Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fishy, fishy...

First, I'd like to send my condolences to the Daring Young Family on the sad loss of their beta fish, Jack. We feel your pain!

This reminds me of some of my own traumatic fish experiences. (Fish and I seem to get along about as well as plants and I do. I'm not sure why, as goldfish do not have roots, which is the source of most of my plant-strife. Fresh-cut flowers, no problem; I can keep them alive for pretty much forever, but give me something with roots and that's pretty much signing its death warrant. But that's another story for another day.)

My mother is allergic to just about anything you can think of, which meant our pet options were limited. Dogs, cats, rabbits, anything with fur was out. Snakes and lizards were out, too. She was allergic to those in the same way I am -- they cause severe nervousness and shriekage. Spiders of any sort, like 5, were "right out." So we had goldfish. Mine was named Goldie. (I've always been creative that way.)

So one morning I was getting ready to go to school (second grade) and I heard a plop behind me. About a week earlier, a picture had fallen on top of the aquarium and broken the lid so that it was just open, and Goldie had jumped out and was now sitting on the carpet looking very out-of-place. (Note how I avoided the obvious pun there!) I tried to pick her up to put her back in but, being a fish, she was awfully slimy and unpleasant to the touch, which set off my allergies to sliminess. My mother heard me shriek, came running, and assumed that I'd found the fish just lying on the carpet. I was crying too hard to explain to her what had happened and so she carefully scooped up Goldie in the towel she was holding and went to flush her. I followed along, tears streaming down my face (this was the only pet I'd ever had, people!).

As soon as Goldie hit the water in the bowl she started swimming around and exploring her new home. I was overjoyed. I'm not sure if my mother quite shared the feeling, though, as now that my fish was definitely alive it meant that she needed to get it out of the toilet bowl and back in the tank where it belonged. Goldie apparently really liked it in there, though, because she kept hiding from the net when my mom went to scoop her. After several minutes of this, my tears were back in full force, we were running very late for school, my mom was getting more and more frustrated by this crazy fish's attempts (and success) in eluding her, and Goldie was still in the toilet.

Eventually my mom said that we had to leave and take me and my brother to school. I kept crying as we started to leave, and asked her to make sure not to use the upstairs bathroom, but only the downstairs one because I didn't want her to flush Goldie by accident.

I arrived at school in the depths of despair. My poor fish was going to die an ignominious death, I just knew it! (And contrary to popular opinion, no, I did not actually know the word "ignominious" as a second-grader. I didn't learn it until third or fourth at least.) I couldn't pay attention at math (not surprising; never my favorite subject) and couldn't raise any interest in spelling (surprising, actually; I quite enjoyed spelling as a second-grader), and could barely face the thought of recess. How could I be so cold-hearted as to actually go out and play when my fish was in such a fix?

Fortuitously, however, my teacher came up to me at this point and told me that I had a phone call from my mother. My heart simultaneously soared and sank: Was it good or bad news? Had my fish succumbed to fate or had my mother triumphed?

Of course my mother had triumphed. And I give her even more credit for not going the "identical-replacement" route. She tells the story now that she was in the bathroom on hands and knees with the fish net thinking, "This is ridiculous. But I love my daughter. This is extremely ridiculous. But I love my daughter..." Goldie eventually was restored to her rightful home (which was then covered with saran wrap until we could find a new lid) and lived several more months before dying of natural causes. And I was able to enjoy my recess and brag about how much my mother loves me.

(As a side note, Mom, I'd like to take this moment to apologize for anything I may have said or done since that may have made saving my fish seem less worth it. That is still a defining moment from my childhood. I love you!)


gryffinkat said...

I'm so glad you have your own blog. I love the title, and I adore reading your writing. Super fish story! And a great moral, even. Do you mind if I use that as an example for my composition students sometime? ;)

The Daring One said...

So funny. We just found this. I think I read another blog with a story very similar to this but not nearly as well told. So fun.

Daring Young Dad said...

Thanks for the condolences. We're managing to get by.

That is a great story. The suspense! I wanted to yell out to your mom, "Don't flush him! He's still alive!" Your mom is a Super Nice Lady. Plus your childhood love and loyalty to the fish was adorable.