Posted by: The Amoeba | May 2, 2009

Pizza With Anchovies

I don’t recall what went on before, but it had to do, no, not with pleasure domes, but with aquaria. You know, the tanks you keep fish in?

I’m walking down a corridor with a man whose appearance and manner keeps changing, but is clearly some sort of acquaintance, and whose name is Mel. The corridor is full of the poundings and shufflings and squealings of construction and deconstruction. Something is being moved; Mel is telling me about it.

We enter a room that is being stripped. In recesses in the wall from which the panelling has been removed, there are four aquaria full of fish, ranging in size from about 20 to about 70 gallons. I am being asked for advice on how to move them. I give instructions, to some young people who hadn’t been there before, to begin with the two small freshwater tanks, leaving the two larger ones, that contain brackish-water and marine fish, for later.

Mel nets two of the freshwater fish – neon tetras – and puts them into a big tank. Neon tetras can’t take salt water, and immediately begin to gasp and struggle. In high-magnification, full-screen mode (real neon tetras are among the smallest fish in Nature, but the projection makes them look like salmon).

“You idiot, Mel, you can’t put those fish in there! Put them back!”

He does. One of the fish – we’re back in full-screen mode – begins to recover. It’s touch and go for the other one.

I don’t find out what happens, because Mel starts talking about one of the marine tanks, which has grown to picture-window size. He is complaining that most of the kinds of fish that he put in there have died or disappeared. The kind that remains, though – a shad-like fish with fluorescent-blue polka dots – is obviously thriving and breeding in the aquarium. I tell him this.

“Why don’t you tell everybody?”, Mel asks.

And suddenly the room is a small theatre full of people, and the tank has grown to full-wall, commercial-aquarium size. The tank has at least four kinds of creatures in it, not including the polka-dotted number. One of them is yellow and both looks and acts more like a seal than a fish.

And I know nothing about any of them.

I madly scramble through a pile of books and magazines on a table in front of the aquarium, looking for pictures and information on the animals in the tank. Most of the magazines are the kinds one would find in the average dentist’s office. I find a soft-cover volume that might have what I need. It has pages about six times as wide as they are tall, they flop conspicuously and uselessly in front of me. I can’t find what I’m looking for, and wouldn’t have time to read it if I did.

I start talking to the audience, making up something that sounds plausible. Only the people in the first three rows can hear me, because there’s no microphone and the room is noisy. One of the audience members stands to ask a question. I can’t hear him, none of the audience can hear him.

I wander around to the back of the hall, trying to find out if there’s a sound technician in the house. I finally find microphones and am ready to start my presentation over, but in the meantime a woman has gone to the front of the room and, working from the table that had held those useless books and magazines, has begun a children’s program. One that I am unwilling to interrupt.

Mel says, “I’ll interrupt her”. And I see him marching to the table while I’m making my way to the front of the room.

There is an ear-piercing squeal of anger and contempt. “You people had nothing prepared!” She stalks off.

Mel is about to leave the hall at the back when I speak up, audible myself for the first time.

“The woman has a point. A good point.” There is loud applause.

“And I am as much to blame as anyone.” More applause.

Mel turns back, comes to the center of the room. It is clear from his expression that any alliance between us is over, and I am now the enemy. “You’d better be ready for what’s coming to you”, he snarls. There is more, but he, and the whole scene, is dissolving. Until I am alone on an empty holodeck.

*          *          *          *          *

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember the old cartoon clichรฉ that eating pizza with anchovies before going to bed causes nightmares. For the record, I didn’t. I haven’t seen pizza with anchovies on a menu in years, and I doubt I’d order one if it were available.

I did have a bottle of porter with dinner, and told Quilly that it was fine, but that the good stuff would be called “portest”. You know: port, porter, portest?

Maybe that’s where this nightmare came from. Unless you have a better idea, dear reader.

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright ยฉ 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.



  1. Well, it depends. Are you anxious about the upcoming trip Quilly mentioned to me? Going to be asked to speak with some authority on some subject that you’re supposed to know about? Feel like you’re possibly grasping at answers that aren’t really within your realm of expertise and when you do come up with an answer, nobody’s listening anyway? Or maybe that you feel you’re not prepared for it and even if you were, it’s going to be like explaining something to a bunch of preschoolers?

    If not- it was the porter. ๐Ÿ™‚ If so, it was probably still the porter.

  2. I can’t believe I slept through a bedroom full of construction, fish tanks that changed sizes and a polka-dot seal. Next time, wake me!

  3. It was almost near the end I realized you were relating a Dream. I am kind of slow on the Uptake today. When I order a Pizza I make sure it doesn’t come with Anchovies.

    Liked the Port, Porter, Portest. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Wonderful Weekend wished for you and the Quillster.

  4. That you are Mel is clear. The question of whether the dream was psychological or gastronomical is of little importance.



  5. … sounds kinda fishy to me. who the heck drinks wine with pizza? peezzer is to be washed down with bee-ah or soder.

    anchovies make for the best pizza topping, too, btw.

  6. Lisa, you offer a choice between peeling layers off an onion without ever getting to the core, or blaming the porter. It was the porter. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I couldn’t offer you a photo op, Q, so I didn’t wake you. The yellow seal-fish were very camera-shy.

    I hope that doesn’t mean you have an acquaintance with shad-like fish covered in fluorescent blue polka dots, Bill. And neither you nor Cooper is allowed to ask about “butter”.

    Speaking of Cooper. Pizza with artichokes?

    But kitty, porter is beer, one shade lighter than Guinness Stout. Port is wine, fer sure. Maybe that makes portest Bombay Sapphire. And no, I’ll leave off the anchovies. They look too much like neon tetras. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. If you are ever in Iowa City, go by Pagliai’s for an anchovy pizza. Then, stay up til dawn, lest Mel visits again.

  8. Doug, I’ll send Mel to Iowa City instead, by your leave. In January, during a real cold snap. Maybe he’ll stop to lick a flagpole.

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