How to Skin a Cat(fish) or How to Clean a Catfish

There is something that my husband is a little embarrassed about.

It has to do with me, and actually nothing at all to do with him.

He doesn’t want you to know this about me. He says it just isn’t right.

I call my mother “Mommy”.  And he really doesn’t like it.

It’s not like I call her mommy to other people.  When people ask “How is your mother doing?” I don’t say, “My Mommy is doing swell!”

  When people ask me if my mother lives nearby, or if my mother gets to see her grandkids often, I don’t say, “My mommy lives in Dallas.  My mommy gets to see the kids every few months.”  I’m not that much of a dork.

I do have some semblance of self respect and social demeanor. I politely nod and say, “My mother is doing well. She is currently living in Dallas. Yes, my mother gets to see the children often.” Totally normal.

But for the last 11 1/2 years he’s been telling me it just sounds weird.

“How about Mama?” he’ll urge.


“Try Momma. Can you say that?”

No. That’s the same thing spelled differently.

“What about Mom?”

No can do. Sounds too formal.

And recently, when we  were at the MLK Day Parade, I was gathering the children up to take a picture and I said, “Everybody look at Mommy and say CHEESE!!!!”  “Mommy” as in me. Because that is my choice for what my kiddos should call me.  It’s my name.  I should get to choose.

Consequently, upon that . . . . .,  he flipped his lid.

Apparently all eyes were on me, and not on the floats, bands, or attractions because I had broken some rule in some unwritten book somewhere. “Everybody was looking at you Nicole.  They thought you were strange.” Whatever.

He says most black people just don’t call their mothers “mommy”.  I said, “Yes they do because I’m black and I call my mother mommy.  And  my sister is black too, and guess what. . . . .she calls our mother mommy as well.  Not to mention the fact, that we have 4 children* who are of the same persuasion, and they all call me ‘Mommy’!”

So I think that totals 6 out of 300,000,000 in the United States alone. Not too shabby. 

And I’m not even going to mention Africa. Cause then, he’d really be eating crow.

*Mr. Woo would like to note that thank the Good Lord, our children are girls.  Because if they were boys calling me “Mommy” they would be beaten up. Mrs Woo would like to note that Mr. Woo is crazy in his own right.
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Seriously, Mr. Woo.  There is more than one way acceptable way to address your mother.

Haven’t you ever heard the saying, there’s more than one way to skin a Cat(fish)?

And coincidentally, I have one right here.

Not everybody skins (cleans) their fish the same way. My mother is partial to the nailing it to the tree version, using some plier type whatcha ma doo and pulling the skin off like some type of sadist killer.

I, on the other hand, prefer this version, that neither requires nails, or beating a fish head senseless with a rubber mallet. Well, actually it could.  But no worries. I’m not going to get into that.

How to Clean a Catfish

 1. First start off with a dead catfish, and some cute kids.

2. Tell the kids to hand the fish over, and stop trying to kiss it and make it a pet.  It’s dead already.  People don’t keep pets that are dead.  That’s just gross.

3.  Place the fish on a hard surface, and using a sharp knife with a narrow blade carefully begin cutting the fillet off the side of the fish.  Start at the tail end, feeling for the bone, and gently slide your knife along the bone of the fish. Guide your knife along the length of the body until you reach the breast fin, which is right below the head, and the knife can no longer cut easily.

4. When you can’t cut any further, as referenced by the guts spewing out (as my children would say), cut the fillet completely off.

5. Place the fillet on the table, skin side down. Using your knife, separate the meaty portion from the
skin, by running your knife between the flesh of the fish and the skin.

6. Fry it up and Eat it!  I know it looks a little daunting, but really it’s not.  It’s surprisingly easy.  Even my older two girls were able to do it.

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