Goldfish racing hard to swallow

For the benefit of the folks at PETA, let it be clear at the outset this columnist stands unequivocally opposed to Goldfish Racing.

Goldfish have but one purpose, to float around a bloated jar and be stared at by people with even more boring lives than mine. And yet this benign creature is the reason some will suggest New Mexico’s slogan might well be, “The State Without a Pulse.” Or, “Even Mississippi Has More Fun.”

Crisis alert! At the risk of being sexist may I suggest, “Oh, Susana girl, time to get your groove on! Call an emergency meeting of your top tourism experts, rally the elite promotional squad.” Why? Because when even rednecks are poking fun at us, we are in a world of hurt.

A sassy deejay on one of the national satellite cowboy stations recently had too much fun at our expense. She jeered New Mexico as a really happening place, party time, bring your own balloons. Why did she mock us as a state that sits around on Saturday nights watching traffic lights blink? Because an Albuquerque bar is enticing customers with Goldfish Racing.

The listener chuckles, confident it can’t be true — until a simple computer search reveals, yes, indeed, Goldfish Racing is all the rage at the bar scene. For those who have never seen a fish race, here’s what happens.

When the barkeep blows the whistle, you dump your fish into a water-filled gutter, squirt water at your fishy to urge it toward the finish line. It seems rather innocent, if dumb. On occasion a drunk will swallow one of the goldfish.

Can’t you imagine some of the bar arguments? “My ‘ish won!”

“B— S—, my ‘ish won. Mine’s the rornge rone!”

So why would PETA care one whit about the goldfish derby? It’s the water bottle. A spokesperson said that since the fish is so small, squirted water from a spray bottle would probably feel like being blasted by a fire hose, and it is hurting them.

However, PETA’s worry about the patron swallowing goldfish along with his bar peanuts may be overrated. That’s the opinion of Frank Turk who apparently runs Coach’s Bar and Grille and who is quite proud of the Goldfish Racing attraction. And he is not all that sympathetic to the PETA protest. He said so far only one fish was swallowed.

“It’s their own prerogative if they want to drink the fish.” Turk is quoted on KRQE.com. “I’m not going to say no but it would be funny if they did.”

While I remain opposed to Goldfish Racing from the standpoint it places New Mexico squarely in the “Land of Goofy People,” Turk has a point. If a guy wants to race a goldfish or swallow a goldfish, isn’t that his right? Why else have we fought our wars for freedom?

Fads run their cycle. The tubby fellow in the neighborhood who twirled his hula hoop was cute until the third straight week he stood in his yard making a fool of himself. Then, it was, “hey, guy, get a life.”

To be candid, I thought the Deming Duck Race would run a similar course, but the southwestern outpost hit on a winner when one of my favorite news guys, the late Harold Cousland, then editor of the Deming Headlight, sat around a bar with some other Deming leaders wondering what they could do to boost tourism in that dusty town.

The Great American Duck Race thrives today.

Will Goldfish Racing have a long shelf life? I don’t know, but right now I’m heading for Albuquerque with my friend. Come on, Goldie Lox, you squirmy little girl. We’re headed for life in the fast lane.

Have a nice day.