One night, Tony went to a bar to have a drink.

That drink lead to another drink. Then to another bar. Then people bought Tony drinks and Tony can never say no to drinks. One bartender refilled his beer without even asking, and Tony, one never a fan of wastefulness, made sure to keep drinking.

Tony decided to go to another bar and another bar, then Tony took a cab home. On the way he realized that he didn’t want to pay more than $5 for a cab ride, so he stopped the driver at $4.40. It happened to be at an intersection of a bar where Tony knew friends and he drank more.

The next thing Tony knew it was noon the next morning and he was in bed, sleeping next to The Herring Fairy. The Herring Fairy surprised Tony with a tale more embarrassing than David Hasselhoff trying to eat a hamburger on the floor.

The Herring Fairy woke up hours earlier at 2:30am to witness a stumbling Tony. She filled in the gaps from his alcohol soaked memories. She saw Tony taking off his rings. He was bent over the table, with his face two inches from his hands as he negotiated the intricacies of removing his four rings. The rings fought with him and dared to stay on until The Herring Fairy lifted Tony’s head to help him. A string of drool finally broke from the table to Tony’s open mouth.

They gave me free drinks, Tony said.

You need to learn how to say no, The Herring Fairy said.

Tony paused and stared at The Herring Fairy and said, I don’t know how.

There was sadness and desperation in Tony’s reply.

I’m hungry, Tony said. I haven’t eaten all day, Tony said. And said. And said. And said.

After The Herring Fairy listed the meager food inventory in the cabinets, Tony chose Herring and crackers.

The Herring Fairy fed Tony a full cracker with herring. Tony was too drunk to chew. The Herring Fairy pushed Tony’s chin up and down to help him eat.

You need to chew, you’re going to choke, The Herring Fairy said.

After repeated use of those pesky, alcohol saturated jaw muscles, the cracker and herring finally went down.

Whatever happened to that writer who died? Tony said.

What writer? The Herring Fairy said.

The one who choked on a cracker, Tony said and laughed as The Herring Fairy decided to bypass the crackers and just get herring into Tony’s stomach.

Down the long hallway Tony walked, gripping onto the walls, like he was Samson between the pillars. Then he did a face plant onto the bed, giving The Herring Fairy enough space to work at taking off Tony’s shoes and pants.

She finally rolled him over and he fell asleep.

At 5am, The Herring Fairy heard a huge thump. Tony sat on the floor next to the bed.

Did you fall? The Herring Fairy asked.

I have to go to the bathroom, Tony replied.

Hoping Tony meant to use the actual facilities and not go on the floor, The Herring Fairy was relieved to see Tony hold onto the walls and chairs as he stumbled to the bathroom.

Tony learned a valuable lesson that night. A lesson that may help others if they chose to accept help. A lesson that he’ll forever be thankful for.

Tony learned that everyone should have a Herring Fairy.

The End.


Lia Garcia as The Herring Fairy
Tony DuShane as himself

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TONY DUSHANE lives in San Francisco. He's the author of Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk, published by Soft Skull Press.

He hosts the radio show (www.drinkswithtony.com) and his column Bandwidth, appears every Thursday in the San Francisco Chronicle. He also has written for The Believer, Mother Jones, The Bold Italic and many other fine publications.

DuShane is a novel writing teacher at San Francisco Writers' College, his next class starts in January. Full details will be announced next week on www.tonydushane.com.

Upcoming readings:

November 17, 2010 - Space Gallery, San Francisco
December 8, 2010 - Bawdy Storytelling at Blue Macaw, San Francisco

He also likes taking long walks in his walk-in closet.

14 responses to “The Herring Fairy”

  1. Simon Smithson says:

    It’s true. We should all have a Herring Fairy.

  2. AnnMarie says:

    Once in a while, everyone needs someone to help them get up from the smelly dog’s bed and into the human bed. This Herring Fairy is just such a ‘someone.’

  3. Irene Zion says:

    Mysterious Tony,

    We all need a herring fairy.
    Not all of us are as lucky as you to have found one.
    Listen to what she says to you.
    She’s a blessing.

  4. Lenore says:

    i thought it was really sweet when the herring fairy helped you chew. i teared up a little. i wish a disgusting fish would come and help me when i’ve done a bunch of dumb shit. nothing cool ever happens to me.

    • Tony DuShane says:

      the sad part is i wish i could remember this, but i only remember the last bar, then waking up in bed with a pounding headache. lia filled in the details and we couldn’t stop laughing about it. thus, the herring fairy was born.

      i have to get her a t-shirt that says, ‘i’m the herring fairy’.

  5. Quenby Moone says:

    You know, if I had to choose between the Herring Fairy and the Hairy Fairy, I would have originally picked the Hairy Fairy. Something about the internal visual called up by a Herring Fairy makes one feel sort of slimy.

    But now I see the error of my ways. The Herring Fairy is clearly superior.

  6. Mmm, Preserved Fishies says:

    Sounds like it’s time to stock up on tasty canned fish snacks at Big Lots! I am envious of your having a Herring Fairy. I trust that her feats of – what’s the female equivalent of “chivalry”? – were suitably rewarded.

  7. The last time I visited San Francisco, it was an awful lot like your herring-assisted recollection here. Except I regrettably had no fairy…rather, a boyfriend who declared snoring evolved in order to make women feel safe in cave-dwelling times, since it would scare predators away. Fewer crumbs in the bed come morning, but an awful lot more memory holes.

  8. Luis Rivas says:

    You shoulda nibbled on the Hearring Fairy, like as you were passing out, hungry and drunk, and she (it?) shoulda allowed it like an ulitmate sacrifice.

    • Tony DuShane says:

      well, you saw me earlier this year a bit too wasted….when i say, ‘hey, let’s go to depeche mode night at so-and-so club’, it’s time to get me in a cab and let me sleep it off.

      next time we hang, let’s just make sure we hook up with the taqueria fairy before the drinkin’.

  9. Ben Loory says:

    i used to have a herring fairy, but it didn’t really exist and never helped me do anything. i like yours much better.

  10. Ducky Wilson says:

    This reminds me of the time I was drunk and ate oysters. Not a happy ending. Perhaps if I’d had a Herring Fairy I’d have fared better?

    • Tony DuShane says:

      yeah, oysters….i wouldn’t want a visit from the oyster fairy…and it’s been so long since i partied this hard, i hope i don’t need the herring fairy again, just a couple of tums.

      oh, plus people were smokin’ the wacky tabaccie around me….i didn’t partake, but it could’ve been a contact high…..the last time i was drunk and smoked pot i had a two day hangover….i’m not a smoke pot kind of guy. wish i was, but it just fucks me up……like i need to be fucked up more than i am when i’m sober.

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