The other day I had a hankering for some catfish. Now, if I was back home I’d just get in the truck and drive down to Coldwater, Miss. — where they’ve been known to fry up some of the finest mud cats in Dixie.
There’s a little diner down there that’s been deep-frying catfish since before I was born. The restaurant isn’t all that much to look at, but they can sure cook up a mess of catfish — soaked in buttermilk, dredged in cornmeal batter, fried up all golden brown and served with a heaping side order of hushpuppies. Now that was some good eatin’!
In recent years, the diner has gone through some financial difficulties. My Uncle Jerry suggested they might want to consider sprucing up the place, shoot, maybe even get the waitresses to do some table dancing (the likes of which northern Mississippi has never seen). The owner thought it was a pretty good idea — but decided against it — what with all the extra insurance — and the fact he’d have to reinforce the tables. It seems some of the girls have sampled a few too many hushpuppies.
Like I was saying, I had the urge to eat some catfish the other day so I made my way up to Harlem, where they really know how to cook food. Unfortunately, catfish isn’t something they know how to cook.
The café I chose offered blackened catfish, broiled catfish and something billed as catfish nuggets. I know a lot about catfish — but I wasn’t sure if the nugget was made from the catfish or came out of the catfish. Either way, it wasn’t going in my mouth.
I come from a family that loves fishing. My grandfather was partial to brim and bass. When I was in grade school, he’d pick me up in the afternoon and we’d spend a few hours on Kermit Buck’s lake in Sardis, Miss. One day we had a rather stimulating conversation on the correct pronunciation of crappie (which also goes by the name speckled perch). Is it pronounced "crappy" or "croppy?" It’s a regional thing — but I’ll tell you this — there’s nothing worse than a crappy crappie.
All this to say, my Uncle Jerry called the other day to check up on my training for the big marathon. After running off a litany of my aches and pains, he offered me an honest assessment of my woes. "It’s time to either fish or cut bait."
Truer words were never spoken. I’ve been training for six months and it all comes down to this moment. For the record — I’m going fishing. It’s an exciting time for the Big Apple. Thousands of runners from all across the country are arriving to run the race of a lifetime. It’s truly an American experience — people of all shapes, sizes and colors working towards a common goal.
I’ve received hundreds of emails from folks across the country — in places like Fresno, Calif. and Hattiesburg, Miss. Soldiers on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan have written to me — along with runners who plan to be in New York City on Sunday. And along the race course, some two million people will be cheering us along — giving us that extra boost of confidence we’re going to need to make it across the finish line. Yes, there is something truly amazing about that. There is something truly American about that.
Now, let’s go fishing!
Coming Friday: 26.2 reasons why I am running the New York City Marathon.
Todd Starnes is a network news anchor at FOX News Radio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.