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Not Finding Nemo

Now I know how Joe Btfsplk felt.

The cartoon character from the Li'l Abner strip was always housed by a storm cloud overhead. My storm cloud caught up with me the minute I turned onto I-526 heading into Charleston on Friday the 13th and left the moment I exited off the interstate onto I-26 two days later.

Charleston was a cold, wet city by the harbor Valentine's weekend. I can handle cold, and I can handle wet. I have trouble with a lot of each mixed with wind.

But that didn't stop Miriam and me from trekking through the market and surrounding shops and restaurants. (By the way, Bubba Gump's -- though touristy and a chain -- was good. The Charleston Crab House wasn't bad either.)

Our trip to Charleston was a surprise for my wife, who had no idea where we were going until we were a few miles outside of Columbia on I-26 and she saw the first Charleston signs. And since I'm terrible at keeping secrets from her, I was immediately busted.

We stayed at Wild Dunes and made the 25 minute drive to Charleston, which meant passing over the worst bridge in America twice daily.

Now, in the past, I haven't had a problem driving over bridges -- even if I do hate heights. For some reason, I had the urge to slide into the floorboard while driving as we crossed the Cooper River.

OK, I know the reason. Miriam hates bridges. I mean, she starts getting nervous as soon as the bridge is in sight and is almost ready to get in the floorboard as we cross.

Her nervous ramblings made me nervous, two-hands-on-the-wheel and sitting-straight-up nervous.

But we made it and then braved the rain and cold to get to the aquarium next to Fort Sumter.

I went there as a man with a wife on a mission: We had to find Nemo. She'd promised Hannah and Avery -- her best friend's daughters -- that Aunt Mimi and Uncle Jay would return with photos of their favorite fish.

Our excitement peaked when we saw a kid in a stroller with a Nemo toy. I should have tackled him and taken the toy for there was no Nemo in Chucktown.

We checked and double-checked every tank in the aquarium, just hoping to get a glimpse of the fish Disney made famous. The clownfish had been moved out as a part of a special exhibit in early January. Even the gift shop was Nemo-less.

Now, how can an aquarium of all places, not have a remnant of the biggest animated movie of all time? I'm sure that several kids -- not to mention a 30-year-old, gray-headed guy -- have been disappointed in not finding Nemo.

It's too bad Nemo wasn't a shrimp or a snow crab. We found -- and ate -- plenty of them. Then again, clownfish was probably a good choice. Boiling Nemo probably wouldn't have done as well at the box office.



Web posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004


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