I imagine I was starting to look skeletal that summer, though, at that tender age it went under appreciated by me. I was still entirely unaware of the nod of approval the world gives women for looking hungry. The stinking smell of fish that permeated my skin, my hair, my clothes and everything inside that little trout gutting shack was enough to leave me uninspired to ever pack a sandwich to work. And the bucket of fish entrails—some of their tiny hearts still beating madly for nothing. I’ll just sip on air and sunshine, thank you.
Mmmm… sunshine. The tan I had that summer was tremendous, deep and dark—as dark as a 14 year-old polish girl can acquire. If the basal cell carcinoma ever catches up to me I can safely attribute it to that summer, because shortly after then I crushed hard on Nicole Kidman and I haven’t seen the sun since.
Dell Argyle’s Trapper’s Trout Farm
The day of my job interview was the first day of my job. Bless him for having that kind of confidence in me. Dell paid 6 dollars an hour and in those days, for me, it was a fortune.
The interview process began with a demonstration of minor murder, which, I imagine, all butchers and maybe the mafia can relate to. It went something like this: A customer brought their 5 gallon bucket full of panicked, disoriented fish into the shack and handed it over to Dell. He reached into the bucket, pulled out a beautifully farmed rainbow trout, held it firmly in his left hand over a blood and guts splattered sink and THWAKED the fish over the head with a wooden priest. The sound of that crack was sickening and strangely satisfying. One thwack and the fish was dead, brains obliterated. Disemboweling came next. Dell wielded the knife, ran it straight up the soft belly of the fish to its gullet (gosh, you prayed the thing really was dead…), pulled down on its delicate jaw bone and out all of it came. All of it. He tossed the warm guts into a bucket swarming with flies, ran his thumb up the spine of the fish to get out whatever that last line of coagulation is, rinsed the fish off and reverently placed it in a plastic bag. Masterful.
“And that’s how it’s done!” He said smiling as he handed the priest to the wide eyed polish girl in the room. Me. That was me. I took it, reached into the bucket of fish running for the cover they would never find, hesitantly picked one out, silently prayed for forgiveness, took aim for that sweet, brain obliterating spot and 1… 2… 3…
And I still can’t eat trout.