Monday, March 22, 2010

GOLDFISH WHISPERER

Hey Campfire buddies,

Since my last few posts have been on the serious side, I thought it might be a good idea to lighten up a bit. Not that I don’t take this “Goldfish Whisperer” stuff seriously—I have never taken anything more seriously in my life. Well… except maybe for Al Gore causing global warming with his enormous electricity usage…

I guess I better explain what a Goldfish Whisperer is for those of you who live in the Midwest and consider terms like “white pride” to mean rotating the tires on your house once a month…

It’s a relatively new profession, arriving in a natural progression from the older and better-publicized profession of “Horse Whisperer” from a movie that you may have giggled through and missed some of the defining characteristics.

First came the guys (and gals—it’s not a sexist industry, so relax, NOW!) who were able to read horses' minds and converse with them in a special language only they and those folks who wear aluminum colanders on their heads to keep aliens from penetrating their brainial cavities can understand. Or appreciate. Or, even speak—very few of the words in the language contain vowels. The language, when overheard by the uninitiated, sounds like someone’s reading lists of the names of Eastern European immigrants who mistakenly went to Easter Island rather than where they intended to go—Ellis Island—and were being relocated via ships provided by the humanitarian organization, Acorn, for the purpose of giving them houses they could never pay for in return for a simple thing—their vote in an upcoming election of their choice. A truly altruistic undertaking.

The next step on the journey of whisperer evolution was those folks who could speak to canines, called (cleverly!) Dog Whisperers. These talented practitioners could only speak to certain dogs, however. Namely: designer dogs. The ones that cost a boatload of money and wore precious little outfits purchased by owners who’ve spent most of their lives watching reality shows starring Paris Hilton—darling little sweaters designed by Bill Blass, intended for the harsh climate of Los Angeles and their fierce Santa Ana winds. Dog whisperers would turn up their noses if you brought in Buford, your black and tan hound for a chat! Buford doesn’t have much of a range of conversation, unless you count, “We’re low on PBR” and “Pee on your own tree!” as thoughts. No, dog whisperers commune only with French poodles and breeds like Chihuahuas (“Chihuahua” means “little rat-like yappy critter, good for barbecuing with hickory” in the Tex-Mex dialect of Odessa, Texas.

From dog whispering came the next and latest step on the evolutionary tree.

Goldfish whisperers.

It’s an all-inclusive term, encompassing more than baby carp. However, the primary source of business for practitioners remains goldfish.

Lest you think that this is a skill you, too, can learn, let me dissuade you of that notion! It’s a skill only a very few humans are blessed with. I, myself was unaware of my talents until one day I was at the home of a friend, doing research into which blends of Peruvian cannabis were the most harmful so we could warn our children, when out of the ether, I heard this voice, saying, “Don’t. Go. Near. The. Bathroom.” (It sounded exactly like Mr. Magoo during his “Blue” period. If you’re too young to remember Mr. Magoo, he was a near-sighted and highly-talented artist who sometimes painted without his glasses on and during those times went by the appellation of “Picasso.” Very famous dude, back in the “day.” Today, his art costs more than the wardrobes of many Chihuahuas.)

At first, I thought it was my research pal, “Stubby” MacIntyre, but no, Stubby was catching a nap on the couch, and besides, Stubby always sounded like Peter Graves, even when he was talking in his nod, er, sleep. (Peter Graves, in case you’re too young to remember, was the guy who taught Marshall Dillon how to fast-draw. If you don’t remember Marshall Dillon, you’re in an alternate universe and none of these references will make sense, I’m afraid. You should probably get back on your spaceship before it leaves and you’re stuck here. You’ll find Monday mornings are murder on this planet, and barely tolerable.)

At any rate, I thought I was dreaming my own self, when I heard the voice again. “Why don’t you buy me a girlfriend?” That’s when I knew it wasn’t Stubby as one thing Stubby is if he’s anything and that’s a realist. Never in a million years would Stubby want a girlfriend. If he had a girlfriend, he would run the risk of having her tell everyone where his nickname came from and that, as his best friend who knows things about Stub, is something I’m positive he doesn’t want to take place.

I tried answering the voice. “Who are you?” I said. (I never said I was a genius detective and I never claimed to write brilliant dialogue, did I?)

Surprise! The voice answered back!

“I’m over here,” he said.

“Over where?” I said. (Okay, okay! I’m gonna work on that dialogue thing. But, don’t kill the messenger. I’m just reporting here, trying to do my job!)

I found the voice. It was a lone goldfish, swimming in Stubby’s fishbowl. It was hard to see the fish from all the smoke residue coating the glass.

As it turns out, I could not only hear fish talking, but I could understand what they were saying! It was one of those moments you don’t soon forget! We chinned a bit and Fred—that’s what he told me his name was—said he was so happy I could hear him. Seems he was doing the backstroke just to kill the tedium the day before and Stubby thought he was dying and started to take him to the bathroom and do a mercy burial at sea. Fred said he realized what was happening and immediately began doing the Australian crawl and Stubby took him back. He said he didn’t know there was a human being who could understand him, but ever since he’d been repeating the same thing, over and over. “Don’t go near the bathroom.” Fred said he figured it was hopeless, but he thought his only chance at survival was the slim hope that Stubby would hear him subliminally and stay away from the bathroom.

I woke Stubby up and explained everything that had happened. Stubby’s a realist if he’s anything, and he never questioned the validity of what I was laying on him, only said, “Jesus! I’ve been holding it all day! Now I can take a whiz!.”

Not to bore you with everything that happened after that, other than to report (happily) that Stubby bought Fred a babe goldfish… only it turned out it was another guy, but even that turned out fine as it turns out Fred was a closet gay and never knew it until he saw that gorgeous dorsal fin on Betty (what Stubby had named his new fish.).

The upshot was that I saw an upside to all this in that I decided to market myself as the “Goldfish Whisperer.” I am planning on running an ad in the L.A. Times tomorrow and hire a receptionist who can type at least 25 wpm. And file.

I can provide a useful and even necessary service to mankind. When the family goes to Epcot, I can talk to their goldfish beforehand and figure out what kind of food they should tell the neighbor boy to feed him while they’re gone. I’ve been thinking. If I get really good at this stuff, I figure I can go down to the jetty at Marco Island and ask the sharks where all the pirate gold is. I’ll just promise ‘em a few homeless people to chow on. Looks like a win-win all around...

Comments welcome. Just respect the profession, please.

14 comments:

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You crack me up! :-)

Thank you for commenting on my blog. I hope you noticed all the positive feedback from others who love your book. I plan to do several more posts as I continue to read Hooked, and I hope that's okay. Thanks for leaving your blog address for me. I will post it on my sidebar and include it in future posts.

I hope you'll pop in once in a while. :-)

Les Edgerton said...

Thanks, Shannon! I plan to look at it each day. I went back to other postings and you rock!

And, I did notice all the nice things folks had to say. That was kind of a surprise. Usually, there's a naysayer or two in the bunch, but you seem to have an especially gracious bunch of readers who genuinely want their writing to be the best it can be and have checked their egos and any kind of "know-it-all" attitudes at the door. Very refreshing. Blue skies, Les

Falen said...

hmmm, do i count as a Goldfish Whisperer if mine come to the front of the tank when i feed them?

Les Edgerton said...

Falen, you may be one of the Chosen Few who are blessed in having the ability to talk to goldfish! Welcome to the club! One word of caution: Don't tell many people about this as they look at you funny and may trail you around the room at parties...

To see if you are, indeed a Whisperer, tell them you are going to take them on a field trip to the toilet stool and observe if they begin swimming in a frenzy. If they do... CONGRATULATIONS!... you are, indeed, a Whisperer!

Les Edgerton said...

Sarah, I'm sorry for calling you "Falen"--didn't realize that wasn't your name! (Fred, the goldfish, told me my error...)

Falen said...

LOL - well Falen is my online name which i haven't ditched yet, so call me Falen or Sarah, i answer to both!
as for the toilet, no they just came to the front of the tank, looking for food.
Sad. I was looking forward to these magical abilities

Charmaine Clancy said...

Wandered over from Book Dreaming (hi Shannon!) and enjoyed this post so much, I checked out your books and now have the Kindle edition of Hooked (I think it was the pic of the goldfish that got me).

I can't talk to goldfish, only give the whisper of death to seamonkeys.

Great blog :-)

Les Edgerton said...

Welcome Charmaine!Thanks a lot for joining our group. We're a merry bunch...

Susan Fields said...

I too came over from Shannon's blog. I'm still laughing over Mr. Magoo and the dogs in designer sweaters. I don't suppose those dog whisperers would want to speak to my almost-purebred (?) Golden Retriever stray who thinks jumping on guests (in a friendly way) is the main responsibility of the dog of the house?

Hooked looks great - I'm struggling with my opening right now. I'm so glad Shannon mentioned it on her blog.

Les Edgerton said...

Welcome to our little koffee klatch, Susan! Hope you enjoy your visits and the good news is you don't have to wash the dishes afterward--I do that! My treat.

I visited your web site and saw you were concerned about your opening and whether you should use a prologue or not. Hope my book helps!

Let us know when you sell it so we can buy copies.

Blue skies,
Les

Shirley Tribble said...

Enjoyed Hooked. Can't wait to read more.

Shirley

Les Edgerton said...

Hi Shirley and delighted to see you here! For the rest of you guys, Shirley and I go way back. She's a dear, dear friend.

carlrbrush said...

REJUSTIFYING JUSTIFIED

In my March 21 blog at www.writerworking.net, I lionized the premiere of an Elmore Leonard generated TV series called Justified. Two or three episodes have gone under the bridge now, and I thought it was worth taking a second look. My writing buddy and mentor, Les Edgerton, who first put me on to the series, announced himself as “not sold” after viewing the pilot. He said Timothy Oliphant was “soft around the edges,” smiled too often.
I think the show has sustained the validity of my positive comments about the show’s ambience, its dialogue, the accents of the actors. And I can’t say I fully buy with Les’s criticisms of Oliphant. I mentioned the opening gunslinging scene. There have been others, such as the fast draw encounter in the last episode. Oliphant’s wry, self-knowing grin works well in these situations to convey the sense of a tough guy with a sense of humor and an appreciation for human frailty even while performing a “justified” killing. And it’s okay with me that he puddled up a bit after he had to shoot one of the friends of his youth. But there is something to what Les says, and it’s in the writing as much as in the acting.
Marshall Raylan Givens has a woman problem. He comes within an ace of sleeping with an old flame who is also a material witness. He also has jumped bones with another woman (no conflict of interest with her) he had vowed to leave alone because his ultimate goal is to get out of KY and he wants to create no encumbrances. Common problem, right? So where’s the flaw? This TV Raylan Givens is not pursuing his manly desires, but giving in to his lusts despite his vows to the contrary. Weak. Out of control. Not an Elmore Leonard hero. Or so it seems to me.
There’s still plenty in Justified to recommend it, and I’ll continue to DVR the series and plunk myself down for it from time to time. But, there is, I must agree with Les to a certain extent, that softness around the edges...

Les Edgerton said...

Carl, great post! I haven't commented on the series yet, because I just can't make up my mind. I think the lead character has been miscast. He just doesn't strike me as an Elmore Leonard character. I thought at first, from the promos, that he was, but I have a lot of doubts, now.

I think Justified is much better than what Hollywood does to Leonard. Infinitely better than that godawful "Get Shorty" was!

I want to watch it a couple of more times before I venture my opinion on it...

I appreciate your take on it!