Consider what life could have been if only you adhered to a strict vegan diet.

Realize that you probably would’ve choked on a lentil eventually anyway. Or some sort of plant-based product called something like “ain’t-chovie.”

Tell everyone in your family that you love them, but not why you’re calling—because then they might reassure you that everything will be fine and tell you that you’re overreacting, need to chew better, and all the other bullshit they’ve been pushing on you since Day One.

Drink a glass of water. Fresh, if the fish is from the ocean; with salt, if the fish is from a pond. If you want that bone gone, you can’t let it get too comfortable. Since salmon are anadromous and live in both salt and fresh water, you may want to try both. Of course, they’re also famous for swimming upstream, so maybe sip upside down?

Drink a glass of hot water. When was the last time you saw a fish swimming in a boiling lake?

Drink a glass of milk. (Land cow, not sea cow.) Or some sort of plant-based product that’s called something like “oat milk.” Anything to get vegan God to have mercy on your soul.

Take a deep breath, then try to take another deep breath without allowing yourself to exhale.

Realize that you’ve induced a panic attack.

Google “What to do when small fish bone gets stuck in back of throat” and discover that there have been many lucky survivors—all of whom just so happened to have a bag of marshmallows readily accessible.

Tell everyone in your family to make sure that they always have marshmallows on hand, but not why you’re calling—because they might suggest that you are definitely going to die, which . . . duh.

Go to the store and buy as many bags of marshmallows as you can.

Explain to the nosy cashier that you’re not stocking up for a doomsday situation but, rather, doing everything you can to prevent one.

Ignore the know-it-all cashier’s suggestion that bananas work as well as marshmallows when it comes to dislodging a small fish bone from the back of your throat.

Google “Are marshmallows vegan” and pray that God can forgive one final sin.

Eat a bunch of marshmallows.

Have a pretty good night until your sugar crash coincides with a call from your great-aunt Stacy, who goes on and on about a particularly sticky sardine she ate back in the nineteen-sixties.

Wonder what that has to do with anything.

Google “How to politely end conversation.”

Realize that you no longer have a small fish bone stuck in the back of your throat.

Promise God that you’ll only eat marshmallows from here on out—vegan ones, too, if you can find them, and they don’t cost that much more than the regular ones.

Try not to think about fish with small bones.

Distract yourself by reading a complex text like “Trout Fishing in America,” but not that one.

Begin writing a novella that’s about eating marshmallows, but also about so much more than that, even if you’re not really sure what, because ultimately the reader will decide.

Keep the creative juices flowing with an omega-3-rich anchovy smoothie.

Just give up and go to bed.

Realize that the small fish bone is still sort of there, but somehow less annoying. Maybe it’s no longer a threat to your health, or you’ve just tired yourself out worrying about it. Either way, you know that it’s all about to fade to black. Just like it did for Tony Soprano.

Sleep with the fish’s (bone). ♦



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