Last June, I hallucinated theherring on Missouri’s vast emptygreen horizon.Did you know that Columbia,Missouri is almost as far from St.Louis as it is from Kansas City?Drivers there still know that theyshould cruise on the right andpass on the left. It is a conventionthat’s a relic of simpler times.Did you know that if you stare atan unfamiliar landscape longenough, you’ll see pickledherring?At least I do.
The 5 th of November (aka Guy FawkesDay) and The Day the Music Died haveNOTHING on the 13 th of September,2012.That’s the day the herring wentmissing.I canvassed the refrigerator. Couldsomeone have stashed the jar in thevegetable crisper? Perhaps the herringwas nestled among the elderlycondiments or behind the wiltedcelery.The American cheese singles lingered.The half-consumed bottle of Tejavatea—still there. But the pickled herringwas gone.Wasn’t there a bestselling novel, GoneFish?
Or perhaps it’s a business book cliché:Who moved my herring?Technically, it’s not my herring, but Idoubt Ulfar cares about the herringanymore. He has no doubt beencorrupted by Google’s 25 cafeterias.Between you and me, Google is justtrying fatten up its employees sothey’re trapped in their cubicles like somany high-tech veal calves. But perhapsI’m just jealous. After all, SOMEONETOOK MY HERRING. Maybe it’s now onoffer on one of Google’s sushi stations.Maybe it’s hanging out on the wheatgrass juice cart in a Google lobby.Don’t it always seem to go/that youdon’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’sgone./Take Pickled Herring, put up aparking lot.—Joni Mitchell
It didn’t take long for me to realizethat there was only one good way toavenge the herring’s untimely andmysterious disappearance:REPLACEMENT HERRING.A herring surrogate, so to speak.Haig’s in the Richmond had just whatI wanted.Look at the crystal-clear herring juice!I bought the jar on the 29 th ofSeptember, more than two weeksafter the herring-nap, and put it in myhome refrigerator to prepare forrepatriation.Cathy Marshall, Herring Avenger. Ipicture myself with a purple cape. I’mprobably too old for the leotard andtights, but I can wear a cape likenobody’s business.
The refrigerator at work was barren.Nothing had survived the GreatSeptember Purge except the KraftAmerican Cheese Singles and thestale coffee beans.From a historical perspective, I’m surefingers will be pointed, blameassigned, and a cloud of regret willdescend on the kitchenette.Who could’ve done this? Whatmonster swept through ourrefrigerator? Did he or she invoke aphantom health department? Or wasthis atrocity committed in the nameof boredom and OCD? Weresomeone’s meds miscalibrated?We will never forget!
To test the waters (so to speak), onOctober 10 th , I taped a picture ofthe new pickled herring into theproper corner of the refrigerator atwork.No reaction. Nothing.I found the bottle of iced tea (whichmay have had as lengthy a tenancyas the original herring, or OH) andreplaced it on the top shelf. Now thetableau was complete.I don’t need to tell you, it turned outto be a wildly successfulexperiment. No-one said A THING.I began to feel confident thatrepatriation could begin.
1 November 2012: The newPickled Herring is ensconcedin the corner of therefrigerator’s top shelf, whereit belongs.I left the photo in place, as amemorial to OH.Coffee beans, Tejava tea (offcamera), and Kraft AmericanCheese Food Singles stand atattention.I was tearful, but composed.It’s a wonderful day for us all.
PostscriptI’m sure we’re all ready for a‘happily ever after’ ending forthe herring saga.Not only did 2012 close on asuccessfully reintroducedPickled Herring, but check outthe new fish in town...Pickled Herring, meet INSTANTNATURAL JELLYFISH.Popular taste!Same great package!Thumbs up!See you in 2013.