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Talking Fish

Posted Sunday, November 23, 2008, at 9:35 PM

In February of 2003, the BBC News reported that a fish heading for slaughter in a New York City market shouted warnings about the end of the world.

I've been shouting that for decades but no one will listen to me.

Lois Nivelo, a butcher in New Square Fish Market, was about to kill a carp to be made into gefilte fish when it began shouting. Nivelo was so shocked he fell into a stack of packing crates, then ran to the front counter, screaming, "The devil is here."

Co-worker Zalmen Rosen, reacted in disbelief, then tried to calm Nivelo down.

Rosen, a Hasidic Jew, soon went to the back of the shop and heard the fish identify itself as the soul of a local Hasidic man who had died the previous year. Then the fish instructed Rosen to pray and study the Torah.

Needless to say, Rosen was quite unnerved. He went into a state of panic whereby he attempted to kill the fish, injuring himself in the process and ending up in a hospital.

During Rosen's absence, the fish was killed and sold by Nivelo, a Christian who apparently didn't speak the same language as Rosen or the carp.

Since some Hasidic Jews believe that righteous people can be reincarnated as fish, the incident caused quite a stir in the local Jewish community. Many of them were certain that God was troubled by the situation in the Middle East.

Naturally, this story soon became a major topic in the fish trade, as well as for New York City comedians. One fish company even considered changing its slogan to "our fish speak for themselves."

Rosen was not amused. "Enough already about the fish," was his standard comment to the press that began contacting him daily.

Although this may seem unusual to many people, I've caught many fish in my time and some have actually spoken to me too. While none have mentioned the end of the world, they were still worth noting.

Crappie in Medicine Lake, Minn. -- "We are born naked, wet and hungry. Then things get worse."

Smallmouth bass in Lake Omaha, Ark. -- "The bass that laughs last, thinks slowest."

Largemouth bass in Table Rock Lake, Mo. -- "Light travels faster than sound. That's why bass fishermen appear brighter until you hear them speak."

Muskie in Sunset Lake, Wis. -- "Suppose you were a human being and suppose you were an idiot -- oh, but I repeat myself."

Sailfish in Mexico -- "When you're swimming in the ocean and are bitten by an eel, that's a moray."

Dogfish in Lake Allatoona, Geo. -- "How many catfish does it take to change a light bulb -- none, they just swim in the dark and complain."

Catfish in Lake Allatoona, Geo. -- "Why is it so hard for a female dogfish to find a male that is sensitive and caring -- because they already have boyfriends."

Perch in Lake Okeechobee, Fla. -- "Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a female I don't like and give her the deep end."

Rainbow trout in Cut Bank, Mont. -- "I believe in the 50-50-90 rule -- even if there's a 50 percent chance a fly fisherman will hook you, there's a 90 percent chance he'll throw you back."

Brown Trout in Yellowstone Park, Wyo. -- "Things that come to those who wait may be things left over by those who got there first."

Walleye in Stout Lake, Ontario -- "A day without sunshine is like night."

Red Snapper in Florida Keys -- "A Priest, a Rabbi and a Barracuda go into a bar. The bartender asks, 'Is this a joke?'"

Northern pike in Crooked Lake, Mich. -- "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll sit in a boat drinking beer all day."

I once dated a woman who was part Norwegian and part dingbat. A tadpole told me to dump her but I ignored the advice. The tadpole went on to become a frog, the dingbat went on to become my ex-wife, and I went on to become a loner who talks to tadpoles.

Due to a lack of talking fish, the end of the world will be postponed for six more months.


Quote for the Day -- "If you give a person a fish, they'll fish for a day. But if you train a person to fish, they'll fish for a lifetime." Dan Quayle (former U.S. Vice President)




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Boldly Going Nowhere
Bret Burquest
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Bret Burquest is a former award-winning columnist for The News (2001-2007) and author of four novels. He has lived in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Memphis and the middle of the Arizona desert. After a life of blood, sweat and tears in big cities, he has finally found peace in northern Arkansas where he grows tomatoes, watches sunsets and occasionally shares the Secrets of the Universe (and beyond) with the rest of the world.
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