A fine kettle of fish (tales)

Down here on the Redneck Riviera, we like to have a good ol’ fish fry every winter.
The local fried grouper is pretty good though it’s just not up to a mess of northern walleye.
With that in mind, Norm and I manage to bring along a passel of fillets each winter and get to lord it over the poor souls who don’t live on walleye waters.
With Norm on skillet detail and me relegated to battering, we all sat down to a massive platter full of golden brown ambrosia and exchanged tall tales over the bounty.
“I’m sorry many of the fillets are so big but I had a terrible time catching enough smaller ones,” claimed Norm in all humility (nothing quite like the truth to make a tale totally unbelievable).
Dennis the Menace immediately jumped in with really unbelievable tales of salmon fishing on the Great Lakes. Unbelievable—until you remember that Dennis is the one who, a couple of years back, managed to shatter most of his wife’s crystal, crack the kitchen drywall, and blow the microwave into a thousand pieces while superheating his golf balls to see if he could get a few extra yards out of his golf drive.
At least that’s what he told the SWAT members when they responded to the 9-1-1 call about “gunshots fired” (as far as I know, he still might be on the anti-terrorist “no fly” list).
But I digress.
Dennis and his buddies were on a big fishing trip last spring and the salmon run was amazing. But what to do with all of it? Dennis likes smoked salmon, so he set up a giant smoker.
After marinating the salmon in his own special brine recipe, he was ready to load the smoker. The process so far had taken several hours and there were a few mishaps getting everything just right.
The fire wouldn’t start. The special smoke chips were missing. The racks fell out of the smoker. The cat got into the marinating salmon, etc. It was rumoured alcohol may have been involved in the undertaking.
Finally, everything was ready to go as darkness settled over the scene. The mosquitoes were vicious but the smoke was holding them at bay.
“Just one last touch,” thought Dennis as he grabbed the yellow can of no-stick cooking spray and coated the grates in the smoker before putting in the marinated salmon.
After it was loaded, Dennis gave the whole load another thorough spaying from the yellow can and everybody settled back into the drifting smoke, their eyes watering.
“It’ll be ready about midnight,” predicted Dennis as he hurried into the house for another cooler of wobbly pop.
A roaring bonfire and tall tales, along with sufficient lubrication, had the wait slip by quickly. At the appointed hour, the first rack was pulled out of the smoker.
“Here try this. My own special recipe,” bragged Dennis as he offered the tray around.
“Well, it sure is different,” commented Bill as he washed down the first bite with a hearty chug of beer.
“I’ll say. Look, it’s nearly transparent. What did you put on it?” wondered Ed, holding up a piece in front of the light before chowing down on it.
“Nothing special. Same recipe as always,” replied Dennis, popping a chunk in his mouth.
“I just sprayed a little Pam from that can there on the racks to keep it from sticking.”
“This yellow can that says ‘Easy Off Oven Cleaner!’” gasped Joe around his mouthful and holding up the offending can.
All three started spitting and washing out their gullets.
But Dennis just took another piece and said, “You know, it does have that little ‘je ne sais quoi.’”

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