Something's fishy

Diner: "Do you serve crabs in this restaurant?" Waiter: "Oh, we serve anybody, sir." The well-aged joke came to mind when a reader of "A little bird told us" (May 10) went beyond the fowl line. In "happy as a _______" she put "clam" instead of "lark." We took it as a challenge to save fishy words by omitting those that can be caught by you. No need to blubber if you miss a whopper in this unlikely tale. Just have a (1) _______ of a good time.

Picture a young fellow in a (2) _______skin suit with an orange or maybe (3) _______-pink tie. He came home early from working the (4) _______ shift. His e-mail had crashed and there was only one letter by (5) _______ mail.

"We thought you were spineless as a (6) _______," the letter said, "not to mention slippery as an (7) _______. Your prospects were dead as a (8) _______.

"But now we see there's a (9) _______ of hope. In fact, weighed in the (10) _______s of our big giveaway, you're no small (11) _______. You're the (12) _______ of the day! Go to the shopping mall to collect your prize."

"Whew," said William (not his real name) as if he'd found a (13) _______ on top of the heap. How did they know he was what Shakespeare called "a (14) _______-up of unconsidered trifles"?

Soon he was one of the passengers packed like (15) _______s on the subway. At the station they darted for the exits like a (16) _______ of (17) _______s.

Then he (18) _______ a rat. Maybe it was all a (19) _______ story. A marketing tease. Were they just (20) _______ding him, as the Irish say? Was it all a red (21) _______?

But he went to the mall anyway. He could take care of himself. He was no little (22) _______. He didn't have a personal trainer, but he worked out on a (23) _______.

If a decision had to be made, he wouldn't (24) _______ around. Whatever happened, he would be no (25) _______ing critic.

"Good afternoon, sir! Are you William, by any chance?" "Yes I am," William replied, cautiously coming out of his (26) _______.

"I'm happy to inform you that you are the winner of a lifetime supply of gourmet (27) _______ed potatoes. It won't cost you a C-note, a ten-spot, or even a (28) _______. All you have to do is accept all 'cookies' on the Internet."

This was great, because William had been developing (29) _______ tastes. He didn't care if his hard drive was stuffed to the (30) _______s with 'cookies.' And he was no cheap- (31) _______. He was no (32) _______r. No Fagin exploiting street (33) _______s. The world was his (34) _______, and he would share!

The Missing Words:

(1) whale; (2) shark; (3) salmon (4) lobster; (5) snail; (6) jellyfish; (7) eel; (8) mackerel; (9) ray

(10) scale; (11) fry; (12) catch; (13) perch; (14) snapper; (15) sardine; (16) school; (17) minnow; (18) smelt; (19) fish; (20) cod; (21) herring; (22) shrimp; (23) Nautilus;

(24) flounder; (25) carp; (26) shell; (27) scallop; (28) fin; (29) caviar; (30) gill; (31) skate; (32) pike; (33) urchin; (34) oyster.

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