BENGALURU: When we are talking about love and relationships, it is quite interesting how there are so many different metaphors that are about fishing. If someone is just swiping around on an app, they would say they are just fishing around. If you hated online spaces but were forced online, you would feel like fish out of water. ‘An odd fish,’ is someone we thought would be nice but turns out to not be our type.
We say, ‘Plenty of other fish in the sea,’ when someone breaks up and we want to cheer them up by showing them they have options. We talk about falling hook, line and sinker when someone truly and hopelessly crushes on the object of their affection. There is also ‘Reel it in,’ when someone shows interest and how you need to quickly act on it to bag it. ‘Getting hooked’ is of course a long standing metaphor for becoming keenly interested in something, or in this case, someone.
All those aside, when the nosey neighbour sees others being suspiciously intimate or looking like they are out and about, they are likely to say, ‘Something fishy is going on!’, as they spread their gossip.
The fishing metaphor is so deep that even amongst people with very little experience hunting or fishing, it is common to use these phrases. I mean, ‘Falling hook, line and sinker,”’ punches it in, in a way that ‘Sinking full in filter coffee,’ or anything of that ilk can convey. This is not about whether people are meant to be hunters, gatherers or foragers, or any debate of that sort, but to highlight how much finding someone to love or a person with whom to build a relationship is likened so much to a hunt or a fishing expedition. It is like someone settling at the edge of a lake, bait on a line, casting it again and again, hoping and waiting for a nibble and some nice fish to get hooked.
Of course, the fish are not lying around waiting to be hooked. They are not vying to see whose bait looks best, who reels them in harder or anything of that sort. They are just swimming around minding their own business, eating whatever they fancy, and with the exception of angler fish and maybe a few others, hardly going around looking to hook unsuspecting small fry for their own meal.
We people can get very confused about it. Most times we might turn our nose up at even the suggestion we are looking around, but often enough, we are certainly looking for it. We have our wares all lined up for the best catch, or we are even the ones who want to get hooked. We look around to see who is fishing, trying to get their attention, and maybe even jump straight in. We might even get our lines all tangled up.
Looking for love, being in a relationship, getting out of it, getting back in the game – it can all seem quite fishy, even when all we want is to get out of that fishiness and come out smelling like roses.
(The writer’s views are his own)