How to clean a fish, six-year old style

True story.

Five-year old Paul and six-year-old Richard are playing in the backyard when Richard gets a wild hair up his butt to go fishing at the local pond.  They gather a couple of poles and a bucket and wander off down the dirt path to the pond.

A short time later they return with a bucket of fish.  Filled with excitement, Paul rushes inside the house.

“Daddy!  Daddy!  Look what I caught!”

After getting a stern lecture from his dad about going to the pond without an adult, Paul’s dad praises him and tells him to take the fish out to the garage so he can clean them.

Paul returns to the garage, a smile on his face.

“So, what’d your dad say?” Richard asks.

“He said they have to get cleaned.”

“Do you know how to clean a fish?”

Paul shrugs.  “I guess in the washing machine.”

Paul drags the footstool in front of the washer, climbs up and dumps the bucket of fish in the washing machine.  Paul is climbing on the dryer to get to the detergent just as his mom rounds the corner of the garage, laundry basket in hand.

“What are you doing up there?” she asks Paul.  “Get down before you break your neck.”

Paul and Richard watch as Paul’s mom dumps the whole load of whites into the washing machine.  Underwear, socks, towels and napkins flutter down on top of the fish.  Across the way, Richard grins,  the crease on his face getting bigger with every article falling into the machine.  Paul’s mom puts the detergent in and closes the lid , placing the basket on top.

“What’s the matter with you?” she asks her son.  “Close your mouth. Are you trying to catch flies?”  She walks across the garage, her high heals clicking across the concrete.  She turns and says, “You two want some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a grape soda?”

The boys nod and for a few minutes, they are left alone.  Paul scurries over to the washing machine and using the step stool, lifts the lid and peeks inside.  Sure enough, there are the fish, swishing back and forth, their heads peeking out from beneath the socks and suds.

“I wonder why you have to clean the fish first?” Paul says.  “We don’t eat the outsides.”

Richard laughs and sits down on a metal fold up chair.  Paul closes the lid, grabs a bag of marbles from the metal shelf and sits down on the floor in front of his friend.

“You wanna play?” he asks.

Richard’s eyes twinkle with laughter.  “Sure.”

They are deep into a game of “Ringer” when Paul’s dad walks into the garage.

“Hey, kids.  You want to learn how to clean a fish?”  He pulls down a black box from the top shelf and opens it.  Out came a long, thin knife.

Paul stands, a confused look on his face.  “But, Daddy, we already cleaned the fish.”

“What do you  mean you cleaned them.   Where are they?”

Paul points to the washing machine.  “Mommy’s washing them with the socks.”

A horrified look crosses his father’s face.  Richard rolls on the floor, clutching his side in laughter.

Paul’s father opens the lid of the washer and grimaces.  “Oh, son, what have you done?”

“What?  You said you needed to clean the fish.  I was only trying to help.”

48 thoughts on “How to clean a fish, six-year old style

  1. This is absolute sanity but I LOVE it. I can’t imagine bringing up such an imaginative child. It’s a wonder his parents made it through his growing years–alive (I assume?) I also can’t wait to hear the spagetti on white story.


    1. Yes, when Paul first told me the story I thought I was going to split my side open. One of these days I might tell his spaghetti story. While not as innocently funny, it’s another classic tale involving Paul, Richard and Paul’s two older brothers. Four pre-teen boys in a small kitchen with white cabinets, white walls and a white cat. I’ll let your imaginations run with that one. 🙂


            1. Oh heavens no! These stories belong to a dear friend of mine who has passed away. I’ve always wanted to share his funny stories but never knew how or when. The fish story seemed a perfect blog post. I’m so glad people have found humor in it. Paul was a very beautiful, wonderful person and needs to be remembered. These stories are/will be nice tributes to him, his family and his friends.


  2. Reblogged this on Kana's Chronicles and commented:
    I’m sharing this reblog from J.Keller Ford because it made me laugh and laugh! I’ve read it aloud to everyone in my family, and wanted to share it with my blogging-family as well. I’ll be catching up tomorrow on our own adventures, but here’s a gem in the meantime….
    🙂 Cheers, Kana


  3. Great story, Jenny, made better by the fact it’s TRUE! I can just imagine the look on his parents’ faces when he told them what he’d done. YUCK! I wouldn’t want to be the one who had to clean everything after the fish were ‘cleaned’. Funny what kids will come up with, isn’t it?


  4. Oh wait, is this a true story?! Oh haha, who doesn’t want their clothes to come out of the washing machine with that fresh fishey smell? And the sad thing is… that’s what I would have done 😀


  5. Hmmm. I’m thinking I don’t want to be anywhere near them for a very long time. You’d probably have to throw out the laundry, as well as the machine… especially if they used hot water. They’d be cooked. Ewwweeee!


    1. that’s exactly what they had to do. Paul said they burned the clothes because the smell was so bad. LOL. Poor kid. Funny thing was he said his parents got madder at Richard for letting him do it than they did at Paul for doing it.


  6. If I was the mom, I’m not sure I’d be laughing for a few days. But as a reader of the story, that was adorable! 🙂


    1. Can’t you just see him all cute and innocent? The thing is, his best friend knew that wasn’t the way to clean fish and he let Paul do it anyway! what a stinker! LOL!


  7. Oh that is so funny. Of course it was logical for his tiny mind to put the fish in the washing machine – bet they came out lovely and clean (and tasting of fish).


    1. Oh my gosh, I can’t begin to tell you the funny stories Paul told me. All of them seemed to have his best friend, Richard, at the core, even up until the time Paul passed away at the age of 35. I had the pleasure of meeting Richard once. What a colorful character. I’m sure he kept his mama on her toes when he was little.


  8. Oh, I do love stories that begin with “True Story”.

    Having been a nanny for ten years, I have quite a few true stories of my own. Too bad the Nanny Diaries was already written by the time I thought about documenting it all down in a book.

    Ugh. I can only imagine how terrible the laundry must have smelt for weeks; like being sprayed by a skunk!


    1. Not to mention getting the fish scales out of the clothes and washing machine. What I didn’t mention was that this story took place in 1961. Washing machines weren’t like they are now.


    1. Can you imagine the mom’s face when she found out? According to my friend, Paul, the story made it’s circle many times over the years and always got a good laugh.


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