Summer Soap episode 8: Fish, crabs and fried food on memory menu

Summer Soap is a daily fictional serial which runs over 12 parts. Called Moving Along, this was written by Nejla Gaylen, of the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. See previous episodes at
Summer Soap episode 8: Fish, crabs and fried food on memory menu

“There are a million places back home where you can get a goldfish, a betta, a family of tetras; some other life to keep you company on a rainy day”

Episode Eight – Goldfish, Hermit Crabs and Fried Chicken

“I’VE been trying to figure out where to go to buy a goldfish in Cork.

“There are a million places back home where you can get a goldfish, a betta, a family of tetras; some other life to keep you company on a rainy day. I even stopped a lady walking her dog and asked her.

“She said, ‘You’re looking for a dog?’ I told her I was looking for a fish and she said, ‘But I have a dog. I don’t have a fish.’

“I explained that I didn’t want a dog, but I thought maybe wherever she got her dog, maybe they also sold fish, since they’re both animals and all that. She stared at me for a moment and then walked away.

“I went to the Tesco Superstore in Wilton with an open mind and €15. I hadn’t noticed any live fish for sale on previous visits, but I hadn’t been looking for any.

“At the Walmart Supercenter back home, they’re kind of hidden along a back wall. It’s $10 for a new fish owner start-up kit that includes one goldfish, a little goldfish studio apartment and everything needed to keep it alive for a whole month.

“I walked up and down every aisle at Tesco, but the only fish I found that was of any interest to me was the lemon sole goujons. Can you believe that? It wasn’t as if I was looking for something like…hermit crabs.

“I could understand not finding any hermit crabs. I could appreciate not finding any hermit crabs. I’m still traumatized from the Christmas when you decided Hermit crabs for everyone! Yay!!!!! Not really, but that’s precisely what you showed up with at the family Christmas dinner.

“We each got two of them with cutesy painted shells, cutesy names, a cutesy little habitat called a crabitat, cutesy itty-bitty food. Truly, all the crab ‘stuff’ was really cute, but the crabs? They were butt ugly.

“Your rationale for getting them — no poop to scoop — was quite logically thought out and I had no issues throwing the crab food and some shrimp flakes at them once a day.

“Then I woke up one morning and the house smelled really bad. I’m fighting morning stupor and an assault on my olfactory sense which leads me to the crabitat and a naked hermit crab. A buck-naked hermit crab.

“And it’s not hiding under the substrate or in the sand like usual. It’s running back and forth across the top of the crabitat so everyone can get a really good look at its buck nakedness.

“And this thing is acting like it just drank three times its body weight in gin because it is completely out-of-control.

“So now I’m about to puke because the buck nakedness is even more butt ugliness than just the head and legs sticking out of the shell. And the buck nakedness makes me think of the alien thing that came out of Sigourney Weaver’s stomach and ran across the table, kind of like Hermie is running across the top of his crabitat except he’s a lot smaller, but as I’m staring at him, I’m thinking he might be getting bigger right before my very eyes.

“So, I grabbed my car keys and my wallet and went to Chick-Fil-A for chicken nuggets, waffle fries and an ice dream. Chicken nuggets and ice dreams calm my nerves.

“Speaking of chicken and dreams, I woke up the other morning and could have sworn I smelled fried chicken, like how grandma would be in the kitchen making chicken and biscuits for breakfast when we went to Alabama in the summer to visit her, and we would smell it all the way at the back of the house and jump out of bed and race to the kitchen to get the first plate.

“She would send us back to wash our hands and Aunt Caroline would call us ‘nasty little children’. She was right, of course, because we didn’t bother with hot water or soap, just a bit of a splash to get our hands damp enough to pass inspection, and then we would race back to the kitchen and the chicken would be so juicy our elbows would drip as we were eating it.

“Jonathon would lick his elbows and then Aunt Caroline would call us ‘nasty little children’ again.

“Well, the smell of fried chicken was so strong when I woke up the other day that I jumped out of bed and ran to my kitchen. All I found was an overripe banana, so I got dressed and hoofed it over to Hillbilly’s. Isn’t that the funniest name?

“I had never been in there before, but I pass by it a lot and there’s usually a line, so I figured it was probably good. There was no line when I got there, but that’s because they were closed. Too early.

“I did see someone inside, so I knocked on the door several times. She saw me but she never would come and talk to me or let me in.

“I was getting ready to knock again but then she said something like, ‘I’m going to call the guards’. I didn’t stick around to find out if I’d heard her correctly.”

TOMORROW: “Thankfully, someone mentioned The Donkey Sanctuary to me which was perfect because I adopted sweet little Roisin... I visit her when I can”

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