You are here: Home / Columns / My Corner of the Canyon: William Shakespeare and The Wish Fish
My Corner of the Canyon: William Shakespeare and The Wish Fish
May 3, 2012 - By Kathie Gibboney
The old book is black and thick.
There are three of them, The Comedies, The Histories, The Tragedies. In each is written in my fathers brave hand, To Kathie from Mother & Dad, Christmas 1972.
Daughter Miranda was to present a famous literary person in her class at school. She chose William Shakespeare. I need some props, she tells me. A prop and costume. I get extra points for them.
You may take one of my books, I allow. And the blue velvet cape. But you must be careful of the book.
I know, your parents gave it to you. You used to use it when you were an actress. Its perfect. Ill be careful.
The next morning I dressed in real clothes, not the combination of my nighty with a sweatshirt quickly thrown over it, which is my usual uniform to drive the carpool.
This morning I must be presentable. This morning I must enter the main office and hope someone has turned in a black book of the Comedies of Shakespeare, Players Illustrated Edition published in 1955 and a blue velvet cape stuffed unceremoniously into a Target bag, of all things, and left on the grass near a bench by a careless but dear 13 year old.
I had, in fact, already called the school office that morning and asked if the items were there. They were not and I was advised to try the lost and found at the Attendance Office.
After dropping off my charges I park my car and with great hope approach the Attendance Office.
Directly inside the door is a cart filled with a random assortment of backpacks, books and bags. It looks promising. My eye is instantly drawn to a white plastic bag and I grab it, thinking this is going to be easy, in spite of the fact that it is a Macys bag. Inside is a pair of slightly muddy shoes. I scrutinize the cart wanting so to see a Target bag but, alas, no matter how much I look, it is not there. A lady asks if she can help and advises me to look in the Lost and Found bins outside the office. She points out the door directing me. I step outside and see nothing. No bag, no book, no bins. I stand there staring stupidly. I talk to myself, I dont see any bins. What bins? There arent any bins.
Through an open window I ask the lady again where the bins are. Theyre right there, she answers gesturing to a place just below the window, gesturing to empty space. I feel as if Im going a bit crazy and am glad Im not in my nightgown, which would complete the picture of an ageing, wacky lady mumbling something about Shakespeare and a blue cape. Seeing another door, this one to the Health Office, I open it and ask the nurse-like person inside if she knows where the Lost and Found bins are? Oh right there. She, too, answers, indicating the area where there is nothing.
But I dont see them, I admit, wondering if I have fallen into a twilight zone. Finally the lady leans over and looks out her door. Oh, they arent there, she observes. Did you check the Attendance Office?
After all involved agree that there are no Lost and Found bins visible, Im advised to check with the maintenance guys. Oh yeah, they picked all that up this morning, explains one of the guys, showing me at last the elusive Lost and Found bin, now quite empty. It was a real mess, had to be hauled away as trash. The kids were peeing on the stuff. Everything smelled. Do you want the number of the trash company?
The image of a heartless boy, for I assume it would have been a boy and a tall boy at that, peeing into the Lost and Found bin is disturbing in its own right, let alone on my personal treasures.
And when would this unholy act take place? It certainly wouldnt be during school, so some marauder would have to be on the campus at night. I imagine a scenario in which some reckless, hell-bent kid and his foul-mouthed friend are drinking large sodas straight from the bottle and careening around the shadowed school, half-drunk on the sugar and when finding the bathroom locked, they turn to the next best thing, the Lost and Found bin and thus defile William Shakespeare.
For a moment I entertain the thought of sorting through mountains of urine-soaked trash in a landfill somewhere to rescue my beloved book but even I cannot go that far. After leaving a last note in the Main Office, just in case, I drive away, maybe crying just a little to think that The Comedies of Shakespeare, Players Illustrated Edition, with a dedication written in my fathers brave hand had come to such a shabby, sad and tragic end. Part of me refused to believe it.
At the Shaka Shack we have a yellow rubber fish, probably from the 1960s, that was designed as a coin purse. It is as big as your hand and has an industrial zipper down its back. A Topanga family, the Korades, gave it to us as a present when we opened the restaurant. It struck me as special right away and I set it on a golden dish and named it, Wish Fish.
I invite customers to write wishes on a piece of paper and then insert the wish inside the fish and I, too, have been known to do so. When the fish gets filled up I take it upon myself to remove the wishes.
I read them with all respect and feel entrusted with a great responsibility, keeping them in sacred space. And I long to grant the wishes. Maybe someday, when Im worthy, I will be that crazy old fairy Godmother with a touch of glitter in my hair, who can wave my wand and smile and wink and make wishes come true. I should so love to be her.
In the meantime its up to the fish. The wishes vary and some are quite touching, here are some I recently collected I wish my Dad came to visit; I wish for a puppy or pig; I wish HE would ask me out; I wish I had a boom a rang; I wish my sisters suitcase arrives; I wish for world peace; I wish I could get my life together; I wish everybody had a home; I wish my ex would take me back; I wish happiness for my brother; I wish to get into USC; I wish I had a father and got an i-Pod Touch; I wish I was a little green goblin who lived in a mushroom; I wish for big waves; I wish my husband gets a job; I wish that the grownups that own this restront will have good live; I wish for successful art work; I wish I was a super star; I wish my party goes well and it doesnt rain; I wish Venice Family Clinic survives; I wish to fly; I wish to win the lottery; I wish for a loving affectionate girlfriend; I wish it would be August; I wish for $10,000 by Saturday; I wish to go to the fire ceremony; and finally, I wish to find the Shakespeare book and blue cape.
When I returned home that evening there was a message on the machine from Mirandas school. The Independent Studies teacher (who better?) had found a bag containing a volume of Shakespeare and a blue velvet cape. It would be waiting for us in the office. And so it was.