When I looked over at him, Chris was using his remaining tuna nigiri as a flesh drum pad, whacking it senseless with a pair of those disposable saliva-covered chopsticks, wasabi and soy sauce splattering around.
"What are you doing?" I asked, horrified.
"What do you mean?"
"Why can't you, you know, respect your tuna? Isn't it enough that it gave its life for you? Now you humiliate it by beating on it with a stick to 'Superstition?'"
Of course Chris and Eddy laugh uproariously at this, as would I, if I were them and not suddenly filled with sadness for the indignity of the whole ordeal.
"What if that fish used to be Jesus?" I ask.
"If Jesus were cut up into little sections like this, then I probably wouldn't recognize him."
"That's my point."
I get really emotional at inappropriate moments about inanimate objects. Cartoon drawings of dancing hot dogs have been known to make me break down in tears in the refrigerated section at the grocery store because I don't like that the hot dogs don't know that they look like idiots . One time, a fake fur pillow made me weep because it was just too soft for its own good. It goes without saying that scruffy stuffed animals abandoned on the side of the road send me into a def-con 2 meltdown.
So for some reason that last lonely piece of tuna, looking tired and ready to just be eaten, for god's sake, struck the mis-strung cat-gut stitches of my heart.
This all reminds me of that personality defining moment way back when I was married, and my husband wanted to make me something fancy for my 24th birthday dinner, so he brought home a big package of surf clams, a vehicle for butter that I had recently discovered. He cooked them and brought me a dish of drawn butter and a bowl of steaming yawning clams. As I shovelled them into my mouth, using their shells as spoons, he casually mentioned that it had taken them a long time to die.
I froze. Shell-scoop part way to my mouth, dripping into my lap.
"What do you mean, 'a long time to die?'" Like Tim Curry as Wadsworth in the movie Clue, asking the officer what he means by 'murder' after opening the door grinning like an idiot.
"You know, they open when they die in the boiling water. That's how you tell when they're done. They're alive when you put them in the pot." A look, a furrowed brow. "Angela? What's wrong?"
Tears are running down my face, mixing with the broth already in my lap, ruining my pants. I'm sobbing, yet still scooping up butter and slurping brainless clams into my mouth. My nose is starting to run. It's truly amazing how fast my face can melt into an unrecognizable Butoh mask.
"I didn't, I didn't know they were...ALIVE. Oh, God, that's horrible!" Still scooping, still chewing.
"If you're getting so upset, why are you still eating them?" He's reaching for the bowl, trying to remove the source of my pain. I won't let him.
"Because they're delicious!" I sob again, and sort of hiccup, and I wonder why he didn't just leave me then.
But at sushi now, Chris is so affected my my goofy statements that two veins in his forehead are throbbing in tandem with his heart.
"Are you upset, because you look like your head is going to pop."
And the tuna shares none of this hilarity. It goes on sitting there, slowly oozing into the rice, trying to become invisible.