Fried fish gets the best of me - Justin Boron

I walked the plank and never felt closer to a heart attack.

It had been a few years since I had last ventured into the turbulent waters of bubbling grease and engaged the cholesterol nightmares of the fried-fish pirates. I thought I had warded off my affinity for the devil-frozen cod.

But recently driving past one of the local fish houses, I was reeled in by that familiar smell of freshly fried batter. So I decided to brave another voyage.

This one would be aboard the slippery but tempting craft of Capt. Silver.

From the get-go I knew it was going to be a rough trip through tumultuous vats of grease, vinegar, and tartar and cocktail sauce. Apparently, Long John runs a pretty tight ship and only those with a true understanding of cardiovascular deterioration need apply.

From the outside, I saw people plowing through fish sandwiches, chicken planks, and hush-puppies faster than I'd ever seen anybody eat.

I walked in the door and slipped on the greasy floor. In the background, I heard some cackle, "Why don't you go back to Joe's Crab Shack you landlubber. Or try Captain D's, I hear they're looking for someone to scrub the deck."

Immediately, I felt out of place. Who was I to try and tread through these expert waters? I had nowhere near the experience I needed in eating fast-food fish and chips.

But I mustered some determination and approached the menu board. This was a baffling experience. I stood in front of the cashier, jaw-dropped trying to figure out if I wanted the fish-plank basket or the treasure chest sampler. They both looked so similar. I finally came to the conclusion that the only difference was that the combo basket had a drink.

Not ready to venture that deep so soon, I settled on the combo basket. But even then, these veteran pirates insisted on rattling me. The cashier mumbled some garbled string of vowels that sounded like a question. I assume she was speaking some pirate vernacular that I probably would never understand. But I asked, "What's that?"

Another cashier translated for me. "It means do you want to add shrimp?"

That is when the boat rammed into the coral.

I didn't know what to do? Would they shun me if I didn't add shrimp? I thought pirates hated shrimp. These ones were pushing it on me.

Too discombobulated to respond, I stepped back ready to jump overboard.

Luckily, some sympathetic person overseeing the station that makes those flaky little pieces of batter placed in the basket came forward and said just give her your money.

Somehow I overcame my confusion and handed the cashier some crumpled up bills. My fish came fast. It was so fresh that a speckle of grease actually popped up off the fish and burnt my face.

I doused it with vinegar and ate it. That was the easy part. Now I had to get out.

Standing up, I noticed that a dark grease spot had formed on my pants just from sitting down at one of the tables.

I also realized that I had probably clogged several arteries with this meal and would never have the audacity to board Long John's vessel again.

For memories sake, I stole one of those paper pirate hats off a vacant hi-chair.

Justin Boron is the government reporter for the News-Daily. His column appears Monday. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 or jboron@news-daily.com .