When my father tired of a place, he would occasionally dust off his seldom-used South Philly accent, lean over to me, and quietly say, “Let’s throw this place a fish”.
It’s a combination of words I’ve heard only one other human being place in that particular order– a woman named Catherine who grew bored of hanging around a bowling alley simply to humor her co-workers. She looked surprised that I knew what she meant without her having to explain. She told me I didn’t sound like I was from her part of Philadelphia. I said “No, but my father is” and she seemed pleased that we understood each other.
It’s a phrase so arcane that even Google doesn’t seem to have heard of it and no one in my family could be absolutely certain of its origin or accurate meaning. Dad and I settled on the idea that it came from tossing fish to performing seals when they’d finished a trick onstage, but neither of us were ever completely convinced it was the best explanation. Whatever it’s origin, “Let’s throw this place a fish” means “Let’s get the hell out of here”, plain and simple.
Late last May, my father threw this world a fish, you might say. He’d had roughly 89 years of decent health. His 90th, however, was a doozy. My stepmother, who was 12 years younger than Dad, died 19 days after him– something no one quite saw coming–at least not with such mind-numbing swiftness. My sister and I always assumed she would be around to help take care of her husband in his declining years. But they did everything together, so it should have come as no surprise at all that they began their respective declines in tandem.
I won’t bore you with the details. But I learned that being a full-time care taker for a dying parent is heartbreaking and grim, to put it mildly. Doing it for two parents at the same time is exponentially harder. There’s no such thing as a happy ending with these things.
Mourning is so odd– one never knows what form it might take. In the case of my father and stepmother, my brain simply decided to close up shop and shut out the world. I’ve seen very few people, gone very few places, and gotten very little accomplished.
And it’s been eye-wateringly dull.
It’s been more than two years since I’ve written anything more complicated than a grocery list and I’ve come to discover that I’ve missed it terribly. I miss the art of it, the discipline it requires, and the mental clarity it affords.
And I miss connecting with my readers, if you’re still out there.
The last several years have been rather rough. The loss of my mother (also to dementia), a heart attack, 4 years of Trump, and the isolation of COVID took a heavy toll on the old mental health over here, which isn’t terribly surprising. Life has felt relentlessly bleak and deadly serious for what feels like eons. As a result, Food for The Thoughtless gradually became a “Let’s read along as Michael’s emotional state degrades in real time!” sort of thing and I felt as though I had no right to be arch and (hopefully) amusing what with the world going to hell.
Turns out I was terribly, terribly wrong. We could all use a good laugh, myself very much included. And my time away has caused me to miss out on the human connections I have made here over the years. I miss writing. A lot. I miss my readers. Also a lot.
But I do not miss this blog.
I think Food for The Thoughtless has had a long, eventful life, but all things must come to an end, good or otherwise.
In other words, I’m throwing this place a fish.
It’s time to turn the page (or click, since this is web-based reading material) and start afresh. It’s time to allow myself to enjoy writing again.
You may be asking yourself, “Does this mean what I think it means?”
And the answer is “Yes, Dear Reader, I have started freaking Substack.”
Simply follow this link to my new home: SPATCHCOCK
And please be sure to subscribe.
It’s about [insert expletive here] time I had something fun to look forward to.