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Fish takes own life and other memorable musings

April 12, 2009
By ABIGAIL MCWILLIAM, Messenger news editor

I'm back.

I tossed the idea of writing another column around and decided not to - until my boss shot me a look and told me I had set a precedent last week.

So here I am, again, unable not to think about the days when I wrote a weekly column at my first newspaper job in Marengo.

I was young, very self-involved and hilarious. Really, I was. People told me - I even had a group of regular followers which resulted in rarely paying a bar tab in Williamsburg, where I lived.

My editor at the time was a great guy by the name of Dan. He was really laid back, let me do my job without much supervision and on top of that he had a mullet. This guy was a classic.

Early on he told me I should contribute a regular column and that all I had to write about were things from my personal experience.

I felt like I had arrived. I was certain I would become my favorite TV character, Carrie Bradshaw.

Most of my columns were based loosely on not taking life too seriously. From getting lost in rural Iowa County to imagining I was getting hit on at the grocery store when the guy was talking to another chick.

One day I was actually presented with proof that my pants were unzipped.

It may have been some sort of karma for breaking the ice with the new chiropractor by asking, "What's cracking?"

I had found the doc in Amana, and to get to the bottom of the a kink in my neck, he wanted to take some X-rays. No problem. This was going to be an easy picture with no worry of food stuck between my teeth or half-closed eyes.

Once the X-rays were developed, I took a look with the good doctor:

Spine - check.

Wire from bra - check.

Life-sized proof my pants were unzipped - gasp!

I slipped my hand under my shirt and sure enough - zipper down.

I was torn. Should I zip it up right then? Make a joke about it? Run screaming from the office?

Fortunately, the chiro seemed to be more interested in my bones, but at that point I decided that I would document my adventures in my column, "Unzipped."

Other times, my experiences were somewhat sad and hysterical at the same time.

I've never really been an easy person to live with. But years ago as a young reporter in my first apartment out of college, I thought perhaps a Betta fish would enjoy being my companion. I held onto this belief until one Sunday morning when I found him dead on my kitchen floor.

I still don't understand why he flipped himself out of his bowl and onto the unaccommodating, dry floor.

Buddy the Betta lived in a beautiful corner of my kitchen where I talked to him daily. Perhaps it was because I sometimes sang to him. The only other living species in my house were a lucky bamboo plant and an African violet. They lived a few months longer.

These days, I'm in charge of an actual human being. A 3-year-old male. I can't emphasize this point enough - he is a 3-year-old male.

Brandon is the absolute joy of my life while at the same time sucking every iota of energy I have from my body on a daily basis.

Lately, his big idea is that he "wants something." I've never been able to determine what that something is. Meanwhile, when I "want something" - for example - for him to accompany me to the laundry room, he "Don't want to."

Yet, he's a hilarious little rat. Every time we get in my car, it is absolutely imperative that we listen to "Disturbia." He calls it the "bum bum be-dum song" and sadly he knows almost every word from "I'm going crazy now ... "

I know the feeling. I'm raising a 3-year-old male.

Contact Abigail McWilliam at (515) 573-2141 or



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