Be careful what you fish for
One: OK, I'll give it to you straight. I have a sugar thing.
Two: A thing?
One: Well, yes.
Two: What kind of thing?
One: A can't-live-without-it-often-think-about-it thing. A crave-it-day-and-night-love-it-with-all-my-might thing.
Two: You mean you're addicted? To sugar?
One: Um, well … um, ah, um … yep, I guess.
Two: Well, at least you're not going to get arrested or go bankrupt over it. Have you, um, tried to stop?
One; Ah, stop? Well, no, not exactly. I hate artificial sweeteners. When I stop it never lasts more than, oh … three minutes. I might've gone five once.
Two: So, why are you telling me about this?
One: Oh, I don't know. I guess I just thought, um, you'd want to know. About my sugar thing.
Two: I see. Well, I'm glad you told me.
One: Er, yes. Well, you see, it's because … because … well …
Two: What? It's because what?
One: Um, because of the, er, the fish.
Two: The fish?
One: Yes. That's right. And already I feel better because I told you.
Two: You do? Good; I'm so glad. Um, what … ?
One: What what?
Two: What are you talking about?
One: The fish!
Two: Ah, yes, um, the fish. What about the fish?
One: Red fish. They swim in my dreams.
Two: Oh! You see red fish swimming in your dreams?
One: I just told you so, didn't I? Yes, red fish swim in my dreams. Red. Fish.
Two: Do the fish frighten you?
One: Frighten? No, not exactly. It's just that I'm afraid it will run, run, run away with me, have fun, fun, fun all day with me.
One: Sorry about that. It's the fish. They make me do it.
Two: Excuse me? What fish? What do they do?
One: Haven't I just been telling you? Are you listening to me at all?
Two: Sorry! Only, you're not making a lot of sense, you know. Tell me again. I'll listen very carefully, I promise.
One: (Sighs) Oh, all right. A few months ago, I bought a bag of Swedish fish from the vending machine across the hall from my office. You know, the gummy red things in the shape of mackerel or whatever?
Two: Yes, I know what you mean. Go on.
One: So I got this bag of Swedish fish. I hadn't had any in forever — used to like them as a kid, but it'd been years, decades, probably. They were pretty good: nice and chewy, raspberry flavored. I liked them so much I spiked them — oops — they're doing it again! I got another bag the next day, and pretty soon I was eating a bag of Swedish fish every day at work.
Two: Probably more red dye than is good for you, but I can think of worse things to do.
One: Hold on. After a couple of weeks, I started craving Swedish fish on the weekend, too. I bought them in the grocery store when I was doing the weekly shopping. I just couldn't get enough, really had to stuff myself with them — oh, not again!
Before long, I was thinking about Swedish fish whenever I wasn't eating them. I was consuming shoals of Swedish fish every week. That was when I started dreaming about them. Lines of Swedish fish standing on their tail fins doing the Conga; schools of Swedish fish swimming past the periscope of my submarine. They would chant, “Swedish fish are really fine, always make you speak in rhyme” and “Lovely, lovely Swedish fish, sweet, enchanting rhyming dish” and “Swedish fish good every time; you never can avoid the rhyme!”
I'd wake up in a cold sweat, visions of dancing, rhyming Swedish fish still swimming before my eyes, and I'd lie there shaking, afraid to go back to sleep.
Two: Good heavens! What did you do?
One: That's just it. I'm powerless to stop. I've tried to switch to chocolate, to pot, to cocaine. But I just keep craving those damned red Swedish fish! And the more of them I eat, the more I talk like I'm on a poet beat, can't help but tap my feet, even when I'm in my seat. I try to be messy, but I'm naturally neat. Arrgh!
Two: I have an idea. It may not work, but I think it's worth a try. Sit down and let me explain.
* * *
(Some time later)
Two: Oh, hi. How are you doing? Did you try my idea?
One: Yes, yes I did. Thank you.
Two: Did it help?
One: Yep. It helped a lot. Now as soon as I start to croon, June, spoon, moon, salt! I just use your idea and I'm all set, pet, bet, cheese! Sometimes, I only get out, spout, gong! a couple of rhymes before I can say something that doesn't rhyme to shut it off.
And I'm slowly getting off the Swedish fish; the fewer of them I eat, the fewer I seem to want. Or maybe it's rhyming less, chiming mess, big stick! that makes me crave them less.
Anyway, I'm very grateful for your help. I have hope now that one day Svensk fisk will be just an unsettling memory.
Here, Pop, may I purvey to you a pleasing purple Peep?