Big Billy – Somethin’ fishy goin’ on

Minnie’s right famous for her fish chowder. Every year she makes a great big feed of fish chowder and we have it pretty much all day the Sunday Christmas Daddies is on.

Now, of course, Christmas is over two months away, so imagine my surprise last Big BIllyTuesday when I walked in the door and the house was filled with the smell of fish chowder. I swear, as soon as I smelled that chowder it felt like I shoulda been sittin’ in my chair in front of the TV, singin’ along to the Barra MacNeils, waitin’ for our name and “$5” to pop up, and tryin’ to calm Minnie down. That year Cass Winthrop from Another World was on, she just about went mental.

Anyways, Minnie musta seen me standin’ at the door, takin’ in these big sniffs becuae before I could even ask her what was happenin’ she said – I’m tryin’ out a new fish chowder recipe.

Right on, Durango, I said, gettin’ myself a bowl from the cupboard.

I didn’t want to wait until Christmas Daddies to try it in case the new recipe don’t turn out. I figured we’d just have it for supper to try it out, she said.

You got ‘er, Pontiac, I said, but it was in one ear and out the other, because by then I was shovelin’ the boilin’ hot chowder down my gullet.

She made a great big pot of it, but as it turns out, after she got it all ready, I was the only one who’d eat any of it.

No, she said, takin’ a little taste of it on the end of a spoon. It comes out too salty this way, and I don’t like the amount of cream it calls for, and I like the haddock in bigger pieces – and on she went, listin’ all these things she didn’t like about it.

And of course, the kids don’t really like it on a good day, so there I was with pretty much a giant pot of fish chowder all for myself.

I ate it every night that week, then twice on Saturday (once for supper and then again watchin’ the hockey game). I kept eatin’ it right into this week, and I even had it for breakfast one day there.

Ugghh, Minnie said, stickin’ her tongue out like she was sick. You’re not still eatin’ that chowder are ya?

Why not? I said.

Well for one thing, it’s a week and a half old and that stuff don’t keep forever, she said.

G’waaaay, I said to her. But just between you and me, at this point I kinda had my suspicions about it myself. It had kind of a sour milk smell to it a little bit, but the thing was, as soon as I heated it up, all I could smell was fish again, so I figured it must still be good.

The next day Minnie’s in a mad dash to clean the house.

What’s goin’ on? I says.

Brad and Betty are comin’ over with the baby, so I want to make sure the place is spic and span, she says.

You might remember my cousin Brad got married to Minnie’s sister Betty after we set the two of them up a few years ago (he looks like a walrus and she looks like a giraffe). Anyways, they had their first baby a couple of months ago now. They named him Edmund, which kind of sounds like he’s the King of England, and I guess that makes sense since that’s how they treat him.

Minnie stopped in over their place to see the little fella a few times since he was born, but they wouldn’t take him out visitin’ anybody because they’re right mental about not makin’ the baby sick. They carry around these anti-bacteria wipes with them everywheres they go, and they’re forever wipin’ things down before the baby can touch them. They took so long to visit our place because our daughter Rosie had a cold there a few weeks ago, and even after she as over it, they gave it another few weeks just to be safe.

So, Minnie says, finally his royal highness is gonna grace our home with his presence. So make sure you wash your hands before they get here, and cover your mouth if you cough, for cripessake.

Imagine! I said. Under germ watch in my own house!

She just shot me the evil eye and went in the front room to vaccuum. I saw my chance and went straight for the last of the fish chowder. If Minnie was still in the room, there’s no way she woulda let me eat it when she got a whiff of it. But I guess I was figurin’ even if it’s not a hundred percent good, this is the last of it anyway. So I heated it up in the microwave and then spooned the whole thing into my mouth as fast as I could. Holy cripes, it was some rank by then.

Almost as soon as I put the bowl in the sink I knew somethin’ wasn’t right. There was this growl from my guts like there was a werewolf in there.

Before I knew it, Brad and Betty were comin’ in the back door with the baby and Minnie ran out to meet them and make a big fuss. I was doubled over at the sink clutchin’ my belly but I decided the best thing to do was pretend everything was fine.

I took two steps toward Betty, who was holdin’ the baby, and as soon as I opened my mouth to talk to them, Minnie’s fish chowder made a repeat appearance all over the floor, Betty’s right leg, and one of poor little Edmund’s booties.

Germs! Betty screamed.

You ate the last of the chowder, didn’t you?! Minnie yelled, but I think by then that was pretty obvious.

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