Go Ask Daddy About Fish Identification, Amphibian Adolescence and the True Nature of Natural Speed


I did it.

GAD GRAPHICI powered through my first book reading/book signing. It was kind of unexpected, but a wonderful experience. I wasn’t sure I’d go through with it, honestly. I won’t bore you with the grim details. Let’s just say I made a well-informed conscious decision.

I vowed I would just show my appreciation for all who showed up!

A funny thing happened. It wasn’t just the cup of wine I had before, or the fact that Christine from the blog I’m Sick and So Are You showed up (how badass am I that my friend who showed has a blog name like that?)

book signing
Alessandra and me pushing our book in a quaint book store on Park Road. There was wine and guacamole and everything.

I enjoyed myself. I read, I talked, and I said thank you when people said nice things. There was also guacamole and salsa, but no one touched it, so i gave it to the cool dude at the bookstore. He thought it was righteous.

Shawna introduced us to the crowd of about 25-30 really friendly and fancy people, mostly peeps of my partner in crime, Alessandra Macaluso, who has a cooler name than mine. She absolutely killed it and was the professional.

Our book is called But Did You Die?. Let me know if you’d like an autographed copy, and I’ll throw in an original origami bookmark. Just $15. That’s like, three of those taco boxes at Taco Bell. What a value!

Now, onto the girls’ questions.

1. What does a striped bass look like?

Like a metallic green and silver MatchBox sports car, if metallic green and silver MatchBox sports cars were the size of a Costco bag of Fruit Loops. A striped bass is gorgeous, with double dorsal fins and side stripes that belong in NASCAR.

Many of a striped bass’ stripes go all the way, gills to tail. Why go halfway when you’re the universe, after all?

Here’s a video of a dude feeding striped bass. All other videos were of dudes catching striped bass, and then eating striped bass.

There used to be a group of fellas that would go out on Lake Norman overnight to fish for stripers, Camdyn, it’d be a blast to take that one, but you’d need a bottle of Mountain Dew, and I still predict you’d crash like your dad after drinking an IPA beer in the sun.

2. Can you really get a cab by whistling?

It’s not a bad way to go, if you don’t have the legs to do it that way.

Where taxis live, so too does noise. This means the whistle can’t be from the little train that probably couldn’t. We’re talking Super Chief decibels. It’s old-school, something Frank Sinatra could probably pull off.

A cabbie might even pull over just to see who did it.

You’ll want to go with the two-finger whistle. The Otis Redding or Andy Griffith whistles are classic, but if you want to stand out on a street corner in the Bronx, you better bring the fingers.

Or dress in just a Rockies jersey and Darth Vader socks, like Elizabeth Banks did in that dream I once had.

Ain’t Lizzy B., and can’t pull off the Lord of the Sith in loungewear? You might need to read this. It’s a manly skill I’ve yet to develop, right along with the ability to eat corn chips without cutting my mouth or getting all the spots when I shave without a mirror.

photo credit: Pristimantis orcesi via photopin (license)

3. What’s the last stage before a tadpole becomes a frog?

Pretty sure it’s a Green Party lobbyist, but lemme check.

I’ve just discovered that frogs can mate for days on end. That’s the good news. The bad news? They’ll try to mate with anything that comes along which isn’t small enough to eat. This second part, at least, has been said about minor-league baseball players.

That awkward teenager frog stage? It’s the Era of the Froglet.

It looks like a fully-grown frog, but has a bit of a tail. Kind of like an American teenager. The froglet’s voice cracks and it probably needs Clearasil. Eventually, it comes out of the water and onto dry land, completing a 12-16-week life cycle.

They’ll hop about, hop on another frog (hopefully), not get squished on the sidewalk, and come back to the water to lay eggs and start the whole thing over. No two-finger whistling required.

4. Can you do this, dad?

I once had a photo of the specific act in motion, but that was three phones ago.

(There’s a wing in phone heaven dedicated to my devices. They’re water-logged and worn out, dropped, scrapped, dunked into soda. They bear the stripes of me falling down while jogging, and the distinct aroma of Pepsi Max, mixed with digital components.)

There are a lot of things pops can’t do anymore – and a ton of those, he wouldn’t want to, either.

I can’t stay up (writing) every night past 2. I can’t outrun you girls (probably) and I can’t save two KitKat bars for ‘later.’ I can’t get up off the floor without making whale mating noises, and I can’t grow a beard that isn’t gray as this entire Pinterest board.

There’s plenty I can do, too.

I can stay up until 1:28 a.m. I can sing the words to La Bamba, the real ones, not just la-la-la-la-bamba. I can (now) differentiate between dishwasher liquid and dishwasher soap. I can drive the speed limit and not even take the bird-flipping at me personally.

What can you do, child of mine?

photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via photopin cc

5. How fast is a cheetah?

Fast enough to pass me, turn around, backpedal, and flip his middle claw up at me. That’s twice as fast as cable Internet.

In sprints, a cheetah can muster as much as 75 mph. One could score from first on a feeble dribbler to the mound, theoretically. Did you know, though, that for all its speedy reputation, the cheetah doesn’t top the speed chart of the animal world?

We’ve accepted the cheetah’s place atop the speed throne.

It’s unfair to the cheetah’s individuality. Imagine, the cheetah pup who would rather stay home and write poetry than go out on the Savannah and make a blur of himself. Where is his right to artful expression that challenges the social norms?

According to fastcompany.com (seriously), lofty cheetah stats are under ideal conditions. Kind of like the NFL Combine, when prospective players run a straight line in spandex T-shirts too small for them for a group of nerdy coaches with stopwatches.

In the wild, a college senior isn’t going to run a straight line in a clingy shirt. He’s going to in the abusive humidity of an early September evening at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, with boorish San Francisco 49ers linebackers bearing down on him.

(Okay, maybe Jets linebackers – the 49ers made me laugh, too. Oh wait, that’s no better! Bengals? Titans? Lions? Geez, just imagine a really good team’s linebackers. I’m sure they’re boorish.)

Out in the wild, whatever dinner a cheetah chases has made it through natural selection somehow. They probably know a cheetah cheat or two, such as running zig-zag, so that the speedy cat can’t get up a head of steam.

Imagine the gazelle talking shit to his predator as he has to start up every time the gazelle zigged and zagged, the Animal Kingdom equivalent of the Deion Sanders high step into the end zone.

This might incite the cheetah further, who might say “eff this,” and run his predator right into heavy traffic (or a substantial tree).

Under these conditions, like on the frozen tundra of Buffalo (stick with me!), the raucous din of New Orleans, or overpriced accommodations in Dallas, a cheetah can muster up about 33 mph. Pedestrian, really. And you, Mr. Gazelle? Did You Die?

Well, probably. It didn’t help that I pissed off your predator on the highway on his way to eat you.

griffey cheetah quote

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40 thoughts on “Go Ask Daddy About Fish Identification, Amphibian Adolescence and the True Nature of Natural Speed

    1. Thanks, Aj! It was much easier than imagined. Imagine how strong your heart is today thanks to that grad-school exercise.

      Do you feel more comfortable talking in front of people now? I think talking in front of people isn’t what bothered me – it was being uncomfortable saying, “hey, listen to my stuff!”

  1. LOL! These are great questions!!!! 😎
    1. I don’t fish 🎣 but I know what a striped bass 🐠 looks like… it’s stripey right?? 😊
    2. Interesting the cab 🚕 whistle thing. If you have one in your sights with it’s light on then you might be able to get it with a righteous whistle like you said, but I have always wanted one of those whistles the doorman have at hotels. You can hear 👂 those things above it ALL!
    3. Frogs.. 🐸 hmmm. I have to say I learned a couple of things there. Had no idea about the uhm.. ah uhm the mating ritual. Will have to watch myself when around frogs at mating time! ha ha! 😞
    4. There are indeed a lot of things I can still do 😎 but things I cannot do anymore because my body say.. “Yeah right! Just go ahead and try to do the splits again and we shall see who gets the last laugh!” 💃
    5. Cheetahs are awesome animals as are panthers and any of those other cool cats 😽🐾who can run fast!
    Congrats on your book!! 📖 I bet the book signing was loads of fun!!! I always enjoy reading your blog Eli. Could you see if my comments are going to SPAM? (hopefully you will see this one) 😢
    Have an incredible weekend and holiday! ❤

    1. This was a worthy batch, right Courtney? Sometimes it all comes together. They call striped bass “stripers,” which is precarious, because an extra P and you have something very different on the hook.

      My kids’ kids will someday ask them why they would whistle at a cab when they could just order an Uber.

      Watch your back around frogs. It makes you wonder how Miss Piggy handles this season with Kermit. His lack of decorum could become worrisome at parties and other social gatherings.

      Your comments aren’t going to spam. Not even the one you sent with the F word in it. (Kidding! She really didn’t!) I have to approve messages before they post so I can cut down on the wedding proposals. Or death threats. Either/or.

  2. Hahahaha, I loved the cheetah answer. 🙂 And gosh, I can’t remember any other lyrics for La Bamba – Wait. No. That’s a lie. I remember, “Arriba! Arriba!”

    Congrats on the reading, btw! I’m glad to hear that it went so well and, most importantly, that you enjoyed yourself.

    1. Thanks, Sara – so much to consider when it comes to those speedy cats, right? I actually sang La Bamba at karaoke in Cancun. How’s that for a twisted mess?

      My favorite line: Yo no soy marinero. Soy capitan!” (I’m not a sailor. I’m the captain!)

      Thanks on the reading – I should have come to you for advice! Instead, I had a cup of wine. It was a blast and I got to talk to some cool people.

  3. You did a great job at the reading! I’m so glad I went and I’m only slightly bitter that my sister won the book raffle and not me. See, I told you I wasn’t lucky. Lol! The book is hilarious.

    1. Thanks, Christine! I was so glad to see you there. Your sis ought to buy you a book. You might be lucky yet!

      Glad you like the book – there’s some funny shit in there.

    1. Thanks Lisa! I fell asleep writing it the night before and finished first thing in the morning, before a breakfast croissant and everything.

      Glad you liked the pic, and thank you for your kind words. It was an awesome experience.

  4. Congrats on the book! If I had been there, I would have definitely eaten the guacamole. I am off to order the book on Barnes and Noble ( I get free shipping on there).

  5. congrats, my friend and glad you made it through. yes, i’d like an autographed book, what do i do? so frogs are the ‘sting’ of the animal kingdom? he would be so proud –

    1. I’m still standing, Beth! I am going to buy a couple of books at this great book store, and send you one and one other blog friend who asked for one, for $15. Sound good? I’ll even make you an origami bookmark.

      Tantric frogs … I wonder if that’s a thing.

  6. Congratulations, and i agree that cheetahs are fast, but they still only get the prey about 10% of the time.

  7. As I type this, I can overhear the sweet chattering of my daughter. She’s standing on a stool in the bathroom, watching my dad shave and asking him questions: “Does that hurt?” “Does shaving creme taste like marshmallow creme?” “Can you shave my face?” I believe these are the only times I’ve heard my father say no to Zoey, and three times in a row at that!

    Questions that have answers are some of the best ones, and I love how you take the time to find such interesting information on the ones your daughters ask. It’s such a creative way to make a connection with them, a way to have a conversation with them that surely makes them curious about even more of life’s wonders. The intention behind this series makes me smile.

    Congratulations on the book signing — you’re in the big league now, Coach.

    1. I so remember when Camdyn was Zoey’s age, and she watched me shave. I gave her a disposable razor with the cover still on it, and lathered her face so she could shave alongside me.

      I wonder if she remembers that!

      I love the research of these posts, Corey. I always learn a ton. Plus, I like to relate it to something the girls would know, of that I’ve dealt with in my life.

      If you could only see the list of questions i’m dealing with!

      Thanks about the book signing. I know I’m in the presence of great writing, so it spurs me to up my game!

      Your name will be on a book one day. I’ll bet this blog on it.

  8. You survived the book signing!! Cheers to many more!!
    Wow, catching a cab by whistling in NYC would be like trying to be heard in a monsoon …. Maybe it might work on the quiet streets on the Upper East Side…. I go for the ‘ole one-armed hail!

    1. Thanks, Katherine! I do hope to do it again. I had a great partner in crime for this. Alessandra is a pro at it.

      These days, who hails a cab anymore?

      1. Well, we live less than an hour from NYC … we don’t go in often, but when we used to take a train or bus in (pre-kids) we’d sometimes need a cab. I actually got to practice my Jerry Seinfeld-esque hailing skills. 🙂 I felt so grown up….!

      2. They say if you can get a cab there, you can get a cab anywhere, Katherine. I have other Jerry Seinfeld-esque skills, including doing a lot about nothing!

      3. If you’re anything like us, you pull out many Seinfeld quotes! Although as the years go by, I find myself saying less and less – eclipsed perhaps by shows like Futurama and other nerdy shows and movies….

      4. I wish my kids could watch Seinfeld, Katherine – actually, I wonder if they’d like it. I love to quote the one when George works for the Yankees and hangs around the execs from the Houston Astros, who curse a lot but not the way New Yorkers do (this sounded more cohesive in my head.)

      5. Yeah … it might be above their generation. Though my husband watched The Honeymooners with his parents, so there’s hope!
        Classic episode!! (But aren’t they all….)

  9. Informative AND entertaining. Way better than those 2 am infomercials. The perigrin falcon gets the award of fastest animal. The cheetah is fastest on land. Funny you should post about stripped bass. My youngest’s class just visited a fish hatchery where they raise trout to stock lakes and such. Lastly, frogs and cheetahs are two of my favorites (I even have a frog tattoo). Congrats on the book and the signing. That’s awesome!

    1. Thanks, my brother. It depends on the infomercial! Falcons are fast, especially Julio Jones. I wonder who’s fastest in water.

      I loved a field trip to a place we got to catch tadpoles in nets we made out of nylons. I don’t even know what the place was called.

      I didnt know about the frog tattoo! I should get a tadpole who looks like a frog but still has a tail.

      the book signing was surreal, Eric. Thank you.

  10. I’d much rather READ to a group of people than SPEAK to them. At least with a book the words are still in front of me, so it’s not so embarrassing if my mind goes blank.

  11. You are awesome. Also CONGRATULATIONS! Does this mean you’ll be doing a lot more of these signings and coming to a city near you kind of thing?! That’s so exciting Eli! I’m proud of you, buddy! That’s a great pic, too. Also who are these people? NO ONE TOUCHED THE GUAC? Oh hell no. I woulda housed that thing. But like, all dainty like.

    I loved the cheetah answer. And hailing a cab. I just did this a week ago in New York (though not the whistle. As it turns out, New York cab drivers have selective hearing, ha!).

    1. Thanks, Charlotte! I wish i could travel and sign, and see what other places do for guacamole. It’s been a fun ride.

      I’m proud to be included with these incredible writers. I’m glad the dude at the book store was able to cash in on the dip bounty (and I snuck the other stash of guac out with me … shhh.)

      I think you shall have a guac bowl all to yourself if you’re ever at a signing (did I mention there was also wine?)

      When cab-hailing and cheetah questions come in the same post, magic things can happen, Charlotte. Remember that.

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