This morning I awoke from anxious dreams to discover that in my bed I had been changed into a monstrous verminous fish. Lying awkwardly on my back, I twisted a long flexible spine while trying to move legs that were fused into a greenish-gray tail. I could catch only glimpses of this speckled body for my eyes were strangely immobile, showing mainly side views. There amongst the pillows I spied a small feline sniffing the air happily while creeping toward me. When its rough sandpaper tongue licked the whisker-like projection now growing under my chin, I felt a surge of panic. Oh God. Is this how it is all going to end?
What was happening to me? I tried to cry out loud, but my thick oval mouth could only open and close, wordlessly. This was no dream; it was the result of a transformation that had, I finally realized, begun about four weeks earlier, when QMR radically changed my diet, replacing all of my bison with cod. Since then I had cooked 300 grams of cod every day, weighed 2,100 grams of cod every week, and consumed 8,400 grams of cod in a single month. At first, the alterations were minor. Everything smelled of fish—my kitchen, my coat, my purse, my hair. My locker at the gym was suffused with the not-so-subtle scent of poisson. Then my eyes became glassy, my skin shiny and scaly, my flesh tender, flaky, and white. The signs had all been there. Why did it take me so long to notice?
After all, I had quickly become obsessed by cod. I had searched for recipes to break the monotony of continual contact with the bottom dwelling morhua. In spite of the limited ingredients permitted by my diet, I created spicy fish balls, savoury fish cakes, soy-flavoured fish mash, lemon-ginger fish fillets. Yet I did not stop there. I began reading about the history of cod, a tragic tale involving gluttony, greed, exploitation, salt, onions, and butter. Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (1997), reprinted delightful French recipes dating from the fourteenth century: ‘prepared and cooked like a red mullet, with wine when cooking; eaten with Jance.’ What the fuck was Jance? I would scour the supermarkets for it, to no avail. Kurlansky delivered other fascinating information, noting that the low fat, high protein fish dried well and could be salted, enabling sailors to catch and store food for longer voyages. Cod played an important role in the development of both the international commodities market, and the insidious expansion of colonialism. And now it was playing an important role in my life. Not to mention in the life of Ogre.
Ogre is the cat with the world’s roughest tongue, named for her hatred of children. We are fostering her temporarily for a friend who recently gave birth to a cute, vulnerable baby. Unfortunately our own cat, Coco Divine, died suddenly in March while my partner was recovering from a serious surgery and I was suffering from strep throat. March sucked and April is not shaping up to be much better. Especially not for Ogre, who spends her time pining mightily for even a smidgeon of the tasty fish flesh whose scent surrounds her day and night. Whenever I am preparing or consuming cod (ie every ten minutes or so), Ogre paces and climbs, trying to get at me. Eventually I am forced to eat while standing in the middle of the room, away from all waist-high furniture. After a few weeks of this ritual we renamed Ogre with a moniker I think you will appreciate: Cod Blocker.
Cod Blocker is watching me this minute, as I write from the comfort of my bathtub, like a modern Marat. I have always loved water, and was known as ‘a little fish’ when young, despite my refusal to obey swimming instructors. Though I then failed to receive my Marlin badge, I bet I could earn it now. I can hold my breath under water for quite some time, and have no need for outdated forms of drown proofing. All the same, my partner is not impressed by my new fish body, though I had warned him that it would change during the diet. He even seems afraid of me, and when I approached him for ‘sexy time’ the other day, he responded with horror, defending himself with the apple on which he was snacking. As you can imagine, my fins are pretty useless, and the apple hit me squarely in the back, becoming lodged. I must find a way to remove it before it rots and costs me valuable points during my upcoming figure competition. I am only six weeks out! Please let me assure all steadfast supporters, including you devoted readers, that despite this minor gill-bearing aquatic setback I will continue to diet and train, and will remain positive by indulging in lifelong learning, starting with that Apple Cod Bake recipe I just found online.
Cod Blocker sinisterly scours for incoming cod