This was first posted in November of 2004.
I suppose I’ve been stood up a time or two in my life, but never for such a reason as this.
Every Friday, I and a couple of other folks get together at lunchtime to play recorder music. (If you don’t know what a recorder is, go here.) There used to be four of us, and then Mo decided to move up to the Bay Area. (Shame on her!) Every once in a while, though, she comes down to Los Angeles, and when she does she tries to join us on Friday so that we can play quartets. And she was supposed to come last Friday.
So last Friday morning, I get a call from Mo. She’s not going to make it. She’s still in town, but she’s about to leave; she has to get home before it gets dark. And why? She says, “I have to give a koi an injection. (If you don’t know what a koi is, go here. Oh what marvels there are in this bright world!) I haven’t heard anything so exotic in daily conversation since a co-worker casually said, “I was at this hookah lounge in the Egyptian section of Bangkok…” I stopped him right there, just to marvel. (So happens, we were sitting in a sidewalk cafe in Canberra at the time.) But I digress.
Apparently she’s got a sick koi, and although usually when the koi is sick you can give it medicine in its food, this time the koi needs an injection, and her husband can’t do it alone—it takes two people.
Now, I don’t want to minimize the fish’s illness. And no doubt the fish has great sentimental value for Mo. Koi live a long time; perhaps she raised it from a tiny goldfish. Perhaps it is, in fact, a family heirloom koi, a prize potato-fed koi from a line of champions raised in the peat-bogs of the Emerald Isle and handed down through the generations like a batch of sour-dough starter. Or perhaps Mo simply paid an arm-and-a-leg for it. I don’t know. But one thing is clear.
I’ve been stood up for a fish.