Family hooked on singing fish

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Some gifts keep on giving long after the holidays.

Take Travis the Trout, for example.

Joni and I received the plastic, singing trout at our Sunday school class Christmas party.

Our annual gift exchange involves both silly and nice gifts. We pick numbers to determine the order in which we get to choose the wrapped presents. It's the luck of the draw.

Some of the silly gifts get rewrapped and passed on to another classmate the next year. That's the case with Travis the Trout, who has been a fixture at our Christmas parties for several years now.

Joni landed Travis this year, carefully preserved in its original box.

If we keep this tradition going much longer, Travis will be a full-fledged antique and we'll be able to sell him for a ridiculous amount of money on e-Bay.

The plastic, mounted trout sings "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and "Rock the Boat." The box advertises that it features "synchromotion" technology, which I assume is a high-tech way to say that the fish moves his mouth to the words of the songs and the fish will belt out the songs when people pass by thanks to its motion sensor. What more can you want in a Christmas gift?

As much as we enjoy it, I'm sure it will end up in the attic after the holidays.

You can only listen to a singing trout for so long even when it's all tuned up.

Still, our Sunday school class gets a big kick out of the fake fish.

It's a running holiday joke with us and leaves us looking forward to the next Christmas when our favorite fish will turn up again, batteries included.

We enjoy seeing just who ends up with Travis at the annual Christmas party. So far, it's been an equal opportunity trout, having ended up in a different household each year. He's clearly a party animal.

But one good thing about him is he doesn't make waves. He knows his place, on a fake rock.

I don't like to hook fish. But this trout is much livelier. Our 8-year-old, Bailey, thought the fish was great. She suggested I mount it on the living room wall.

Our dog, Cassie, doesn't seem interested or excited about the singing fish. She barked at it when I temporarily left it on the dining room chair after listening to the tunes. Cassie prefers to chew on a good bone. But then she doesn't like my shower singing either.

Some members of my family believe Travis sings better than I do in the shower.

Hey, they may be right. But at least I don't have to hang out on a fake rock all my life.

Travis may be singing, but things aren't nearly as merry on Mars where the British-built Beagle 2 lander has been silent since its scheduled touch down on the Red Planet on Christmas Day.

Scientists in London say the lander may have crashed in a crater, but they're holding out hope that the 143-pound device shaped like an oversized pocket watch landed safely and will eventually make contact with intelligent life -- we're talking about humans back on Earth, not sci-fi Martians.

Perhaps the scientists would have done better to have sent Travis into space. That singing trout certainly could be detected all over the universe.

Even a strange planet wouldn't keep that fish from belting out a tune.

And even if it were a flop, no one would mind. Every fish flops, even those that have plenty to sing about.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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