All about that bass

bass clef

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

He didn’t go fishing often. He lived near a lake, so that wasn’t the issue. He owned a fishing pole, so that wasn’t it either. He just realized that when grandpa took the kids fishing, he could watch old movies and no one would bother him. So he didn’t go fishing often.

One day, the kids asked, “Dad, would you come fishing with us?” He thought about “High Noon” on the old movie channel. He thought about his children resenting him. He went fishing.

And, wouldn’t you know it, he was the only one to catch a fish that day! Ha ha, kids! That’s how it’s done.

It was a bass, not very big. The fish swallowed the hook. After a bloody struggle, the hook was removed and he threw back the injured fish. Would it survive? Who knows.

A week later, long after forgetting all about it, he was mowing the lawn down by the path that goes to the lake. He saw something peeking out of the water. It was a bass. He’d never seen a fish just looking at him like that, so he cut the engine and looked back.

“Hey, fish.” he said.

“Hey,” the fish replied. “Remember me?”

He was very surprised. “You can talk?”

“Yeah, but do you remember me? From last Sunday? You know, the hook.”

“That was you?”

“Yeah, that was me. Why do you think I’m here talking to you?”

“Um,” he paused. When you stop and think, this was a pretty monumental occasion. “I’m … sorry?”

“Oh, man. Don’t even bother. That wasn’t even a declarative sentence much less an apology. No, that’s not why I’m here. I’m really hoping you can, you know, finish the job.”

“Finish the …. you want me to kill you?”

“Right, and eat me if you like. Either way, I can’t go on like this. You really messed up my vocal cords.”

“That’s insane. You’re a talking fish who is, in fact, talking. I didn’t think fish had vocal cords to begin with but you seem fine.”

“Right, but you don’t understand. I’m not a talking fish. I’m an opera fish. A tenor. The doctors say I’ll never sing again. I can’t go on.”

“Oh … wow … I really feel terrible. I mean, I know I just gave a lousy apology, but I really feel bad now for what I did. And, I’m sorry, I think you’re amazing just as a talking fish. I’m not going to kill you.”

“That’s very disappointing,” said the fish, who swam away.

He finished mowing the lawn in a daze, returned to the house and told no one of his encounter with the talking bass whose opera career he had ruined.

The next day he returned to the lake. The bass swam to him.

“Are you going to do it today? I can’t stand not having any treble in my range. Listen, I’ll make it easy. I’ll flop on shore and you just hit me with a hammer. That’s what happened to dad and it was actually a blessing.”

“Oh, was he old?”

“No, he was quite young, but he was a terrible father. He ate most of my siblings.”

“I see. Well, I still don’t want to kill you. You are an amazing fish.”

“That’s very disappointing. We’re not done here.” The fish swam away.

The next day he was in his house. He had concluded that the episode with the fish probably never really happened and had hoped that some distance from the water would clear his mind. He went to the bathroom to freshen up when he heard the distinct sound of scratching on porcelain. The lid to the toilet flung up.

“This is it. You have to do it today,” said the fish from the commode. “I dug into the drainage field, wiggled my way up your septic system into your plumbing and there’s no way back. You have to end my misery now.”

“You’re not real. You’re a figment of my imagination!”

“Oh yeah? How about this?” Suddenly, the bass jumped from the toilet and started slapping his face with its tail fin.

“Oww!” he said. The fish worked over his face before pounding his belly, eventually achieving a low, mesmerizing rhythm.

“Do you hear that,’ said the bass. “It’s music! Beautiful low sounds. I can make music again! I never thought to use the other end!”

In a blue-green flash, the fish shot down the john, out the septic and back into the lake where it started a funk band with a bunch of crayfish.

It goes to show that when a bass loses his treble, trouble can only be solved by more bass.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, June 28, 2015 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.



  1. always more bottom…always

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