I was born with a pretty wicked allergy to fish. My parents first discovered it at Disneyland when I was just a little kid; we were tossing chunks of fish to the dolphins and the juices ran down my hands and arms, causing redness and swelling, which earned me a hasty trip to the emergency room. “Oooh, look Mom! Flashing red lights and a siren! This is WAY better than Pirates of the Caribbean!”
Since then I’ve avoided fish as if my life depended on it, because… it kinda does. Salmon, halibut, cod, catfish, herring, anchovies, trout… all of them cause a rapid allergic reaction when they touch my skin — especially my lips or the inside of my mouth. And the sensation is truly unpleasant, like swelling, throbbing, burning, itching and aching all wrapped up into one perfect pain. Like it was designed specifically by God himself to punish me for being a naughty 8-year-old boy who should have known better than to burn all those tiny little ants with a magnifying glass.
But the real danger would be if I ever ingested enough fish to cause my entire body to freak out and my windpipe to swell shut. That’s called anaphylaxis, and I don’t know about you, but I think it sounds like just a barrel of laughs. Luckily, I could never really consume enough to cause such a reaction unless I decided to chug a glass of fish juice or swallow a fistful of fish oil capsules. And that wouldn’t be an accident at all; that would be suicide.
Oh sure, I’ve flirted with fish a few times over the years. You know, just to see if I was still allergic. Like, at a friend’s house, I once touched half a fish stick to my lip only to spend the remainder of the evening looking like a 5th grader with the world’s most aggressive case of oral herpes. And then one time, during a work meeting in the mid-2000s, my entire office went out to lunch at a Japanese restaurant. We all ordered miso soup, and I’d never had a problem with it in the past, but this time it was made with real fish broth. It tasted so good I drank that shit right from the bowl, and about one minute later, my upper lip swelled up and stuck out so far I looked like a Simpsons character.
To this day, I really don’t know what fish even tastes like — especially salmon. That stuff looks delicious, but it’s supposed to cause the most intense reaction of them all, so I leave that sexy bitch alone. The one kind of fish I can eat, however, is tuna.
I was about 25 years old when I discovered tuna didn’t mess with me. It happened by accident: One day, I thought I was holding a chicken salad sandwich, but when I bit down, it turned out to be tuna fish, and oh… my… CHRIST was it delicious! That weirdo tuna meat all mixed up with relish and mayonnaise? I was in heaven! It was like discovering a whole new set of taste buds! Crazy taste buds — and they were having a freaky bondage sex party right inside my mouth! And later I discovered I can even eat raw tuna, like at a sushi restaurant! (But if it bumps up against my wife’s sashimi salmon, the party’s over and I’m headed straight back to Fucksville.)
So I’ve been a pretty zealous tuna lover ever since. Wouldn’t you be, after avoiding a delicious type of food over two thirds of your life? Now, I make sure and buy at least three cans of tuna every time I go to the grocery store. It makes an awesome snack, especially if I’m in a hurry. That’s why, the other day when I sat down next to my German wife on the couch to start a movie, I confessed to her I’d just eaten an entire can in like 30 seconds. She laughed and said it’s weird that I can eat tuna but no other fish. Then she went on to speculate as to the reason, saying:
“Maybe tuna is not really a fish. Maybe it’s a water chicken.”