A Fish Pillow Story


A sport fisherman is born

Big Fish was a permanent fixture in my fifth grade classroom. My overstuffed Large Mouth Bass pillow comforted the insecure, wrestled with the rambunctious, and teased the shy into an uninhibited smile. When I squeezed Big Fish into my suitcase, Ron commented, “That’s the craziest thing to take to Nicaragua. What are we going to do with a big fish pillow?” I whispered, and let out a sigh (kind of exasperated with the twenty questions for every item I packed), “You’ll see.”  There was no way that I was going to tell him that I thought Big Fish was magical. He already thought I lost it when I bought an overstuffed Sunfish pillow to go with Big Fish to Nicaragua.

A few months later, my fish pillows had worked their magic throughout our tiny community. Big Fish wrestled with Isaac, our rambunctious three-year old neighbor. The pillows were a comforting poof of fabric for little bottoms settled into coloring and reading on our hard tiled floors. And after the kids tired of coloring, reading, and wrestling, the fish pillows transformed into…well, pillows…for sleepy heads, after exploring all the novelties in a gringo house.

Big Fish was well-known in my classroom to comfort the insecure and tease the shy into an uninhibited smile. When the Nica teenagers and young adults would come over to our house, they would usually gravitate to Big Fish, place him on their laps, and get into a cuddling frenzy with my pillow. When I offered to start a Facebook page for Luvis and Fabiola, I told them, ” I need to take a picture for your profile on Facebook.”

Luvis and Big Fish

It’s important to know that I helped Luvis and Fabiola join Facebook on two separate days. Neither girl knew one another, nor saw each others pose for the profile picture. Luvis grabbed Big Fish to include in her profile picture. A few days later, Big Fish joined Fabiola on Facebook. Take a look. I challenge you to tell me that Big Fish isn’t magical.

Fabiola and Big Fish

Fishing defines our small island. It sustains the people and nourishes their minds and bodies. The islanders use large nets called reds. Strong calloused hands and arms throw out the reds and haul in the catch every day of the year. A fishing pole is a novelty on the island. Ron may have the only pole on the island, and this oddity intrigues the fishermen, as well as confuses them. They wonder why anyone would only want to catch one fish. It really freaks them out when they see Ron throw the fish back into the lake. Fishing for sport is an unheard of concept.

When Guillermo, our head construction worker, spied Ron’s fishing pole, he asked if he could try it out. He attempted to cast repeatedly, with no release because he never hooked into one fish. Ron didn’t want Guillermo to be disappointed or frustrated with the new sport of fishing with a pole, so he grabbed Big Fish and Sunfish. He posed Guillermo with his fishing pole and the overstuffed fish pillows, and a sport fisherman was born!

I’ve shopped at the enormous Bass ProShop, since I returned to the states for a few weeks. I have a new overstuffed pillow to take back to Nicaragua. This time, it’s a crocodile. Since my fish pillows are such a big hit, there’s no telling what a crocodile will do! I suspect my croc will be therapeutic for the little kids because Isaac developed a fear of swimming in the lake. He overheard a fisherman say he spotted a four ft. croc nearby, and I’m sure it didn’t help matters when he watched “Jaws”.

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