had enough of all that. It even considered offering the benefit of its expanding expertise to the travel editors of leading newspapers and magazines. So long as they were looking for a few inflated descriptions of safe places to stay and safe food to eat and safe diversions to engage in and a way back from it all that left one with a slight flutter of the exotic but nothing more risky, the blowfish was their ticket. Who knew, it might even be asked to narrate travelogues to out-of-the-way destinations and bring armchair experiences of “the weird and wonderful” right into viewers’ living rooms, just like the travel channel. Being a fish out of water wasn’t half bad, actually, assuming you could always count on the security of common air whenever confronted with the unknown.
Copyright © 2003-2004 by Geoffrey Grosshans