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Southern Oregon Journal: Any way the fish flops

They arrived from Amazon the other day complete with instructions, two USB cables and two packets of catnip. A pair of electronic moving-fish cat toys came packaged along with my Italian soft wheat flour, one having nothing to do with the other.

The toys cost only three fins, and I’d watched the tutorial video on the sale page, so I felt confident I could get these guys flopping in no time. Soon, Edward the cat would be delighted and preoccupied. The notion that he doesn’t get to run and frolic in the traffic anymore, or roll euphorically in other cats’ scents, or leave his own markers, would be eclipsed.

My effort was to cause the pain of going from an outdoor vagabond to an indoor lie-about to be less keenly felt. Royals of old were able to manage nicely, so I felt that the king would come around in time and recognize the advantage of his station. These faux fish would be instrumental.

While he napped, I put the plan in play by extracting the electronic gizmo from the fish husk. I inserted the cable in the port and plugged the other end into my phone charger. All went according to the video and printed instructions. Much flopping fun lie ahead.

I inserted the catnip packet into the fish’s belly to ratchet up the ecstasy factor. I tapped the fish and, voila, it worked. As I watched the movement, it reminded me of someone. Yes, it was Big Mouth Billy Bass, the singing piscatorial party animal of the early 2000s. The movements were similar except this smaller, unmounted version did not share Billy’s vocal ability, managing a sort of mechanical hum instead.

I started reminiscing about old Billy, though, and getting a little misty. We had bought one for my former husband many moons ago. I couldn’t help wondering if you could still find the mounted marvel crooning out his beloved, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” tune. I quickly checked Amazon and, sure enough. For a mere $45 you could have one of your very own. Some had Santa hats. But I noticed a few of the reviews were less than flattering. Here is what some folks took time to say, parenthetical comments are my own:

Jimmerz 48 shared this, “The Music is Fine. Both Songs are Clear." BUT "Billy's MOUTH Barely MOVES & HIS Head DOES NOT TURN" (He’s singing while mounted, for Pete’s sake. Plus, this person could use my editing services.)

Rick added, “The only thing that was an issue was that the sound was too loud for the room I was in, (Porta Potty, perhaps?) and I had to try to soften it. I put tape on the back to cover the speakers and that did the trick.”

Lon is disgusted. “Disgraceful. The product looks as though it had been displayed in a bar for years. (tell-tale dart holes? Billy Bob teeth?) Battery compartment broken. Tape holding it together in places.” (Sounds like this Billy Bass put up a fight.)

Terri is pleased. “Mine sings Elvis, "I can't help falling in love with you" and "All shook up". (What, no “Rubberneckin’?”)

Now, back to the kitty distractor. They do resemble real fish, since the manufacturer uses computer graphics to imprint material with pictures of fish. I believe they are carp — one dark and one gold. However, I wasn’t at all sure that Eddie had ever seen a real fish. I mean, just because he helps me with my salmon doesn’t indicate he has any idea what they look like before the skillet.

I cast it toward him and he ran off. But it flopped on cue, so he cautiously returned. When the flopping stopped, he patted it gingerly in case it might turn on him, and movement resumed. He mouthed it. Cats aren’t stupid. One mouthful of fabricated fish and he knew this thing wasn’t worth fighting. So, Charlie Carp lies in the hallway waiting to be moved. ‘Twas ever thus.

Soon, he will join the cadre of other toys in the basket that were “sure to delight my kitty.”

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer and author of “Trips & Tangents” and “Stone Revival.” Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.