40. Tell Fish Stories
What do Jellyfish eat? How do most Octopuses die? Who would marry a Sea Urchin? Exactly how deep in debt has the bivalve mollusk dug itself with its stupid tongue-foot? I heard that dugongs and manatees are just the shape-shifted forms that mermaids, or merbutlers, use to escape human detection? What dark secrets lie behind the Narwhal’s beautiful ivory tusk? While all of these questions have easily researchable scientific ‘answers’1, if contemporary scientifictional assertions, declarations, and book deals have taught us anything it’s that science is woefully incomplete and actually can’t teach us anything, and that the answers that always felt the best are probably right, and that it doesn’t really matter anyways that’s just your opinion and my beliefs are just as valid as yours; misapplication of quantum mechanics.
Otherwise, Jenny McCarthy, and by extension Oprah Winfrey, would have, like, gallons, dump trucks, or even ancient aqueducts of dead children to answer for when their groundbreaking discovery that vaccines are just an evil corporate salesplot to give kids ‘The ‘Tarded’ and, in doing so, further line their profit-filled pockets by tripling sales of medicinal helmets and orthopedic Big Dog t-shirts, eventually results in the break down of herd immunity, allowing cured diseases to run epidemic through the mouths, noses, and buttholes of generations of the Saved. Which, of course, is a scientifictional impossibility, as they are too famous-ish and ubiquitous, respectively, to be so devastatingly wrong about a field completely unrelated to their area of demonstrated expertise (being occasionally naked and succeeding at being successful, respectively).
Also guilty of mass manslaughter.
What do Jellyfish eat? Peanut butter, of course! How do most octopuses die? Inability to adequately perform CPR! Just how deep in debt are bivalves? 113 inches! Who would marry a Sea Urchin? Other Sea Urchins Duh! It’s because their merlaws proscribe severe punishments for any merson caught ‘flashing scale’ to a legaver!2 What secrets lie behind the Narwhal’s beautiful, ivory tusk? We need only catch and kill one to find out!
All of these stories and more can you and your date bullshit to each other while basking beneath your favorite tanks. Maybe on a bench. Maybe body nestled in inviting lap, head laid back on a low shoulder, head leaning, drifting, side of the face flush against the chest, listening.
[DIAGRAM: “What That Sentence Was Supposed To Show” :GNISSIM MARGAID]
[CHART/SIDEBAR: “A Rubric For Use In Constructing Compelling Fish Lies”
Make a statement – examples:
+ “Mako Sharks do not have wieners,”
+ “Sea Urchins have prodigious wieners, one of the biggest in the animal kingdom relative to size,”
+ “Dolphins are bisexual”
Purpose – For awesomeness’s sake.
Also, spinning a story with (or against) someone is an excellent way to kick the four figurative tires of conversational co-operativity, compatibility of aesthetic, coalescence of personality, and amalgamated creativity without resorting to the less effective, and potentially misleading, construct of taste.
Pre-empt the presumed reaction and add a compounding statement –
+ “It’s true. They reproduce by exchanging sperm sacs instead!”
+ “It’s true. Their wieners were featured in a ten-page article in the most recent National Geographic– and six pages were a picture!”
+ “All of them, not just a couple; they’re all that way!”
Purpose – Strategic.
A ridiculous statement by itself is of little value beyond the Quirk3 of a non-sequitir; it is both easily disputed and quickly forgotten– and for good reason! For it is through the insistent and extensive defense of an absurd premise that one begins the reciprocal process of Being Awesome Together, or BATting.4 Here, by reaffirming their commitment to the , the storyteller is on their way to demonstrating their worth as a marginally interesting human being and, in doing so, has graciously invited the storytold to do the same.
Add detail –
+ “The sperm sac is expelled from the fin, those side fins that are like arms or hands, from a gland not dissimilar to Spider Man’s web shooter.”
+ “The article was about how sea urchin wieners are the perfect test bed for trying out and developing new cancer therapies because of sheer amount of cells that need to reproduce in order to maintain such a prodigious rod.”
+ “It’s like how human beings are straight people– the ratio is just about equal, it’s eerie. There are like 96% bisexual dolphins, and then the rest are straight or gay.”
Purpose – Tactical.
By expanding your story through the introduction of new ‘facts’ your story gains technical specificity that both (a) lends it a momentary and marginal plausibility, as the listener must account for whether it is possible to have come up with so intricate a falsehood this quickly5, and (b) trompes the cerveau by piling fake fact on top of fake fact on top of false premise, making it thereafter impossible to sift through all the accreted nonsense and extract the original absurdity. The richer the story, and the longer it takes to falsify, the more diverting the momentary distraction6 and, ideally, lasting the pleasant tallness of the tale.
Go further –
+ “In fact, in the Ultimate reboot, Peter Parker actually gets his web shooter from a Mako Shark fin.”
+ “And that scientists think that the cure for cancer is definitely going to come from sea urchin weiners. It’s either that or rainforest dudes.”
+ “And that’s what the documentary was about– it was about how dolphin pods would start to shun dolphins that would only have sex with one gender of dolphin”
Purpose – Generative.
Once sufficient detail is added, spinning the rest of your story should be easy. Just pick one of the details you’ve introduced, ideally one that diverts your story from its original course or purpose, and follow it to its illogical conclusion. Affect a matter of fact delivery and the resulting ramble is sure to provide the perfect improvisational fodder for the worthwhile potential mate, while merely impressing the uninteresting, and completely baffling the bearers of genetical poison.7
Tie it up –
+ “And in issue #133 the Mako Shark ‘web’ shooter takes over his body and Peter turns into Shark Man, a bad guy, and he eats Aunt May and that’s how the first volume ends.”
+ “But since it is still unethical to test on rainforest dudes, everyone is investing super heavily in sea urchin wieners and now they are almost endangered, according to the article.”
+ “And now the Church of England wants to make ice sculptures of boy and girl dolphins a key part of marriage ceremonies, as if they didn’t actually see the movie, and only heard about how gay dolphins got shunned, even though straight dolphins got shunned too, because they are still really mad about the Episcopalians and how they let gay people marry each other. And this has led to this ridciulous 3,000% boom in the ice sculpture business in this one town in Northern England, Planet Money said.”
Purpose – All Good Things Must Come To An End, Parts 1 & 2.
Troi and Worf’s relationship and its potential detrimental effects their future relationship with Commander Riker and Starfleet in general; Data is very robo-fetching with that ridiculous skunk-like streak of grey; are Picard’s skips in time the result of his degenerative brain disease or is Q really sending him back and forth in time; someone finally cures blindness, or at least comes up with a treatment that is less ridiculous than Space Glasses.
+ “Fucking Bendis!”
+ “It’s like Sean Connery and Lorraine Bracco never, after an acrimonious beginning, learned to work together and, through doing so, fell in love!”
+ “Remember when Tina Fey played Sarah Palin!”
Purpose – Gilt.
Unless an expert, it is best to avoid what can often be a recidivist impulse to abuse reference and invoke taste. For the experienced storyteller, a well-crafted mot de grace, employed with the right combination of knowing ridiculousness and childlike exuberance/semi-genuine enthusiasm can be the perfect full-circle non-sequitur tag to your delightful pile of crap.]
1‘Mostly small fish, zooplankton, shrimp and other jellyfish;’ ‘Don’t be ridiculous;’ ‘Stop wasting my time;’ ‘Ugh… that’s not even a question. And then they clutch their brow;’ and ‘I’m calling the cops,’ respectively.
2A portmanteau form of ‘leg haver,’ pronounced similar to ‘palaver’.
3See [Wherever the Sidebar/Essay about Quirk is going to go] for a more in-depth consideration of Quirk.
4Please refer to page 378 in the Addendappendices for instructions on how to make your own BASEball card– complete with BATting Average, BATting Style, Total BASEs, Dick Size/RVT, VORF, and other vital dating stats (1-10 Derek Number, DECOTA projection, Annual Income, Occupational Satisfaction Forecast, STI History, Cell/E-mail/Facebook/Twitter, a crisp stick of old chewing gum).
6From our dumb and stupid lives.
7This of course assumes that you, yourself, are worth half a damn at doing this thing and I apologize in advance for making an ass of u and me. However, regardless of the quality of your storytelling, the act of bullshitting can still be a useful slotting tool, as the evaluation scales to your relative mediocrity or incompetence. For example, if you are a well-adjusted person of suitable to above-adequate attractiveness and charisma, your resulting botched-good-effort should inspire equally useful responses. If neither of you are even aware of the fact that you sort of suck and find that you’re both able to genuinely enjoy your, no doubt cliche-ridden and meme-based, predictable progression of light wackiness: You Are Just As Perfect For Each Other As The Overly Precious Skilled Storytelling Couple (If Not More So). If, on the other hand, your old college try is met with slackmouthed and browtwisted befuddlement, followed by the claim that you are “crazy, you’re crazy, man/girl,” as if your shoddily assembled string of sequiturs made you the next Carlos Mencia, then accept the compliment in the manner it was offered while waiting for the first lull in conversation to excuse yourself the hell away from this evolutionary oubliette. (And if no opportunity should present itself within the next, say, two to three minutes, make your own luck by pointing to the window and asking if they ‘saw that,’ or inquiring about the status of their shoelaces). If, on the other other hand, when observing their face while you talk, you find them completely unable to even fake that they’re not just waiting for you to stop so that they can one-up you, and that the only time they laugh is while trying to tack on a witty rejoinder to their clever riposte to their hypothetical response to their own stupid premise that they spun off of the subconscious Adult Swim crib you stumbled through fifteen minutes ago, feel free to check out mid-conversation and go find someone else more demonstrably human. It’s ok– I’ll get tired of myself eventually, or at least the lights will turn off and I’ll either be tricked into falling asleep or hit on the head from behind with a heavy object. A lamp, maybe, or a ceramic bowl – perhaps a specially kept Guest Mallet. Yes, it’s a proper noun/It happens more often than you’d think.
8 Esoterotica: the display, ostentatious or slipped off-cuff, of deep-cut gems, nuggets, and dingleberries of random (pop-)cultural knowledge, often dilettantish or overly-specific (see: the preceding entry) in nature; it is one of the most vivid feathers in the plumage of contemporary taste-based peacocking, and should be received skeptically, but reserving backlash until evaluation of contextual relevance and EVVE (entertainment value versus extraneousness) is complete.
9Sort of like a bon mot, but shouted. And sort of dumb.