I am a lousy fisherman.
I lack motivation.
On any given day, I have about thirty pounds of beautiful, fresh, Gulf grouper in the Beach Bistro’s coolers.
I was a keener fisherman when I was a kid. I would lie on my stomach on my Uncle George’s dock all day long, staring down at stubborn little perch who refused to bite onto the bent pin at the end of my string.
I spent hours cursing the little suckers as they stole bits of bacon and periwinkles off that pin.
They were down there belly-laughing at the silly Irish kid at the other end of the string.
I recently had the opportunity to renew my youthful study of small fish.
I concocted a hare-brained marketing scheme to bring back the tourists who were chased away by the Red Tide hysteria.
My project starred cute little goldfish.
At Eat Here we would give the goldfish to kids. The cute little kids would get their pictures taken with the cute little gold fish.
The pictures would explode on social media under #livefishannamaria.
(Live-Fish-Anna-Maria. Red Tide. Get it…?)
Tourists everywhere would think the kids with the fish were cute. We would direct them to the Beach Bistro Beach Cam and they could see that the beaches are beautiful again.
The tourists would all come back.
The kids loved the fish.
The parents hated the fish.
They wouldn’t let the kids take the fish home.
The kids pitched fits and turned into screaming little heathens.
They all got mad at us.
Apparently, the road to hell is also paved with bad marketing ideas.
Some good came from my marketing misadventure.
While shopping for goldfish I met some lovely people who sell fish at the pet store.
While they helped me collect the gold fish I started watching the fish in the other fish tanks.
There was high drama being acted out in the tank next to the goldfish.
There were about eight fish in the tank.
The biggest fish was harassing the bejeezuz out of the others.
I named him Meanfish.
Meanfish was constantly darting around and nipping at one fish’s tail and then biting another fish’s fins.
He chased the smallest fish around and around the little plastic castle in the middle of the tank.
That smallest fish was a nervous wreck. He looked like Jeff Sessions.
The bullying was making all the other fish miserable.
Meanfish began to aggravate the hell out of me.
Then I discovered a little sticker on the tank.
It said the price for Meanfish was only $3.99.
For a measly four bucks I could buy Meanfish right out of that tank and give those other guys a better life.
Five minutes and four and change later I was holding Meanfish in a little glass bowl and there was a palpable sigh of fish relief rippling through that tank.
The sense of calm was profound.
I wish the solutions to all my moral dilemmas were as cheap and simple.
I gifted Meanfish to a waiter who has three boys. Last I heard he was living off the mosquito larvae in their rain barrel and the boys were having fun chasing him around.
Occasionally I go back to the pet store and visit those other fish.
It’s hard to tell with fish… but I think they are glad to see me.
Insightful stories, colorful commentary and subtle political incorrectness by Sean Murphy, proprietor of Beach Bistro, Eat Here and The Doctor's Office, Holmes Beach, Florida – Anna Maria Island, USA, as syndicated to The Anna Maria Islander and Anna Maria Island SUN newspapers.