13
Aug
06

Flounder

Walking along the shoreline toward the parking lot at the beach yesterday, we saw a little kid and his dad fishing. They were standing on the beach like anyone else, but they had rods, hooks, and fishing line. It seemed unusual and dangerous to be fishing where other people were swimming, but what do I know?

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Flounders are weird-looking. They swim sideways, and they have evolved to have both eyes on the top side of their bodies. I wonder if it’s always the same side. And who decided: right or left? Mother nature is a slow-poke, though: Their mouths are still sideways.
[www.northfloridafishing.com]

As we passed by, the dad was stooping down to pick something up from the sand. It looked like a large, broad, flat, brown leaf. Some kind of fish, I figured. Sure was ugly. He carried it carefully with two hands and walked toward the water. The kid, maybe 6 years old, maybe 7, looked up at us and exclaimed, “We caught a flounder!”

Then, turning to the people walking just behind us, he added, “How unusual!”

It was this second part that caught my attention, his high-pitched voice, his stress on the second syllable: “How un-yoo-sual!” I started laughing to myself at his precociousness as I walked away.

He was beside himself with surprise, joy, pride. I heard him repeating it a few more times, probably to anyone who looked at him. A flounder! How unusual!

When I was a kid, catching any living creature was a thrill, from the smallest tadpole to the largest pike. I loved fishing as a kid — everything but breaking the worms apart with my fingers. (I usually used a knife. A clean cut seemed more humane. Certainly less messy for me.)

His dad must have said it earlier. Looking at the fish on the line, the kid asking what it was, he must have said something like. “Huh. A flounder. How unsual.” And that kid, so desperate to grow up and emulate his dad, was sharing the news with us all.

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