This is no time to be a fish. You have heard the fishies' Lenten Lullabye, haven't you?
Now I lay me
Down to sleep,
I hope I wake
Within the deep.
If I should fry
Before I wake
I'll know it's Lent,
for pity's sake.
We at "The Gods Are Bored" therefore salute the bravery of tonight's guest, who has come here in all his amino-acid-rich glory and on a Friday to boot! Please give a wild, warm, wonderful "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Fintan, the Salmon of Wisdom, sacred to the Celtic pantheon!
Anne: Welcome, blessed Fintan, holder of all the knowledge in the universe!
Fintan: I wish you had told me you live up the street from a fish market, Anne. A customer tried to grab me. I had to eat his BlackBerry and cough it out without the memory chip.
Anne: Oh, sorry! I was afraid you wouldn't come if I mentioned the local shoppes.
Fintan: No problem. But perhaps you should give some background on me, for your readers who think humans are the be-all and end-all in the brain game.
Anne: Okay, well, Fintan's story varies from location to location, as all good fish stories do, but here it is in a Hazelnut of Wisdom shell. The great Finn Mac Cool (awesome Celt) wanted to gain all the knowledge he could in order to rule wisely.
Fintan: Unlike today, when your leadership vies to be stupidest on the planet.
Anne: See, folks? I told you he was one smart fish. Anyway, Finn Mac Cool's travels took him to a sacred well. Into the well dropped nuts from the Tree of Knowledge ... say. Wait a minute, Fintan. I thought the Tree of Knowledge had apples on it!
Fintan: Wrong tree, wrong pantheon. Stay with the hazelnuts.
Anne: Okay. The hazelnuts dropped into the sacred pool, and you, Fintan, ate them. You thus became stuffed to the plimsol line with wisdom and smarts.
Anne: So Finn Mac Cool found you at your Phi Beta Kappa banquet, but there was a sage named Finegas living by the pool who kept trying to catch and eat you because that sage had divined that someone named "Finn" would catch and eat you and thus become a geek of first stripe.
Fintan: Poor Finegas. He was an old dude when Finn Mac Cool came along. Finn just snapped his fingers, and up I flopped onto the land. You'd think that would be a tip-off to Finegas that he was a fin short of a ten-spot. But no. Finegas asked Finn to cook me but not eat me.
Anne: And Finn did just that, except that he burned his thumb during cooking and had to suck on it to cool the burn. I know this has nothing to do with the story, but have you ever seen a man trying to barbecue anything? They don't fool me with their macho outdoor spatulas and lighter fluid.
Fintan: Finn was no exception. He rather botched the cookout, but he came away sadder and wiser for it. Sad because his thumb hurt. Wise because his thumb hurt. And whenever he wanted to use his far-ranging knowledge to solve some conundrum, he would just bite his thumb.
Anne: If old Finn Mac Cool hadn't flown off to Sidhe with the rest of the bored Celtic gods and goddesses, he'd be gnawing his thumb to the bone today. Does Finn really have a solution to tough stuff like global warming, wars of empire, and misguided use of taxpayer largesse?
Fintan: Of course! But he knows these One God people won't listen, so he's biding his time, along with all the Gentry of Sidhe.
Anne: Speaking of the One God people, they are just one of many praise and worship teams who feel that knowledge is the source of all evil. One thinks also of Prometheus and Pandora. I'm getting from you that the Celts thought their heroes ought to have knowledge. In fact, it seems like a significant prize.
Fintan: So significant, indeed, that Druids still include me by name in their rituals.
Anne: Yes, that's how I found you. By looking in the Druid Yellow Pages under "wisdom." Psyche! I knew about you already. I'm big into bored gods that ought to get better-paying gigs and more respect.
Fintan: And this does not surprise me. Is that not a Phi Beta Kappa certificate with your name on it, hanging on the wall?
Anne: I've always been a Druid. I just didn't know it until a few years ago.
Fintan: I knew it all along. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's nearing the supper hour, and I noted that big Roman Catholic family across the street...
Anne: Oh yes! We've got to take you to the river. Drop you in the water.
Fintan: You geezer. We're waiting for you in Sidhe.
Anne: I'm glad to hear it. Could I take just one picture of you? No one is going to believe how big you are!
Fintan: They all want a snapshot.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS, WV
Summer residence of Fintan, the Salmon of Wisdom