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The Prom Night Salmon Battle of 1989
New Year's Eve 2022 Meets Senior Prom
This New Year’s Eve, my husband and I went out to dinner with some friends. We’d been looking forward to it for weeks, a new place, 5-star chef, fabulous menu, and all of our favorite people gathered to celebrate once more in 2022. What a wonderful evening!
However, the place we were going had a very limited New Year’s Eve menu. We could choose from Lobster Tail, Beef Wellington, Prime Rib, Petite Filet with Shrimp, or Stuffed Salmon.
I love salmon. I love the pinky flesh, the aroma, the texture, the flavor, and everything about the rich goodness of the fish. Salmon is my favorite fish of all to eat, which I discovered on prom night, 1989.
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I also discovered on that same night that salmon would like nothing more than to kill me from the inside out. No other food has hated my guts so much.
Tom and I had started prepping for prom in February. We were high school sweethearts, destined to be together forever, in love and practically engaged. Tom was working extra hours at his dad’s chiropractic office so that we could have the best of best nights. His father was allowing us to take their red Pontiac Fiero (lovingly called Fifi) for the night.
My mom took me dress shopping in Portland so we wouldn’t have sales tax to pay on the dress like we did in the Seattle area and we found a beautiful pink gown that made me look like a princess. Tom rented a gray tux with a bowtie that matched my dress. My makeup was perfect and my hair was huge.
Tom and Fifi picked me up and we went to a lovely dinner with a view of the Puget Sound. I ordered the salmon because I had seen it on someone else’s plate and it looked wonderful. It came with salad, rolls, potato, and a fancy sauce.
From the first bite, I was in love. As we talked and laughed, I kept thinking about how perfect this food was and wondering how I had never had it fixed in this manner before. I savored every bite, yet tried to keep pace with Tom, knowing that we would have to leave for the dance soon enough.
As I pushed away my dinner plate and Tom asked me if I wanted dessert, I began to feel the first stirrings that something was amiss below. I drank some water and prayed to God that I was mistaken.
“You look a little pale,” Tom said, and I shook my head.
We went back to the car and I hoped that the little walk would help things settle.
Instead, the salmon apparently thought that the jiggling of the walk was apparently my way of declaring war because it doubled-down on its attack as soon as we got in the car.
Tom opened the door for me and I sat, holding my stomach gently, trying to get some sort of peace talks started in there. We started driving and I realized that some gas was going to slip out. Thankfully, it was quiet and I hoped for lady-like discretion.
Alas, my sneak attack, while silent, was pungent and Tom was not silent about it.
“What the hell is that smell?”
I turned red. We’d been dating a while and we’d actually had farting contests, but I felt like a princess and this was skunk-rolled-in-manure bad.
Tom rolled down his window and stuck his head out while he was driving.
Unfortunately, the salmon was not done with its assault and the next hit was not silent. As the blast let loose, Tom laughed uncontrollably. At that moment, all I could do was hold my stomach tighter from the pain. Otherwise, I may have been laughing too.
Then the smell hit and we both had to roll our windows down.
“I have never smelled anything that bad! I am so proud of you!” he said.
We got to the prom venue and as soon as we were let in, I found my stall in the bathroom, where I spent most of the rest of the evening.
From what I heard, Tom had a wonderful night dancing with many of our friends, enjoying the music, and telling the story of me stink-bombing the Fiero.
Salmon taught me that it takes very little time to go from feeling beautiful and princess-like to feeling like a swamp monster whose sole purpose is to annihilate the planet, or at least your date.
For our entire relationship, through graduation, our wedding, every friendship we made, every family gathering, and our divorce, I never lived down the story of Prom Night. And each time the tale was told from Tom’s perspective, the embellishments grew until it involved an emergency room visit with a need for oxygen to be administered to him.
I still love salmon and I still eat it from time-to-time because it is delicious. I keep hoping my digestive system has changed and my stomach tolerates it in small amounts, but only when the salmon is outnumbered by rice and cannot possibly gather its forces enough to battle.
This New Year’s Eve, I weighed my choices carefully. I longed for the stuffed salmon, filled with a mix of crab meat and scallops. I shared my tortured decision paralysis with my husband, who looked at me with pleading, sorrowful eyes.
He simply said, “get whatever you’d like, Dear.”
He was willing to sacrifice his clean air for me to have my favorite dish, to risk the possibility of needing to sleep in the basement for the next several days so that I could enjoy the sweet savory salmon that would attack my intestines.
Instead, I waved the white flag before the battle even started. I chose the lobster tail (for twice the price of the salmon) and my husband thanked me for not waging inadvertent biological warfare on our group.