More Catfish Festival Memories

21 Jul

I'll confiscate that damned Iphone if I see you messing around with it in the middle of my story.

Greetings, Fellow Catfish Enthusiasts,

At this most special time of year, when the Denver Catfish Festival is closing in fast, my eyes tend to cloud up a bit and gaze longingly  back to the simpler time in Festival history, back to those heartwarming days of the Shreveport Catfish Festival and the magical memories they created. 

(Note: We’ve been testing the new Bayou Fryer 700-701 Death Star for about a week now, and are proud to report that it is a marvel of modern frying engineering; however, I must admit that this update might be brief, as it is quite difficult to type with my fingers as swollen as they are from ingesting all of the delightful fryable objects we’ve procured over these last few wonderful days.)

I lay awake on the wooden floor of our room, my cousins and siblings filling the damp air with light snores and long, deep breaths.  The still, pre-dawn humidity dangled the heavy scent of the back yard’s catfish entrails just above my nostrils; I tried to be still, to sleep, but only shuddered with excitement.  Today was the big day: I was going to drop the first catfish into the oil at 1:12 PM, as was tradition. 

Aunt Harriet's '74 Citroen. Perfect for housing blind feral rabid cats, but impossible to get parts for.

This was my passage into manhood: two days earlier I’d been thrown shirtless into Aunt Harriet’s ’74 Citroen Wagon with two blind, rabid feral cats and had to fight my way out in order to earn the honor of starting the Festival.  The multiple abrasions were still fresh and tenderly painful, but nothing fixed up wounds like Momma’s nutria rat and turpentine gauze wraps.

Suddenly, a rustling from the backyard.  I popped my head up and squinted through the open window.  I knew what it was before I saw it: possums in the catfish bucket (it was tradition to let the catfish sit out on Catfish Festival Eve to bring good luck to the family.)  I jumped out of bed and limped to my trusty badminton racquet then out the door. 

Uncle Wap, who was supposed to have been on guard duty, had fallen out of his hammock and was face-down snoring, empty fifth of Dr. Tichenor’s by his side.  Two possums were tugging at his right pocket with their teeth; they instinctively knew that this was where he kept his Skoal Oreos.  Four more of the little thiefs were hunkered down in the catfish bucket eating the fine, delicious catch two at a time. 

I swung my trusty racquet downward time and time again on the possums, but I was far too late.  They’d eaten Uncle Wap’s complete haul of Caddo Lake catfish.  As the summer sun rose over the family plot, I sat despondent in a haze of flies as we salvaged what we could and, being the industrious folks we were, made lemons out of lemonade.  Or in this case, possum out of catfish. 

It was too late to change the shirts, cups, and beer coozies, but we didn’t care.  It was the first and last Shreveport Possum Festival ever.  It was also the day that I became a man.

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