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It’s Lent, which, in our household, means fish on Fridays.  Or at least no meat with legs.  Well, legs that don’t scuttle on the bottom of a body of water.  Yes, I realize there are a million arguments for why this is silly, but it’s a tradition we’ve adopted and we try to stick to it.

Several years ago there were fish fries all over our area.  The Moose, Eagles, and other animal-themed confraternities used the famed fish fry as a fundraiser and social event.  And we let them raise our funds.

The last two years, however, the fish fries have dried up.  Even the regular restaurants have become stingy with advertising fish specials on Fridays.

Why is the American Council of Bishops not meeting to discuss this?  Forget the Blunt Amendment!  How can we be good Catholics without Lenten fish fries?

This sad contextualization leads us to this particular Friday evening.  We headed out in search of a fish fry knowing that, as a last resort, we could seek refuge at a small-town dining establishment that offers fish on its menu.  My husband even hoped for a fish buffet.

No fish fries and no fish buffet.  Indeed, downgraded to a series of plated fish dinner specials.

We had been there no more than five minutes when I was reminded why this was our last resort.

The tables look like they came from inside recreational vehicles.  The chairs were designed when Americans were six inches shorter and fifty pounds lighter.  The whole restaurant feels like a mobile home that’s been gutted and outfitted with this fine dining furniture.

The walls are adorned with bronzish metal sculptures of flowers (lots of metal flowers in our area) and trains along with the occasional abstract metal shape, each of which bears a tag proclaiming the artist and a price.  Whose aunt makes those?  And have they ever sold one?  These grim reminders of our area’s lack of high culture and, let’s just be honest, taste, do nothing to minimize the grim reality of the tiny chairs and tables crammed together inside the flimsy walls.

The wait staff, on the other hand, tends to be robust, which makes the tiny aisles between tables more dangerous than interesting.

At least the wait staff are clearly distinguishable from the patrons.  Their t-shirts have sleeves.  And their shoes are close-toed.

Old men wearing flip flops.  Aging breasts improperly supported by equally aging bras.  The collective wardrobe the product of sweatshops across the developing world.  Undershirts worn as outerwear, and not by young women seeking to be sexy.  Everywhere proof that the American population leads a sedentary lifestyle that makes us vulnerable to clinical obesity.  Victims of this lifestyle consuming plates of fried fish.  An ambulance waiting in the parking lot with paddles charged.  I felt positively svelte.  And well-put-together.  It’s all relative.

I hate to sound like such a snob, but the visual hits were coming at me fast and furious and I hadn’t even brought my phone to be able to text my husband discreetly from across the table.  Where do texts go when you can’t send them?

Apparently your blog.

A trip to the restroom with our daughter.  A voice from the other stall asks, “Hello?” and, just before I, surprised, respond, the conversation continues and the occupant/interlocutor invites someone to join her for dinner.  When my daughter flushes, the response, with no shame, that, “yes, I’m in the bathroom.”

Virgil, where are you?  What ring are we in?  Can we please go back to the lake with souls trapped in the ice?  And can you ask Jesus if next Friday we can just eat whatever is in the fridge?

If it helps, I promise to fry the hell out of it.