Half as Much As a Fish Needs a Bicycle
by Brad Rose
According to the Surgeon General, it’s anybody’s guess. Of course, it’s not true, if you don’t’ say it out loud. Impossibly picturesque, the morning sky is gray and heavy, like a wet tent filled with uncertainty. Thank God, it’s just rain, not bullets.
When I was 21, I thought bar tending would be a lot of fun. My parents were policemen, but nobody liked car chases, anymore. So after college, I landed a job as an obituarist. Around the office, there were so many jokes about death, it wasn’t even funny. Although my writing was haunting, I took early retirement, so I could spend more time with my family. (At least, that’s what I told my parents when I moved back home, so they wouldn’t hound me to death.) While living at home, I made the natural transition to writing romance novels. Well, they weren’t exactly novel, they were pretty much the same thing over and over again— you know, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets rich, boy meets girl again, boy loses girl again—pretty much The Great Gatsby, but with far fewer summer woolens. I learned a lot as a writer, even if I couldn’t make a dime, or afford to move out. For example, every girl needs at least one polka-dotted item in her closet; if you’re very, very careful, you CAN get pregnant in the pool; and love conquers all, but it requires a lot of audience participation.
Anyway, the other day, my girlfriend, Esther, cornered me. She kissed me like she’d been practicing with an expert, or had been watching instructional videos on YouTube. “We’re not just jogging around the reservoir, you know,” she reminded me. Somehow, her demeanor made me feel like her love was some kind of a test. Although I really appreciated her efforts to let me complete the extra credit questions, I was in no hurry to end our hot-as-a pistol romance with a shotgun wedding. I reminded her that writing about romance and actually having one are two entirely different activities. If I had my way, we’d just be friends. Her advice to me: “Shut up and swallow your pride.” “It’s really not that complicated,” she said, “Marriage is a lot more fun that voter fraud.” Fortunately, I know an apodictic argument when I hear one. One thing about Esther: she is sharp as a Whippet.
We’re supposed to get married next week. It’s going to be a private ceremony. Like Ken and Barbie’s. Just the two of us, 4000 of Esther’s closest Facebook friends, and the paparazzi. Sure, I know marriage is a sacred institution. It’s not just playing house. But between you and me, I’m tempted to elope. I’ve always liked the great outdoors. Besides, like I always tell Esther, who needs marriage? It’s like a fish with two left shoes: one, a small, ladies’ pump, the other, a men’s oxblood wingtip. No matter how well they fit, they’re just not a good match. Instead, I’ve decided I’m going barefoot and staying single, just like Christ. Thank you, baby Jesus. Big time.