Thursday, February 3, 2011

Twisted Fish

I was fileting rockfish today at work, and came across one specimen whose body bulged out unnaturally behind the gills and then narrowed into a comically skinny tail, giving the fish cartoonish proportions. I figured immediately that the poor guy had had some kind of spinal problem, but its exterior appearance didn't fully depict how twisted the backbone would turn out to be, twisting and contorting in all directions. My first reaction was to anthropomorphize the thing, telling Tameka that other fish had probably made fun of this guy in the high school locker room because of his scoliosis. Then I got to thinking about how the nature of the spinal problem. Whether the defect was genetic or due to some trauma (I can't escape the image of a young little fish slamming into a wall at full speed and collapsing into a snake-like S shape forever), the problem must have arisen early in the fish's life, because its tissue growth was so bizarrely warped. Maybe the little guy's growth was slowed because of his spinal problem, which would mean that he had to survive in his farm much longer than anyone else in his weight class (which is how fish are sold in the business). Or maybe that was ridiculous. Who knows. In any case, thinking about that fish's life reminded me about how little I think about the many animals I butcher every day. It seems that it takes an exceptional animal, which is to say one with some sort of defect, to make me think a little about the lives these creatures lived.

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