Enjoying a Nameless Pleasure

My husband and I had a little date last night, just a quick dinner while the kids were with friends. “Let’s get sushi,” he said. Years ago, sushi was a matter of competition in which we saw which one of us could be the most adventurous in our selections. We no longer care about competing, and I now accept that I am, left to my nature, quite a wimp about such things.

He ordered a sashimi boat, which is just an assortment of raw fish served on ice. “No mackerel,” he said, and he left it to the sushi chef to decide which fish would be included beyond that. I carefully chose my favorites: tuna, salmon, eel, and crab. Then I asked him the question I always ask when we get sushi. “Why don’t you ask the name of your favorite fish?” He always orders the sashimi boat, which includes a fish we both like and have not seen elsewhere. But neither of us knows the name of the fish. “What if they don’t include your favorite? You’ll never know what you like,” I say. “What if the restaurant closes or we move? You’ll never know what to ask for,” I continue.

“Then I just won’t have the fish again,” he says, “I’ll find another favorite.” That’s right. He could ask the name of his favorite fish but chooses not to.

It simultaneously drives me crazy and makes me feel profoundly unenlightened. It sets me into a philosophical quandary each time we go. Why do I feel a need to hold onto unnecessary things? Is it necessary or unnecessary to know what we like? The worst that would happen is he doesn’t enjoy his meal. That’s really not a bad thing, so maybe it doesn’t really matter what it is called. Some pleasures can remain nameless and unrepeated. We don’t have to control our experiences as much as we think.

I came closer to agreeing with him this time than I usually do. Maybe by the time we eat here again, I will be able to sit while he eats the secret fish he enjoys, in the moment and unencumbered, without suggesting he ask the name of it. And if they do not offer it to him, I will watch while he has a good dinner without it.

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