Dead Carps, Cream Pies and Rubber Chickens

7 06 2009

[fiction]

fishHello, my name is Gary, and I’m a fish slapper.  I came out of the closet ten years ago, and I’ve never looked back.  Ever since I was a child, I knew that I was special.  At first, I thought something was wrong with me for wanting to slap myself in the face with a dead carp, but after hiding my nature for years, I finally realized that it’s just who I am.

In the early days, I used to be content with slapping myself  with a carp in the privacy of my own home, but I soon came to realize that the world should love me for who I am.  I must admit that I was a little scared the first time I ordered a raw unprepared carp in a fancy restaurant.  The waitress looked at me like I was a little nuts, but she did manage to serve me one.  For a moment I hesitated.  Then I took hold of it and gave myself a firm slap in the face.  By the third slap, the tables all around me had grown quiet, and everyone was staring at me like I had grown a second head.  Undaunted, I continued to slap myself in the face, until the manager came over and insisted that I leave.

Of course, such discrimination was to be expected in those days.  Narrow-minded individuals were common, believing that the food was either to be eaten or not eaten.  Unconventional uses for food, such as mine, were not accepted as normal.  I had to convince the world that fish slapping was a veritable alternative and that I deserved to be accepted for the fish slapper that I am.  Eventually, after getting thrown out of several restaurants, my story made small news.  Pretty soon, I was getting mail from other fish-slappers who had been hiding their true selves for years and just wanted to come out of the closet.  I decided that it was time for something to be done about it.  We formed a society of fish slappers, and we even gained enough momentum to hold a fish slappers pride parade.  With enough publicity, the society at large was being made aware of the plight of fish slappers everywhere.

The downside to the publicity is that certain small-minded individuals became ever more vocal against us.  They called us “odd,” to the point where the word, odd, came to specially mean people who slap themselves in the face with a dead carp.  I cringed when I heard a teenager call his peer, “odd,” comparing him disparagingly to one of us.  These days, after much activism, schools teach kids to be more sensitive to people who are different than themselves, but the early days were painful.  We tried, with great success, to change the terminology used to describe us.  We called ourselves “happy,” and the public generally accepted that term.  Now, if you call yourself happy, people think you mean that you like to smack yourself violently with a fish.  Ask any guy on the street, and he’ll swear that he’s feeling miserable.  They’re all afraid to call themselves happy, now.

Despite all of these victories, there was still one looming problem.  It was an area of intense and unforgivable discrimination that had been institutionalized from the very beginning.  Our manner of eating was rejected in restaurants and eating establishments everywhere.  Happy people were not permitted to practice their preferred use of food in the same way as fish-eaters.  What became clear to us is that we would have to fight for our civil rights in the same manner as Martin Luther King Jr.  The problem was that, while the African American population was discriminated against for what they were, we were discriminated against for what we did.  We had to prove that fish slapping was something that we were born with, like being born of a different race or being born with a disability.  We did, in fact, manage to publish a few scientific journals that pointed to a possible genetic connection with fish slapping.  These were much-derided by the intolerant members of society.

“Do you think I would actually choose to make myself open to ridicule for the whole world?!” I complained to my friend, Norm, one day.

He shook his head and replied, “No, I think you’re right.  I can’t imagine ever wanting to slap myself in the face with a fish.  You must really want to do it, or you’d never be willing to put yourself up to such ridicule.  What I don’t understand is why you’d insist on having fish slapping  be treated as equal to eating seafood.  It’s just not the same.”

“It is the same!” I insisted.  “No one’s preventing you from doing what you want with your fish.  Just because I like to do something other than chewing and swallowing the fish doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to be treated the same as everyone else.”

“No one’s treating you differently,” Norm replied, “If you want to eat a fish in a restaurant, then you can do that, just like everybody else.  It’s just not the same to consume a fish as it is to slap yourself with one.  Eating the fish serves a functional purpose.  We were made to eat.  Survival of the human race depends on it.  Sure, it feels good, but that’s not the point.”

“Hey, you do what feels good to you, and I’ll do what feels good to me,” I replied in anger.

“No one’s stopping you from doing what feels good to you,” Norm said, “but restaurants were made for eating.  Waiters and chefs work to feed people.  That’s what they’re there to do.”

Norm never understood my lifestyle.  Having failed through parades and media coverage to win the public over, we turned to the law.  We sued restaurants for discriminating against us.  We protested in front of the homes of public figures who advocated against us.  We harassed, bullied, pleaded and educated.  Eventually, we won a popular vote that mandated restaurants to provide us with our own eating area.  They could no longer deny us service.  This wasn’t enough, though.  We didn’t want to be marginalized, slapping ourselves in a separate room, while all of the other diners ate in peace.  We failed to pass legislation forcing restaurants to allow us to slap ourselves in the main eating area, so we sought to change the meaning of the words “eating,” and “dinner.”  Fish slapping needed to be considered a form of eating.  In a landmark case, a high court ruled that separate was inherently unequal, and restaurants needed to accommodate alternative dining lifestyles, such as ours.

Unfortunately, this turn of events was short-lived.  The populace passed a law that defined eating as being the chewing and swallowing of food.  Only that definition of eating was permitted in the main dining areas of restaurants  Even before that law came to vote, we were already at the works to bring that one to court.  The judges ruled in our favor and overturned the law.  We could once again slap ourselves as loudly as we wanted in the main dining area of restaurants.

Shortly after that, though, the people voted for a constitutional amendment redefining eating as the chewing and swallowing of food.  We were once again denied the main dining areas, meant for eating, because what we were doing was not considered an act of eating.  This outrageous amendment was, unfortunately, upheld in the high court.  We’re going to keep fighting this one, though.  We have teamed up with the pie-in-the-facers and the rubber chicken flagellants to form the Fish Slappers Cream Pie Smashers and Rubber Chicken Whippers Society (FSCPSRCWS).  We will not be stopped.  We will not be forced back into the closet.  We’re in your face, and we’re here to stay.

Look out world, ‘cause here we come.

[/fiction]

Just wait until those hate speech laws kick in.  Then we’ll never be able to address anything by name.

reflectivesig

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