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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Flying Fish, Part II

(By the way, I'm not sure what's wrong with my blog at the moment. I'm assuming it looks as peculiar to you as it does to me. Sigh.)

So, we get to Matlacha, and the fish-flinging has already begun. The kids competition was underway, which was pretty funny. A lot of really little kids picking up dead fish and trying to chuck them... then wiping their hands on the emcee's pants.

Once the adult competition began, I kept trying to convince Cory to give it a whirl. After all, it's just five bucks a pop. It goes to a good cause. And I get to laugh at him.

He won't do it. At first, it's because he says he doesn't know the right technique. We got a good kick out of watching this guy and his friend debate whether to throw the mullet overhand or underhand (photo courtesy of the News-Press). One guy even threw his discus-style.

Later, when push came to shove, Cory admitted that he doesn't want to get embarrassed. It's not the fish-flinging that he's worried about. It's that he's a big dude-- and he feels that people would have expectations when they saw a 6'5" guy walk up there. If he wasn't good at mullet-tossing, the crowd would be dissappointed-- and he'd be embarrassed.

So, we settle for drinking beer and watching instead. It was a hot, sunny day, and we'd brought some folding lawn chairs with us. We found a spot under a tent (one of those tall tents like they have at art fairs-- you know-- with the pointy roof and no sides), ended up sitting next to some people from Clarkston and Troy, Michigan (very close to where I grew up), and watched the fish-flinging commence.

By the way, the Matlacha Mariners aren't wasteful. I guess a mullet isn't a one-toss fish. The same several fish would get tossed over and over again, so on occasion, a fish would hit the ground and spatter from one too many uses. Sometimes, you could actually see fish guts spray while the mullet was in midair. Gross, huh? Once a fish gets "retired" from circulation, the Mariners give it to crabbers, who use it as bait in their traps.

Gutty fish made for good entertainment. One of the most amusing parts of the mullet toss was watching people dodge those flying fish. See, not everyone there had the ability to throw fish with accuracy, and a lot of out-of-bounds tosses went into the crowd. We sat and laughed, relatively secure in the knowledge that we were under a tent, with more tents in front of and behind ours. A fish could hit the roof of the tent, but the odds of one sliding into the gap between the tents, hitting the ground, and bouncing five feet into one of our laps was pretty slim.

But lets face it-- I'm the type of girl that likes to defy the odds.

So, we'd been there for a couple hours-- enjoyed a few beers, had a few laughs, and were trying to decide when to leave. We agreed to stay until the next "intermission" and then go off to our next adventure. Shortly after we make the decision, I see a fish flying towards us, and even say, "Wow. That one's coming straight at us." But the loft of the throw goes over the tent, and out of our view. We hear a plop. And then the fish slips between the tent roofs, hits the ground, and bounces 4 1/2 feet in my direction until it slaps against my shin.


Cory, not paying attention, looks down, sees a gutty dead fish at my feet, and thinks I dodged a bullet. I, on the other hand, know better. I can feel cold fish blood trickling down my leg. I looked down, and my shin was red and streaked with silver scales. The spatter got on my pants and even on my shirt.

A very nice man brought me some napkins to wipe off the fish guts, and I did the rest I could, but I stunk for the rest of the day. I had some "moist towelettes" in my purse courtesy of a chicken-wing dinner a few nights earlier, and that helped,too, but even after we got home and I took a shower, I could still smell it.

So I guess it's a good thing that Cory didn't want to be embarrassed. I took care of that for him.

That said, I'll go back next year. And knowing my luck, I'll probably get hit by a stray fish again.

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