As Easy as Shooting Fish in a Barrel

shooting fish in a barrel

This idiom has always confused me. I’m no expert with a gun—I’ve only shot one once at my then-boyfriend’s house down in Texas—but it doesn’t seem like shooting fish in a barrel would be the easiest thing.

First of all, we usually catch fish, not shoot them. It seems to me that is for a reason. Maybe it’s because fish move around so much and so constantly. Maybe it’s because water can mess with your depth perception, which is important when trying to be an accurate shooter. Maybe it’s something else entirely, I’m not sure!

Also, if you’re shooting fish in a barrel, that barrel is going to have holes in it. That will allow the water to drain from those holes, which will mess with your water-to-fish ratio. I suppose that would make it easier though, because as the water drains the fish have less space to swim away to.

After a while you’d be shooting fish in an empty barrel, which would be way easier. And after even more time, you’d essentially be shooting dead fish that were lying at the bottom of that empty barrel.

So I guess this idiom makes some sense. Either way you’re going to end up with a bunch of dead fish—goal achieved!

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Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Shannon looked at the heaping piles of meat in front of her on the table. She’d signed up for this cooking class 4 months ago with her best friend Amy, but, like always, Amy bailed at the last minute and Shannon was stuck going alone.

The teacher was intense to say the least. She was a little French woman with a heavy accent and curly white hair. She was very passionate about cooking—and it definitely showed! She certainly wasn’t afraid to yell at her students when they made a mistake. She carried a wooden spoon that she would bang on the table to get their attention when they messed up. Shannon was terrified of the woman, in all honesty.

They were making a bunch of dishes using a pig, the meat from which was piled high on the table in stacks. All the students had placed the eyes in separate bowls. Shannon got a weird feeling every time she looked at them, but she couldn’t stop herself from staring. She felt like she was obsessing about the eyes a little too much but the idea of using them was just so foreign to her.

Shannon could hear the teacher talking but she was only half listening. Those eyes were starting to haunt her. The teacher was instructing the class on what to do next but Shannon didn’t care anymore.

Smack! The wooden spoon banged on the table in front of Shannon.

“Keep your eyes peeled!” the teacher yelled before turning around and walking back to the front of the room.

Shannon picked up her pig eyes and, with her own eyes shut, began peeling them.

“Non! Qu’est-ce que tu fais?! Non, non, non,” the teacher screamed in Shannon’s direction.

Shannon turned around to see who was in trouble before realizing she was sitting in the last row and the teacher was staring directly at her.

“What?” Shannon asked. She didn’t speak French.

“What are you doing? Don’t peel the eyes, keep your eyes peeled for bad meat,” the teacher said.

“Oh, sorry,” Shannon said, putting the eyes down.

Shortly afterwards, Shannon packed up her bag and slipped out of the classroom, never to return.

Raining Cats and Dogs

Raining Cats and Dogs

You’re sitting on your couch in your house when you hear a big commotion outside. You run to the door, pull it open and head into the light. Squinting in the cloudy brightness, you make out the shape of a group of people. They’re standing around something that looks like it might be an animal. You’re fairly small so you work your way up to the front of the crowd. It’s a dog. There’s only a murmur coming from the back of the crowd now; the rest have fallen silent, shocked and pale.

You wonder what happened. You wonder where this dog came from. You wonder why it’s not wearing a collar and where it’s owner might be. Everything is so mysterious, but the people are so intrigued. It’s actually kind of nice, seeing that people still care about something.

You can’t stand the mystery for too long, though. You turn to the man standing next to you and ask what happened.

“It fell,” he says, “fell right from the sky.”

As you’re about to ask for more of an explanation from the man you believe is clearly crazy, you hear another noise. It sounds like a screech, high-pitched and full of fear.

That’s when you see it. Something falling from the sky, tumbling towards the ground, terrified.

“It’s a bird! It’s a plane!” you hear people shout.

“Wait,” one woman says, “it’s a cat!”

That’s insane, you think. It’s not possible.

But, sure enough, it starts raining cats and dogs.

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

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It’s not like I’ve never been in a relationship—it’s just that I’ve never fallen for anyone quite so quickly. I’ve dated around plenty for someone my age, but I’ve always managed to get into bad relationships where there’s really no true love exchanged. I’ve been with guys who tell me I’m not funny and I should stop trying to be, but this new boy, he thinks I’m hilarious—and he has no problem telling me so. You’re my hero, he’ll text me when I say something particularly laugh-worthy. I’ve been with boys who force me to keep our relationship a secret, as if they’re ashamed to be with me. I can’t wait for you to meet my parents, they’re going to love you, he told me once. One of these things is not like the others.

Use her and lose her, hump her and dump her, get head then kick her out of bed. I’ve been with boys who’ve used these expressions as their guidelines for how to treat women. I can’t say I’m proud of those experiences, but this new boy isn’t like that. He doesn’t try to sext me or get naked pictures of me. He sends me drunken messages saying, I would love to take you on a date when you get back in town. He calls me bae and tells me how he can’t wait to date me. One of these things is not like the others.

He used to be in a fraternity, but he isn’t like the typical frat guy. He’s still a virgin and he’s never gotten head. I want my first time to be with you, he whispers to me when we’re out one night. I tell him I think it’s sweet that he’s waited for the right person when it would’ve been so easy to lose it to any girl at a frat party. He tells me he must’ve been waiting for me. One of these things is not like the others.

Things go great for a while, but all good things must come to an end. He suddenly cuts off all contact with me, blocks my number, and refuses to speak to me. Without any discernable reason, he just stops loving me. He doesn’t even have the guts to break up with me in person—or even through text message! I’ve never been broken up with in this way before, but I quickly learn it’s the most painful way to end a relationship. No answers, no closure. I can hardly believe I was so wrong about a person who I thought was so good and sweet and kind. I guess one of these things is not like the others.

Rise and Shine

Rise and Shine

Jack’s father burst into the room. It was 6:45 AM and Jack was supposed to be getting up so he could begin his job hunt bright and early.

The father’s deep voice belted out, “Rise and shine, sleepy head!” He was trying to remain positive, hoping the good energy would rub off on his 25-year-old unemployed son who was living at home. Jack was staying in his childhood bedroom, Little League trophies lining the walls, old toys in the closet, a cool racecar sign on the door that said, “Jack’s Room.”

Jack rolled over with a grunt, bringing his comforter with him as he turned away from his father’s booming voice.

“I don’t think so, buddy,” the father said quietly, fed up with being ignored by his lazy son. He pulled back the curtains and raised the blinds to reveal a rising sun, just visible over the trees in their backyard.

“Jack, it’s time to wake up. You’re going to get out of bed, and you’re going to contribute something to the world today. End of story,” the father said sternly.

Jack grunted.

The father lost his cool. How could this child be so unmotivated and lazy?! He was not going to stand for it. His son was not going to become one of those people that did nothing with their lives. Not on his watch. He ran over to the bed and ripped the comforter from Jack’s sleepy grasp.

“RISE AND FREAKING SHINE, JACK!” he screamed at his son. “The sun can do it, so why can’t you?!”

Not Playing With A Full Deck

Abigail was a dreamer. She was the kind of kid every parent hopes to have—smart, sweet, and creative enough to entertain herself for hours on end. She could play with anything, giving voices to whatever inanimate objects were strewn about the house. She never really complained, always ate her vegetables, and was polite to everyone she met.

Her parents were away on business a lot and they would frequently leave Abigail with her Auntie. Auntie was single, had no children, and absolutely loved Abigail. They had a special relationship that neither of them fully understood, but each was the other’s best friend and closest confidant. One time, Auntie had to take a long phone call, so she gave Abigail a deck of cards to play with. Being the creative little girl she was, Abigail entertained herself for the rest of the night making up different games. Auntie ended up giving her the deck of cards.

The other kids at school weren’t quite as accepting of Abigail’s individuality and, as kids often do, they teased her. They seemed more fascinated than hateful, usually testing the limits of her creative mind. On this particular day, Abigail brought her new deck of cards to school. It was time for recess and Abigail was all about the card games, playing by herself and daydreaming all the while.

The other kids decided to play a game of their own in which they would sneakily take a card from the deck every few minutes. They wanted to know how long it would take before Abigail would notice that she wasn’t playing with a full deck.

But Abigail was so absorbed in her own thoughts that she didn’t have a clue. Or if she did, she certainly didn’t let it affect her.