Why a Naked SunFish?
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by Jessy Kendall

brown once-leaf skudders shrill over pavement
i half run to get here
and i find three sweaters on chairs
and no one here

i will pull out the paper
i will pull out the paint
and make this day proper.

Strange Carma
“My karma ran over my dogma.” Anonymous
by Rick Brown

We bought it in 1991 … brand new. A Mazda Miata. The model was introduced in 1989 and my wife Yvonne and I finally got sick and tired of pushing … towing … repairing the two early 70’s MGBs we owned. I reassured our mechanic we’d have him work on our new Miata. He laughed and replied, “You guys buy a Miata and I’ll never see you again!” I did see him again … ran into him at a Joan Baez concert a couple years ago. Somehow I don’t think that’s what he was talking about.

Yvonne insisted on silver. I wasn’t about to argue. After all, this is as much a toy as it is an automobile. And that’s what we bought…silver with black interior. At first we took turns driving our cute little roadster. One week I drove it. The next it was her turn…which was okay except it’s one of those cars where, when adjusting the seat to fit the length of your legs you keep wishing there was a spot right IN BETWEEN the two that aren’t quite right. No … wait … too close … no wait … a little too far … now too close … now too far. This “every other Monday adjusting the seat” ritual may be why … even though the car is in her name … for all intents and purposes … it became my car.  Yvonne more than likely has a way different story concerning this. But I’m the one writing this … so take my word for it.

I’ve babied my Miata. It’s been garaged almost every day of its life. Okay … so I don’t wash it very often. The thing’s like 3 inches off the ground!!! Washing and drying off a car that low to the ground on a regular basis? Hell … I’d be in traction by now … might even be using a walker!!! If you think I’m kidding watch me get out of it sometime.

Soon after buying our car I began to think it was jinxed. Within the first four months I had been hit TWICE. And not by just anybody either but by two UNINSURED motorists! How’s that for luck? The second accident was the worst. I was sideswiped by a drunken crack head chick that left the scene when I went to call the cops. And the saddest part of the whole thing was she had a baby with her … a tiny baby in a baby carrier. After the police arrived and I described her … well … they knew exactly who I was talking about. “Oh yeah, she lives with her ex-con boyfriend around here somewhere.” Great … just great. To make a long sordid tale short, the first guy who hit me at least got his wages garnisheed. The crack head chick and her ex-con boyfriend skipped town.

Fortunately for me, Yvonne and the Miata … my luck changed immediately. I have yet to be in another wreck. Fourteen years without a mishap involving another driver be they insure or not. So when I had the car washed and detailed early this past summer and noticed a small spot of rust by the driver’s side door, I thought, “surface rust”. Why wouldn’t I? Garaged every day … no accidents … no dents … the car has been the most dependable thing I’ve ever driven. With this optimism I took it to a reputable body shop for an estimate. I’m thinking … 800 bucks … maybe a thousand.

A young guy came out and introduced himself as Rob. I told Rob about the surface rust by the driver’s door. He shook his head.

“I hope you’re right sir. But you know … rust can be a cancer.”

Cancer?” I replied … thinking he was being overly melodramatic.

“Yeah. Cancer. Your car might LOOK clean. But underneath … where you can’t see … well … it can be like cancer” he intoned as he helped visualize by moving his hands over the car’s surface.

Wow. My mind raced back to an old Neil Young album, “Rust Never Sleeps”. His title came from a marketing campaign. Some of the guys who later formed Devo had worked for a marketing company and that’s the slogan they came up with for a body shop. But that seemed friendly compared with, “Hey buddy. Sit down. I gotta tell ya something. I’m afraid your car … has … cancer. Pretty far along too I’m afraid.” And ya know what? That ended up being Rob’s diagnosis.

 “Mr. Brown.”

“Yes, Rob?”

“It’s cancer. Spread up here in the front quarter panel … not to mention some of the back quarter panel. Bad.”

When he brought out the written estimate it was more than twice the figure I’d imagined. Life is like that … more often than not. Yvonne and I talked it over … thought about how nice it is without a car payment … and decided to have Surgeon Rob take care of our baby.

I called and we set a date.

“How long will it be before she’s done?” I inquired before saying goodbye to my ride.

“Can’t be sure … until we get in there. Don’t know how bad it is yet.” Rob said solemnly.

I thought, “Wow … cancer.”

About a week goes by and both of us naively think maybe our Miata is almost finished … the paint is drying right now. Then I get a call at work … from Rob.


John Bennett

Help Earthquake Relief Efforts

Cat: 1993 - 2005
by Ted Kane

It was on a miserably cold and icy day in the first week of 1994 that I picked out the most wonderful eight-week old puppy you could ever imagine. Well, that's not quite right. Actually, it's probably more accurate to say that the dog I would call Cat chose me than the other way around.

red blues

the red sun slipping beneath the concrete buildings
the still clear sky turning a deep night blue
and then a sliver of moon illuminated in the darkness
i sit upon the front hood of my little red car
empty of thought, picking at my blue chucks

A. Jive Turske

Blank Sight
by John Bennett

City Hall
by David Hochman

Episode 1, Scene 4


(TAKING OUT A SACHE OF CURRY FROM HIS UNIFORM POCKET AND POURING IT OVER HIS DISH) You know, when we’re retired we should open up a restaurant together. Chinese-Indian cuisine. Two of the world’s oldest and most sophisticated cuisines. Together--you never see that.

Sounds good. But why wait? This job gives me sleepless nights. Enforcing the law is a thankless job. And it’s non-stop. Sometimes I feel like everyone’s a criminal. That’s the premise I start from, that everyone’s a criminal until proven innocent and even then…I look at my wife and kids and I think, they’re probably stealing from me. I’m thinking of having them tailed. You know what I mean? Is that normal? I’m tired of it.

New Orleans, I Love You
by Cory Tressler
The phone rang on a muggy orange glowing August Columbus summer day. I picked up the receiver, having no idea what the ramifications of the conversation would be. My former and future college roommate, who was stuck inside Toledo for the summer, was on the line with a plan for a voyage to fun. For some time before this my friends had gotten me interested in a rock and roll outfit from Athens, Georgia called Widespread Panic. Now this particular rock and roll band had a habit of playing some kick ass good time shows on Halloween. My friend informed me that the band was planning on playing Halloween in New Orleans and he was mail ordering four tickets and I was going. Rock!

Wild Chicago
by Patrick OMalley

Of Pilgrimages, Epiphanies, and Tequila
Of Conch Fritters, Fish Dip, and Red Stripe
(Neither Necessarily in That Order)

by Rick Brown

Due to circumstances beyond our control, Dan and I took our annual trip to the Florida Keys in September this year. I mean…what better idea to make the excursion more intriguing than going during hurricane season…right after Katrina, the country’s biggest natural disaster…and just hours before Hurricane Rita? At first I did feel a little uneasy about traveling down there after Katrina’s devastation. But the local economy thrives on tourism…at least that’s how I rationalized it. And this year we only had three nights. So we planned only to stay on Key Largo and forgo the drive to Key West. This would give us more time to relax…or evacuate. And it was a good thing too. There were some 30,000 or so bikers in Key West for the weekend.

Andy Capps - 1979
Coming of Age
by Rick Brown

 I suppose there are a few perks to being the oldest of four. But for the most part…and I’ve surveyed others who are the first born and have siblings close in age…as the oldest, your mom and dad are honing their parenting skills on you! I had to live up to a higher standard most times than my younger brothers and sister. And the fact that my mother had all four of us in fewer than six years just amplified this reality for me. It certainly seemed to me that I had to be the best behaved (We’d expect that of Jimmy and Donny…but you?),and that I had to be the most patient (You’ll have to wait until you’re 12 before you can ride your bike on the street.). I got used to the behaving thing (I made up for it later in high school!) but the waiting. As the oldest I’d wait…try my best to be patient…and as soon as I was allowed to do something…well…that’s when the parental units CAVED!! All of a sudden all four of us could do it…even though I waited the longest. But hey…it’s not like I carry this around with me. It’s not like I’M STILL REALLY, REALLY PISSED OFF ABOUT IT OR SOMETHING!!!!!!


Like I said earlier…there were a couple perks being the oldest. The best was when I was say 9 or 10 years of age. I got to stay up a little bit later than my brothers and sister could. And since my mother got up at 5 a.m. (or so it seemed) she went to bed many times before I did. So that left me with my dad…just the two of us in our own tiny black and white T.V. watching world. Now if there were two things in this life my father adored, it was watching television…and eating. He was fairly indiscriminate about both really. Yet this private time with my father has grown to be perhaps my fondest memory of him…those two years or so that it existed. It felt special then as it does to this day.

Our favorite T.V. show to watch together was The Red Skelton Show. Freddie the Freeloader, George Appleby, Gertrude and Heathcliff…it was all good. And while we were a poor, working class family it seemed to me that nothing tasted better while watching Red with my dad than say…saltine crackers with peanut butter and jelly on them. Or a fried bologna sandwich. But the best of the best was SARDINES!!! My father first introduced me to the canned delights packed in oil…on white bread…Wonder or Millbrook… either brand was the soft, pliant gooey white bread with no air holes. (Like air holes taste bad right?)

My father ritualized sardine sandwich nights. I would follow him out to the kitchen where he pulled the key off the bottom of the sardine can…cranked the can open…and drizzled out the excess oil. Then he would pull each little fish out…cut the tail off…slice it down its belly…and remove what he called “the guts”. He meticulously carved each sardine this way while I stood at his side watching. This became a ritual…our ritual. And except for the nights when the key broke and it took almost running the car over the can to get to the sardines…I loved our ritual.

Later, my father introduced me to sardines packed in mustard.  YELLOW mustard!! A lot of people…even back in the late 50’s…turned their noses up at sardines…especially those floating in yellow MUSTARD!!! Consuming sardines packed in mustard was like thumbing our noses at those uppity folks, At least my dad made me feel that way…that somehow we were rebels watching television and eating sardine sandwiches. To hell with those who put down T.V.!!! In your face anti-sardine snobs!!! HA! HA! These are the ones packed in MUSTARD!!! While he never verbalized this…it’s what I took away from the experience.

One evening…close to the end of our special time alone…right before my brothers were invited to join the T.V. snack club…we went to the kitchen together for the sardine sandwich ritual…during a commercial break in Red Skelton of course.

Ahhh!! Here are some packed in MUSTARD!!” I remember him joyously proclaiming.  And as always he carefully pulled the key from the bottom of the can…wound open the top revealing the little treasures lying in yellow mustard . He cut off the tail of the first fish and placed it on a slice of white bread with no air holes. He took a second fish…cut off the tail and laid it on the bread next to the first. And after he broke tradition for the third time I was confused.



“Aren’t you going to take out the guts?” I reverently inquired.

My father looked down at me…grinned…and said earnestly, “Ricky…I think you’re big enough now to…eat the guts!!”

Forget the fact that he was probably getting sick of cutting tiny fish down the middle and removing “the guts”. Maybe it got to be a chore for him. There are times when the reality of something is beside the point.

All I know is that at the age of maybe 10 years old…upon hearing my father announce that I was now big enough to eat sardine guts…I stood there…looking up at him thinking, “Wow…I’m BIG enough to eat the guts!! With my dad…just us two.”

We carried our plates into the living room where Mr. Skelton was waiting for us. My dad and I devoured our sardine sandwiches…on gooey white bread…with YELLOW MUSTARD…with“the guts”.

And I felt proud.

Our Top 5 Picksby Ted Kaneby John Bennettby Cory Tressler by Patrick O'Malley by David HochmanTravel SectionRecipes and MoreBack Issues

© 2001-2005 NakedSunfish, All Rights Reserved

Issue 1 - January 2002