The Exceptional Codfish

from Another Forty Fables by Adam Acidophilus


There was once a little codfish who was perfectly ordinary in every conceivable respect; except for one — for it was exceptionally small. Indeed, many said it was the smallest codfish that they had ever seen!

All the same, it lived an average sort of life, in temperate sorts of waters, swimming nowhere in particular, with a great number of other – bigger – codfish.

“Hello Titch!” they would joke (for they could speak).

“Out the way, small fry,” they would add.

“Piss off, anchovy!” they would guffaw (for they could laugh and be sarcastic, and also knew a number of unpleasant anecdotes involving sardines).

The little codfish was very upset by this, but did nothing about it until one day — when all of the codfish were captured by a trawler.

“Help! Help!” screamed all the cod fish. “Let us go!”

“I never done it!” screamed one of them (who had).

“Let me go! I’m a herring!” screamed a herring. “I don’t belong here!”

But to no avail; for they were all too big to escape from the net.

All except for the little codfish, who slipped through one of the holes — just as the others were hauled from the water.

“You bastard!” it could hear them shout (for the fish could also swear). “You little bastard!” they cried after him.

A few days later the little codfish encountered a lobster on the ocean floor.

“Hey, you there!” barked the lobster. “How come we don’t see any of you codfish round here anymore?”

“Because they’ve all been caught,” replied the little codfish, “and I am the only survivor.”

“No kidding?” exclaimed the lobster. “How did you manage that?”

“I just tried a little harder than the rest,” lied the little codfish. “They all gave up so easily.”

The lobster was impressed. “You’ve obviously got what it takes to go out there and go for it, and get hold of it and make it big, and be a big go-getter!” it enthused.

The little codfish smiled and continued on its way, proudly flaunting its distinguishing marks.

“I’m the only codfish left!” it sang, “I’m rather special! It’s probably genetic! I’m an exceptional fish!”

“That’s one successful codfish over there,” remarked an oyster.

“Such nerves,” agreed a sycophantic clam.

An inquisitive eel asked the codfish to disclose the secrets of its success.

“Hard work, motivation, and nerves,” it quipped. “The others had no vision.”

“You mean they were blind?” gasped the eel.

“No, we all had the same opportunities,” sneered the codfish.

It swam on for several days, enlightening the other aquafauna, until it encountered the lobster again — now trapped in a lobster pot.

“You’ve gotta get me out of here!” shrieked the lobster. “You’ve got to set me free!”

“I’m afraid I cannot intervene,” answered the codfish. “You must learn to be responsible for your mistakes.”

“This is no time for philosophy! This is an emergency!” pleaded the lobster.

“Then go for it!” the little codfish advised him.

And so the lobster was pulled from the water; and the codfish swam off for a holiday — in the tropics, where it was eaten by something it had never heard of.

Moral: If you want to know about success — ask a failure.

© Adam Acidophilus 2011