Below is an excerpt from a book I’m writing called Adventures in Fishing (for Men). The book is a satirical allegory about Christian attempts at evangelism. He who has ears to hear…
It was true what my neighbor said. When I looked through the magazines, all the pictures showed boats in rivers and lakes. But I had no intention of going fishing on a river or lake. I was kind of scared of water, and had used a pool because it was safer. If something happened, I could just jump out. Jumping out of a boat was not possible in a lake or river.
And fish could live in a pool, couldn’t they? Why not? Water is water, right? Why couldn’t I just go buy some fish, put them in my pool, and then fish for them?
Sure, it would defeat the purpose of catching all the free fish I could eat, because I would have to buy the fish before I caught them, but technically, if I bought them and set them free in my pool, and then caught them again, they were free fish. This is especially true if they reproduced in the pool! If they reproduced, I could keep my boat safely in the pool and still catch all the free fish I wanted.
The plan was genius. This was just another reason I was going to be a world-famous fisherman. Probably no one had ever thought of this before. Imagine the magazine articles that will be written about how I revolutionized the fishing strategies of fishermen everywhere! But first I needed to prove that my idea worked.
I went down to the pet store and asked to buy fish. The pimple-faced teenager behind the counter wanted to know what kind.
“One of each,” I told him. “I’m a fisherman, and want to have experience catching all different kinds of fish.”
“Some of them are kind of expensive. Are you sure you want one of each?”
He clearly didn’t believe I was serious about fishing.
“No expense is too great for the avid fisherman,” I told him. “Not only do I want one of each, but I will also need food for them. I want them to be well-fed. Also, I need them to reproduce. Fast. Do you have any tips on getting them to reproduce? Maybe some sort of special love potion for fish or something?”
“Well, for starters, you’re going to need at least two of each fish. Maybe more. With some fish, we can tell which ones are male and which ones are female. For most, though, we can’t tell until they start laying eggs.”
I wasn’t born yesterday. This kid was trying to scam me for sure. I had made the mistake of telling him that the avid fisherman spared no expense, and now he was trying to sell me two of each fish! But I wasn’t about to roll over that easily.
“This isn’t my first time around the rodeo, sonny boy. I know what I’m talking about. Fish are fish, and they can mate with each other. I don’t want to mate a fish with one of those parrots over there. I had dogs growing up, and a male dog can hump any female dog it wants.” I felt bad about using such coarse language, but I couldn’t allow myself to be pushed around by this punk kid. I had to make my point.
I had noticed that this boy was wearing a crucifix, so decided to quote Scripture at him.
“As the Bible says, ‘God created each animal after its kind.’ A dog is a kind of animal, and can mate with any other dog. A fish is also a kind, and can mate with any other fish. Telling me that a fish can only mate with fish that look the same is like telling me that white people can only mate with white people. You’re not racist, are you? ‘Cause that’s racist.”
He looked uncomfortable. This told me all I needed to know. He didn’t realize I knew so much about fish, and he was now ashamed I had caught him in his attempt at extortion. To protect all future customers, I decided to put the fear of God in him.
“I’m thinking about calling over the store manager to tell him how you tried to steal my money. But I won’t. You need to be honest from now on. You know where liars go, don’t you?”
“Fine,” he mumbled. “One of each it is.”
“And some food too,” I reminded him. “But just one big container is enough. They’ll all be in the same pool.”
He stared at me for a second.
“You can’t put some of these fish together. They’ll kill and eat each other if you do that. And you put fish in an ‘aquarium,’ not a pool. Also, some of them need fresh water, and some salt water. And they don’t all eat the same thing. Each fish needs different kinds of food.”
This kid was really trying my patience. How can he be working here when he doesn’t know anything about fish? Since he clearly was getting a terrible education in public school, I decided it was up to me to provide what his teacher and parents were not.
“You are just trying to steal my money again, and so in just a minute, I’m going to call the manager over and get you fired.”
He started to stammer his objections, but I went on.
“There are four reasons I know you are lying. First, all these fish can be put together, because that’s the way God made them. All water on earth is connected, right? Streams and rivers flow into lakes which flow into more streams and rivers until eventually, they all dump into the ocean. So they’re all connected, and all fish are together. These ones will do just fine if I put them all in the pool.
“Second, when I said ‘pool’ I meant ‘pool.’ I don’t care for your use of the fancy word ‘aquarium.’ If you want people to understand you, you need to speak the common, every-day language, and not use fancy words just to make yourself sound smart. Big words don’t make you sound smart; they make you sound like a dumb person who is trying to sound smart. I am going to put my fish in a swimming pool, and that’s what I’m going to call it—a pool. That way, my neighbor will understand what I’m talking about. If I called my pool an ‘aquarium’ he would give me that blank stare he always does when I say things that he doesn’t understand. He’s not very smart, just like you.
“Third, I already thought about the salt water. I saw a show on the Discovery Channel where some fish live in the ocean, and then they travel up fresh water rivers to mate and lay eggs. While I don’t believe in evolution, I do believe that animals can adapt to changes in their environment, and so I think these fish can adapt. But to make it easy on them, I’m going to pour a couple containers of salt into my pool. This way, the pool will be half salty, somewhere between the saltiness of the ocean, and the freshness of the lake. Both kinds of fish will adapt.
“Finally, I’m not going to buy any your fancy-shmancy fish food. I was going to buy some, just to support your cause here, but now that you have tried to rob me two times, I’m not going to buy any food at all. Fish in the lakes and rivers don’t get special pet-store fish food and they do just fine. God provides them with all the food they need, and he will provide food for the fish in my swimming pool also.”
The kid just stared at me with his mouth slightly open. The look on his face was a lot like the look my neighbor gives me whenever I catch him in one of his illogical arguments. Now that I had corrected this kid in his faulty thinking, I had to do the difficult job of making sure he never took advantage of anyone else.
“Go get your manager so he can fire you,” I told him.
As the boy walked off, he looked genuinely scared. It’s too bad I had to give him this lesson in the harsh realities of life. Parents these days shelter their kids too much. The sooner a child learns the vital importance of honesty, integrity, and kindness, the better off they’ll be. And they need to understand that if they aren’t honest, trustworthy, and kind, they will suffer the consequences. They could go to jail, end up murdered on the street, or worse yet, burn in hell for eternity. I always try to rescue such people, but they are usually too far gone by the time I meet them. I always wondered how people got that way.
But when the manager came over, I discovered why the boy was so ignorant, corrupt, and greedy. The manager supported and defended everything the kid had told me!
“I see where he learned his lies,” I said. “So just sell me my fish, and I will be going. And trust me, I will never be back to this crooked pet store again. In fact, I’m going tell all my friends to stay away from this place. I hope you go out of business!”
And wouldn’t you believe it, when they gave me the fish—one of each from the entire store—most of the fish were smaller than my pinkie finger! They sold me baby fish! After the first few, I objected and told them that I wanted adult fish, and they said these fish were full grown! I know a full grown fish when I see one, and these tiny minnows wouldn’t provide a single mouthful for me, let alone a meal. But I know when to hold my tongue. Besides, baby fish would grow into adults. So even though I wasn’t happy about it, I paid for my fish and left.
On my way out the door, I looked back over my shoulder and saw the two of them laughing. They probably charged me too much for the fish or something.