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free fallin

All you had to do was have one of your quarters stay on the little glass pedestal to win. Even though you saw the guy manning the booth walk by and blast the top of the pedestal with some sort of no-stick spray every now and then it appeared to be a winnable proposition. Put a little arc on the coin and try to have it land softly.

If your coin managed to hang on you won a goldfish.

They sat on a shelf in the back. Amidst all the noise and colored lights. Swimming in little circles in their glass bowls.

And it made me think that they must think that this existence is perfectly normal for a goldfish. They see other goldfish in the identical situation so they probably assume that all goldfish live this way. Life is a series of being dragged out of one tank and being put in another. If their god was a narrator with a British accent he would be describing everything as completely reasonable. As if nothing unusual was going on.

If it were a salmon in the little glass bowl the fish would probably assume that at some point after being won and whisked off to some other destination far away that it would be expected of them to somehow make it back to the fair grounds to die. They might even wonder how a salmon might make its way back short of a taxi. And how they would pay for it.

Of course, if you’ve even seen a fish out of water, the way their mouth moves, you’d have to assume that the salmon might have to offer oral gratification to the driver of the taxi in exchange for the ride. The British narrator would not go into much detail on this point.

The two goldfish at the end of the shelf clearly had something going on between them. Some chemistry. They were doing that same kissing motion as if they were both out of the water. You couldn’t tell which was male or which was female but you assumed they knew and they were in the throes of some aquatic romance.

The narrator would explain everything to their satisfaction.

Except that the male goldfish, the one on the left, had overheard a conversation between the man that ran the booth and another man who ran the tilt-a-whirl that had him a little confused. The two men were arguing about a Tom Petty song that the fish had never heard. Free Fallin.

One man argued that it was an upbeat song. A song about how ‘bad boys’ have it easy and can float from one girl to the next. No strings.

The other claimed that while the word ‘free’ was repeated often it was always followed by ‘free fallin’, which clearly had a negative connotation. The ‘bad boy’ would eventually get his and end up alone and at least as miserable as the ‘good girl’ with the broken heart.

Now you must understand that a fish doesn’t understand the idea of falling to begin with. A fish’s world is not only side to side but up and down. There is no falling in the world of a fish.

Nor are there ‘bad boys’ or ‘good girls’. There are just fish sitting in glass bowls blowing kisses to each other before they are scooped up and sent off with a teenager that will no doubt feed them to his pet piranha as soon he arrives home with his prize.

All described in a very blasé and unemotional way by the British narrator/god.

So loud music is blaring and shrieks can be heard from the rollercoaster and Haunted House. Dirt hangs in the air from the thousands of feet walking up and down the concourse and corn dogs and cotton candy litter the ground. The male goldfish hopes that when his love is finally won that she is taken to a home with a big pond and she can live out the rest of her days under lily pads. A narrator with a thick British accent explains to the fish the point of it all.

The rough-looking man running the booth doesn’t see me staring at his fish. Trying to make eye contact. Trying to hear the narrator with a thick British accent explain the point of it all.

 

I wanna glide down over Mulholland

I wanna write her name in the sky

I’m gonna free fall out into nothin’

Gonna leave this world for awhile

-Tom Petty

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