Still there is some call for someone to cook. I do not mind cooking but know that I won’t. A busy day will lead right up to the supper hour and evening appointments follow. There is time in there for prayer and eating but not much for just being quiet for spell. So I know, from experience, that I will not cook. In my younger days I would sacrifice eating. Today, I would subsist entirely on salami sandwiches with tons of mayo. So food is still arranged.
The former pastor gathered a team of cooks who volunteered to make dinner for the rectory four days a week headed up by a team captain who served as rectory cook for special occasions. Fr. Karg set a meeting with the captain of the kitchen one day before handing over the reigns of the parish. When she walked into the kitchen I cried out, “Cathy!” and threw her a hug. We had been great friends in college and had sort of lost track of each other. Fate would throw us back together at St. Sebastian.
After catching up, we discussed dietary needs. I am really quite easy to feed. The only requirement was no fish. Nothing that comes out of the water. Every time I mentioned this people would laugh much to my confusion, Cathy finally told me that the reason was that the former pastor would only eat fish.
“Please tell people I am allergic to fish,” I told her. I could not bear another round of, “Oh! But you have not tired MY fish.” Then comes the inevitable, “But it doesn’t taste like fish,” or “It doesn’t smell fishy.” I don’t care. Really. And, pardon my rambling, why would it be better if it neither smelled nor tasted like fish? Why not just not have fish then? Would I be proud of my beef in the same way? No. I WANT my beef to both smell and taste like beef. So why would I want to eat something only if it doesn’t seem fully what it is.
I know, you fish lovers out there, I don’t understand. Fine. I accept that. But let us be absolutely clear: If my cow falls into the water before it is made into a burger I won’t eat it.
This is the story of the very last time I ate fish: In my second assignment a pleasant young couple moved to the neighborhood and asked me over for dinner and to bless their new house. We ate dinner in community at that assignment so I said that I couldn't come over for dinner but I would come over for desert and to bless the house. So on the appointed night, after eating dinner, I headed out. It was a dark rainy night. It was odd because it seemed like the rain was washing what little light there was out of the sky.
Then I turned down their street which was the darkest street on the that dark night. Their house was the darkest house on the darkest street on that darkest night. No kidding. In fact, I thought they may not be home. I found out why their house was so dark when I walked up to the door: all the windows were covered with plywood.
They were, in fact, home however and graciously invited me in. We sat in the living room which, besides the couch and a chair, was still largely boxes. After a few minutes of chatting it became apparent that they were making dinner and expecting me to eat (again) before the blessing. The lady of the house stood and proclaimed with much pride and joy that we were having some sort of rare and expensive thing out of the water that they would NEVER have on their own because it was so expensive. This was a treat for them (in treating me.)
To make a long story short (too late) we sat down to dinner and began to eat. I tried to take the TINIEST bit of the gourmet fish food and the scoop it up with as much rice as I could manage and eat. Then I would try to get by talking (thereby avoiding eating) but my hosts had impeccable manners and would stop eating if I stopped eating.
Finally I said, "OH! I am STUFFED!" "But Father," they said, "You barely ate your fish!" "Oh, you know," I replied, "I eat like a bird." (A bird that doesn't eat fish.)
So they packed up my meal to enjoy later. And I did come back to it later. Or rather it came back to me. All night long. Over and over again.
And thus is the story of the very last time I voluntarily at fish.