That's what my husband says we're doing in trying to sell our house. Not only is the tide out, but there are too many of us out here knee-deep in muck, tangling our lines.
We took a walk this morning and pondered this metaphor.
The archetypal home exchange story is the one the Grimms told of the fisherman and his wife, who went from barrel to palace and back again because of her greed and his inability (and that of the prince disguised as a fish) to say no. The woman whose effrontery is so boundless, that the fish prince demotes her below her humble beginnings as a comeuppance, is half role model and half caution. I wouldn't say we're palace residents in search of a barrel, but there's an element of the fisherwoman in every real estate yarn. (See "The Mansion: A Subprime Parable," by Michael Lewis, for a good one.)
We weren't talking about that tale on our walk, but another, a fable called "The Cat and His Visions" by Arnold Lobel, in which a cat imagines a fleshy, juicy fish in a lake of lemon-butter sauce while he sits with his fishing pole. His wait drags on. Dispirited, he pictures a smaller fish. Still he catches nothing, and so his imagination contracts again and he sees a little smelt with a dollop of butter and a spray of lemon. He downgrades his desires to something utterly inadequate—let's say a minnow (we can't seem to lay our hands on the book or I'd tell the story right)—and then to an empty china plate. Suddenly, from the pit of despair, he hooks a whopper, more sumptuous than his dreams. He eats the fish with a whole ocean of lemon-butter sauce.
"Any bites yet?" people keep asking us.
It's an odd metaphor, since we don't want to eat anyone, we just want someone to enjoy the pleasure of dining in this house while we move on and enjoy dining somewhere else more suited to our present needs.
Some people recently decided not to make us an offer because, according to their realtor, they feared 'biting off more than they could chew.' They needed the smelt.
Anyway, on our walk, my husband, my son, and I decided that "The Cat and His Visions" should be our guiding vision. This will turn out better than our worst and best imaginings. Some fisher out there will be likewise delighted at the flounder that lands on their plate when they find us.
This illustration by Kay Nielsen from Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1925.