Pet Peeves

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Grey Goby

by Mark D. Crantz
by Mark D. Crantz

I was standing in a pool of brackish water in my garage when I read the Indy’s “Estuary Re-envisioned for Degraded Aliso Creek.” I then balled up the paper to plug the encroaching water. Area plumbers came. Area plumbers assessed. Area plumbers went. All agreed that I had inadvertently changed my garage into a wetland. I had to go to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about getting my garage back.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came to my garage. “Here it is,” I explained. The Fish and Wildlife guy said something back. It came out like “#*%@.” I couldn’t understand him through his snorkel. So, I tried in vain to catch his attention through hand gestures, but his goggles were all fogged up. Before I knew it he dove into my garage to have a look around.

I tracked his journey by watching his snorkel move hither and thither. He was very thorough and covered every inch of the garage. Finally, he emerged, took off the goggles and snorkel and proclaimed, “Congratulations Mr. Crantz. You own an estuary. You’ll be the first one on Laguna’s Wetland Heritage List.” “What?” I choked, “I don’t want a wetland. I want my garage back. I need a place to park my car.” He assumed a Dudley Do-Right pose and said, “About the car…I’m afraid I have to give you a citation for parking your car in a protected wetland area. Why did you do that, Mr. Crantz?” I caught myself thinking about going all in and adding assault and battery to the parking ticket, but instead took a breath and calmly answered, “Actually, it was the wetlands that parked themselves around my car.” He smiled the full extent of the law and said, “Sounds like you were just keeping up with traffic, huh?”

The wildlife guy advised me to just pay the ticket. There was no way to win in court due to the presence of the grey goby in my wetland/garage. “What’s a grey goby?” I asked. Wildlife guy aimed his double barrel verdict right between my eyes. “A grey goby is a small two inch fish that hasn’t been seen in wetlands for the last hundred years in California. It was considered by many to be extinct and is on the endangered species list. Your wetland/garage is the first sighting. Think of yourself as the guardian here to bring back the grey goby.”

Sushi-ed. It was a raw deal. Was it bad karma? I googled grey goby. There was a resemblance to me. Protruding eyes set wide apart, a crooked mouth and fin-like hair that stuck straight out. Both of us were on the short side. Geez, it was a family reunion I didn’t need or want. But then I read about goby reproduction. Males burrow themselves into the sand and plug the entrance. Females go crazy trying to get into the male’s burrow. Only one in 23 females get in to eventually lay eggs. Nope, we weren’t related. No woman has ever tried knocking down my burrow door. Goby and I were not related. I could prove my sexual unattractiveness in court, win the verdict and have the Coastal Commission directed to drain the wetland/garage of all goby-gators nipping at my property rights.


Crantz tells the Indy that the grey goby is so small that a baited worm swallowed it. The worm was caught and released.


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